The Last Word – A Hummingbird Pair

This evening not long before sunset, the edge of our deck lay in the shadow of the oaks while the last light of the sun lit the tops of pines at the edge of the woods. A Bluebird sang somewhere in the distance, and Chimney Swifts twittered overhead.

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds had been chasing each other around all day, and one male seemed particularly insistent on keeping others away from the feeder. When he wasn’t sipping nectar or chasing off other Hummingbirds or Tufted Titmice – who came to drink water from the moat in the middle of the feeder – he perched over the feeder on the crook of the pole that held it, or nearby, on a low branch of one of the oaks.

As I watched, a female Hummingbird zoomed up to the feeder. The male zoomed in from the oak to chase her away. She veered off – but immediately turned back and hovered defiantly over the feeder, and the two faced off over it – she on the left, he on the right. She looked as if she were saying, “Who do you think you are?!”

With the male still hovering uncertainly, she settled down to sip at one of the openings. Out-bluffed, he lowered himself to sit on the opposite rim of the feeder and watched, turning his head this way and that, flashing his throat, and never taking a sip while she was there. She fed peacefully, and apparently in no hurry, for almost a minute. When she finally seemed satisfied and hummed softly away, he immediately flew to the spot she had left and took several sips of nectar there, as if reclaiming his territory – and maybe trying to reclaim some of his lost dignity. He stayed in that spot for at least a minute longer before flying off again to take up his perch in the oak.

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