Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Sentinel Hummingbird Turf Battles

Around my home, I have 10 hummingbird feeders, on 8 hangers - essentially 8 different locations. Six of the eight locations are "out of the line of sight" of each other, so that a hummingbird male who tries to guard / covet / protect / defend one location cannot effectively cover more than one of the six.  I've come to observe today, that EACH of the six separated & isolated locations has a male hummingbird who has claimed it.  Each of these six hummingbirds chase off all other males who approach, and if the female is a different species, they get chased off as well.  The guarding males allow females of the same species to drink from their unlimited nectar supply, and vociferously swoop and strafe me when I go to refill the feeders.

So after work today, I decided to photograph each of these six possessive males, and document them here, so that you can see them too.  When I go into my kitchen to make tea throughout the day, I can see two of the Anna's males - one outside the kitchen sink window and one outside the patio doors.  When I walk through the living room I can see another Anna's perched beside the hanging fuschia and jasmine. As I cross the dining room, there's another Anna's  perched in the plum tree, standing vigil over the feeder hidden under the pepper trees.  Then, when I go into Dr Desert Flower's office, I can spy the Rufous hiding in the oleander beneath the two feeders.  And each time I return to my office, outside my window is a very feisty Rufous (this month) who sits in the lemon tree outside my window, menacing any creature who comes near his feeders, including a lizard that was at least 5 times the bird's body mass who had climbed up the wall behind the jasmine I planted here, and who probably would have enjoyed dining on the Rufous if he'd come within striking range.

For those with slow internet connections, these are each 4 to 6 megabyte jpegs, so you might want to view them when you're on free Wifi and not roaming on a mobile device.

Office Window Rufous quaffing refreshing nectar after chasing off a rival
Office Window Rufous perched in the shade of the lemon tree
Hungry patrolling lizard, beside the lemon tree

The Rufous in the oleander outside of DDF's window, looking up at me; taken at a 58.5X zoom "thru window" setting
The living room Anna's, guarding both feeders visible from the couch.
Kitchen door Anna's, perched in the dwarf palm, 3 feet from his guarded feeder
Kitchen sink window Anna's, looking down at his feeder & the human with a camera pointed up at him. (58.5X zoom)
The immature juvenile in the plum tree outside the dining room window; he hasn't gotten his full plumage yet
It's been rather 'gloomy' here, weather wise, with the "June Gloom" marine layer hanging around most every morning, and not burning off until at least 2 or 3pm, even though we are more than 3 miles (as the heron flies) from the shore.  Each of these males, in full sunlight, are much more brilliant than they are in the shade, but getting them "to pose" in the sun is next-to-impossible, as they appear to enjoy guarding their posts in the shade more often than in the sun.

Below are several other hummingbird related shots taken over the last few weeks, that I thought turned out pretty well.  I hope you enjoy them too.

2 juvenile males cautiously sharing the feeder outside my office, while the Rufous is off chasing away another challenger.

Thirsty Rufous outside of DDF's office window
A mature male Anna's, June 7th outside the dining room in the plum tree, before moving onto bigger nectar feeders
He was rather a ham, and liked to pose, as long as I stayed inside the house (yes, exact same bird as previously pictured)

Under the dwarf palm outside the kitchen door, last week. Maybe I should call him Tyrion?

The plums last week
After picking 1/5th of them

Mature Anna's male in the front yard palm tree, ready to fight the Rufous who hangs out there.
Iridescent Anna's in the lemon tree, before the pugnacious Rufous chased him away, last month
Same Rufous last month; this shot taken as I crouched in the door of my office's closet to get a different angle.
Time for me to go pick the last of the plums, and then walk down the street to get the mail.  Cheers.

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