Kinda Like a Blog

Monday, September 12, 2011

We are still in the midst of a very long, very dry, very hot summer here in Houston. However, two bright spots are that the hummingbirds seem to love the hot weather are coming back in droves and so are the butterflies. I must say that, considering how dry it is here, our Backyard Wildlife Habitat is still filled with flowers, water in the birdbaths, food & shelter and helps draws these lovely creatures to our home. I always love the hummingbird wars that take place every fall. We have hummers in the early spring, but they don't seem to arrive in the same numbers as the fall, and don't have as many wars. If you are not familiar with hummingbird habits, these tiny birds are extremely territorial. They stake out a feeder or favorite flowering plant and try to keep all the other hummers from entering each territory. One comes in for a feeding and two, three, four, or more swoop down to chase the "interloper" away. Now, you must understand that these hummers share two feeders in our backyard and numerous plants, so none are really "interlopers" but they all fight over the feeders. Occasionally, we are lucky to see them do the hummingbird war dance where two will circle each other, like little helicopters, their bodies flying vertically, feet facing each other. They start high and circle down to the ground. When the first one touches the ground with its tail, they both fly off in different directions. They never seem to hurt each other and we really enjoy watching them. Right now, we have at least six fighting over the backyard. I think we have male and female Ruby-Throated....but they move so fast, it is hard to tell. Plus the females of both the Ruby-Throated and Black-chinned varieties look very similar unless you can see their tail feathers (which I cannot) and the males of both varieties can look similar, depending on how the light is hitting them. We sometimes get Rufous hummers (the males are brown or copper-colored) but I haven't seen any this fall. I've tried to get some photos for you. They are such fast movers, that I had to use Photoshop to sharpen the images. And I only got the beginning of one war (look closely to see the second hummer above and swooping down on the feeding hummer in the second photo. One little female posed for me on a butterfly bush but I couldn't get the camera to focus on her....she tried as hard as I did to capture her portrait. It seems that the more hummers we have, the more territorial and the less afraid of us they become.