Hummingbirds are Assholes

I have a never ending supply of hummingbird nectar (it’s called sugar), yet this one little hummingbird with a red tuft around his neck keeps chasing all the others away. He sits up in the pine tree, and if anyone else comes in, he attacks them and then just sits up on the pole supporting the feeder. He doesn’t eat. He just sits there telling everyone this is his spot and to piss off.

I’m starting to dislike hummingbirds as much as the asshole bully of the back yard, the Blue Jay.

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104 replies
  1. 1
    Mnemosyne says:

    This is why jeffreyw has multiple feeders — there’s no way one bird can police them all, so the others can still get in for some food.

  2. 2

    Are you sure that Steve is not the one scaring the other humming birds off.

  3. 3
    jharp says:

    The absolute worst are sparrows. They kill native species. They are even worse than starlings.

  4. 4
    Ugh says:

    Where is the old man yells at clouds tag?

  5. 5
    the Conster says:

    You’re no DougJ.

  6. 6
    WereBear says:

    Get another hummingbird feeder. That’ll fix him.

  7. 7
    Felonius Monk says:

    Unleash the Steve!

  8. 8
    Pogonip says:

    You damn birds get off my lawn.

  9. 9
    Betty Gray says:

    That is why I have more than one. They can become very protective of their feeder.

  10. 10
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    That Hummingbird is the avatar of Ronald Reagan. Do something about it!

  11. 11
    TaMara (BHF) says:

    Amazing how in even the animal kingdom, one bully can cause the masses to cower in fear. Did you name him Limbaugh or Newt? Oh, no, Koch, name him Koch. A real 1%-er.

    It’s mine, all mine!!

  12. 12
    TaMara (BHF) says:

    I don’t know if anyone heard, but a house exploded in the Denver area – it was about 1/2 mile from my old neighborhood. They think it was a gas leak…nothing but a crater in the ground. My friends said it shook the ground in my old neighborhood.

  13. 13
    Betty Gray says:

    I have a cat , she dose not bother the birds. She just likes to watch them, and the rabbits.

  14. 14
    MattR says:

    If only birds had a second amendment. But that would just lead to “Hover your ground” laws.

  15. 15
    Jay C says:

    Do you have any idea what variety of hummingbird Backyard Bully is (and no, “red-tufted asshole” probably isn’t correct)?
    Sounds like a Ruby-throated.

  16. 16
    LT says:

    Sheesh let a little bird have a snarl fergoodnessake! He’s just a little bird! And I bet he’s even pretty!

  17. 17
    LT says:

    Screenplay: [John Cole is transported into The World Where Birds Rule. One day, he is called “to answer”].

    King Hummingbird: “You have to answer for Santino”.

    Cole: “What”?

    KH: “I mean, for slandering hummingbirds everywhere”.

  18. 18
    pseudonymous in nc says:

    This is what they do. They’ve found a food source and they’re going to protect it, because they have no idea it’s going to be refilled. They have tiny brains, and most of it is filled with how to fly at 30mph and the best route to and from Costa Rica.

    Multiple feeders, placed out of defending range of one another. We have ones on opposite sides of the house.

  19. 19
    2liberal says:

    is this an open thread, or are we restricted to hummingbirds as a topic?


    I emailed Kay and asked for an update. She has registered for NN and has plans: “I’m going to focus on the governors races, Warren’s speech and try to interview actual activists. “

  20. 20
    WaterGirl says:

    @2liberal: That sounds great! When I asked Kay whether they had collected enough money, she said she wasn’t the money counter.

    Is there a money counter in the house? Cole, do you have enough money to send Kay to NN, along with a little walking around money for the kay version of hook-ers and blow?

  21. 21
    Lavocat says:

    Um, you DO know that for such a tiny bird, hummingbirds are EXTREMELY territorial, right?

    Males will often kill one another for trespassing in another’s territory.

    Oh, they also have another nasty habit: if you piss them off, they will dive-bomb your face.

    Very scary shit if you’re not prepared for it.

    However, they are one of the coolest birds you will EVER see up close.

    They can outmaneuver ANY other bird in the world.

    Also, their metabolism rate is insane.

    Imagine a miniscule bird on crack and that’s your normal hummingbird.

