Heated Birdbaths

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?

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Aug 07, 2018
Not play
by: Anonymous

If it’s ruby throats it isn’t play. They are territorial. Although the male does a cool swooping dance for the female during mating time and nest mates tend to tolerate each other, this species is solitary even on their long journeys back and forth for migration.

Jul 26, 2018
Hummers at it again
by: Regina Middleburg, FL

I find enjoyment on my days off sitting on my back porch and watching these fun little birds. I only have three feeders at present and attract probably 6-8 hummers so far. There might be more if the current ones wouldn’t chase them away.

Whether they were playing or being aggressive I had one last week flyby and very quickly grazed my lip and poked a small hole in it. All is good though... I just love em ❤️

Sep 01, 2016
Frequent Chasing
by: Arnie

Usually in the later part of August for the past several years I have had 2 females visit my feeder. This year if one shows up then soon a 2nd one shows up and one chases the other one. They keep circling and returning all day. I frequently change the sugar mixture so it is fresh. They are a joy to watch.

Jul 29, 2014
Hummngbird Play
by: Anonymous

It is delightful when the babies start to visit our feeders. They are so tiny and sweet.

Now they are a bit older and playing all the time. These youngster are definitely playing. They chase clearly play hid and seek. I've watched them hide in a nook in the bushes while another scans up and down the tree looking. Once spotted they chase and chatter then come back and do it all over again. There's one group of 3 little ones that stay together and play non-stop. They make a lot of noise too. The adults are quiet and stick to one feeder.

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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