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Is it Hummingbird Play or Aggression?

I have witnessed an odd behavior, actually almost comical rather than odd, amongst the 18 or so humming birds that frequent my garden feeders.

We have three feeders with six holes each and, initially, the birds were very territorial.

But now we have even seen birds sitting side-by-side and sharing one of the holes.

But the most surprising is when one of the hummingbirds comes up from under a feeding bird, grabs his tail in his slender beak, and pulls him off to free a slot.

This has an alternative action when a bird tries to free a slot by coming from above and touches the feeding bird with his beak.

This typically results in the feeding bird reaching up to grab the intruder by the tail to pull him away.

Any thoughts? Comments?

Comments for Is it Hummingbird Play or Aggression?

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Sep 02, 2013
Hummers at Play
by: Anonymous

We have 3 female rufous who have been around since they were immatures. They chase each other away from the feeders -- definitely play - chasing each other and zipping up into the sky circling each other and chirping.

Eventually they take turns or go together to one of the feeders. Such a joy. They were here this morning playing and now seem to be gone but were around for more than a month -- hope they return next year!

Sep 21, 2011
Playful Hummers
by: Retired Fire Chief

It is late September here in central Illinois and the males have gone south. But our females are having a ball. Yes I think they are playing.

They eat together then will chase each other and then they fly up and it looks as if they are dancing around each other.

My wife and I will miss these delightful creatures of God until next year. Next year we are putting out two more feeders. More feeders more hummers.

Sep 03, 2011
by: Anonymous

This is very interesting. I wish I knew what kind of hummingbirds you have. I have ruby throated hummingbirds. It is only during mating and when the nest mates are together that I see the kind of behavior you are mentioning.
I would think if it is early in the season they interact, it would be mating related and if it is later, like August it is nest mates. I have a male and female that hang out together and even gang up on other hummers.

Aug 03, 2011
Playing I think!
by: Marie

Interesting that you mention "play"
I have about 5 or more with several feeders in my yard and I observe them on a daily basis. I feel that they are playing. They chirp to each other and they chase each other, sometimes playing hid and seek. They also follow each other.
It sure is interesting.


Aug 31, 2008
Breakfast Anyone?
by: Donna

It's nice to find others who take as much delight in these wonderful little creatures as my husband and I do. We join them on our deck every morning for coffee and breakfast. They've come to know there's no reason to fear us or our two cocker spaniels. The ones we've seen are all brown. Not knowing a lot about them (but learning) I thought they must all be females. Any help on this. They seem to love our big oak trees. Next year the flower garden and planter boxes will be planted with them very much in mind.

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