This mystery comes to me every time I watch the hummingbirds at our feeders. You may think of hummingbirds as cute, docile, innocent little fairy-birds, but I’m here to set the record straight. Hummingbirds are mean, grouchy, stingy, food-hoarders. Of course they're still cute, and we like to watch them. However, if they were the size of eagles, they'd be terrifying sky-demons.
Trish fills our feeders whenever they get low. That means the hummingbirds will not run out of food. Ever. There’s plenty for all, including the hummingbird brothers, sisters, cousins, friends, acquaintances, and total strangers. No need to be stingy. There’s no purpose in sitting near the feeder and dive-bombing every other hummingbird that tries to take a sip. There simply is no point in hoarding an unlimited resource.
Well, as it turns out, this unlimited resource thing is the key to hummingbirds’ contentious behavior. Hummingbirds simply cannot fathom that such a thing as an unlimited resource could possibly exist. They did not evolve feeding on unlimited food. If they had, the world would be filled to overflowing with hummingbirds, and nobody wants that.
Hummingbirds feed on nectar, and flowers tend to bloom and produce nectar for a short period of time. The next flower, or group of flowers, may be some distance away. So, throughout all of hummingbird history, about 22 million years, these little bullies have been viciously guarding their food, to make sure they have enough to survive.
Ruby-throated hummingbirdss at feeder - Stan C. Smith
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