  22. 22
    AndyG says:

    A few years back, an agave bloomed on a nearby hiking trail. Imagine a 15 foot tall hummingbird feeder with 20 flowering branches, each giving out pure hummingbird crack agave nectar. Aerial warfare doesn’t begin to describe it…… There were too many flowers for one bird to defend, but they were too close together to let each bird feed in peace. The thing I will remember is the noise of 20 pissed-off hummingbastards……..

  23. 23
  24. 24
    Achrachno says:

    @Jay C: No other possibility, given where John lives. Now, if he were to move to southern Arizona …

  25. 25
    NotMax says:

    Based on the past record, you will soon be feeding a 10-pound hummingbird.

  26. 26
    jeer9 says:

    As many others have mentioned, you need to have multiple feeders. It’s called territoriality, but I’m sure you know that. And I am surprised your cat has not found hummingbirds a predictable prey. Ours captures at least one a week, slinking in through the cat door and always taking his victim to the hall bathroom where he deposits it in the tub and then meows victoriously. Often, they are not yet dead, so my wife shoos the beast outside, takes the screen off the bathroom window, and waits until the shocked thing finds its way back to nature.

  27. 27
    WaterGirl says:

    @jeffreyw: Those feeders look like they have a larger diameter than what I usually see. Is that some special kind?

    Also, I saw these on amazon yesterday and thought they were kind of cool. Any experience with anything like this:

  28. 28
    Betty Gray says:

    That is the same kind we have in Ohio.>:

  29. 29
    Gvg says:

    It is their nature. You were philosophical about Steve catching a bird. You need multiple feeders. don’t bother with big ones, just get many small ones.

  30. 30
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    Yup, I remember the first time I saw a dominant, territorial hummingbird. it could get pretty nasty.

  31. 31
    Pogonip says:

    @TaMara (BHF): That happened about a block from my parents’ house; gas explosion. It was my first explosion; it sounded like a dull thud. My father, who’s been through 2 wars, immediately said, “What exploded?” and had us all get down for a few minutes. When we heard sirens we looked out and saw the smoke and flames from a block away.

  32. 32
    Anne Laurie says:

    Cole, you know what those blue jays are yelling, right?

    “Thief! Thief! Thief!”

    There’s an old story that all blue jays have to self-identify this way as a punishment, because the first blue jay was also a liar…

  33. 33
    jeffreyw says:

    @WaterGirl: Those are my favorite feeders, hold just shy of 1 quart, they have 6 feeding ports each. I’ve never hung any hummer specific perches like those but I betcha they would soon have hummers on them.

  34. 34
    Corner Stone says:

    Man, if I could just hang one freaking hummer specific feeder…

  35. 35
    Corner Stone says:

    @the Conster: I can’t tell you how much it pains me that you got there.

  36. 36
    Corner Stone says:

    @TaMara (BHF):

    but a house exploded in the Denver area

    That’s what I call some good shit!

  37. 37
    Corner Stone says:

    @2liberal: Jeebus. Ok, what’s left to get Kay to smooth cover NN this year?
    Preferably with pants, but at this point…

  38. 38
    maya says:

    @WaterGirl: Save yourself $11.95. Hummers will sit, perch on anything and it won’t cost a dime.

    Right now I’m looking/listening to about 12 hummers @ the backyard feeder. Same amount @ front kitchen window feeder Annas & Allens. Both residents of the area. In about another week the Rufus’ will arrive. Usually in excess of a dozen or two. They blow in for a two week vacation on their way somewhere else and literally overpower all the other hummers. And, they are the smallest, noisiest of them all. I have to refill a 32oz and an 18oz feeder at least 3 or 4 times a day. No shit. I buy sugar in 20lb bags just for these a-holes. But, you know what, they put on quite the show and everyone who sees it just keep snapping pics. I have so many photos I no longer bother.

  39. 39

    @2liberal: Could you have her email me? I need to know where to send the damned money. I’ve emailed her twice with no response.

  40. 40
    Helen says:

    Wait. What? Seriously. What? This reads like “Wow, ever noticed how big your hands are?” You know, those conversations we had in college when we were stoned.

    But maybe (probably?) it’s me.

  41. 41
    Corner Stone says:

    @Helen: It’s like a bad version of a Katt Williams stand up.
    “Daddy! Daddy! Somebody ate all the cheerios in the middle of the night!”
    “Well…they damn sure did.”

  42. 42
    jayjaybear says:

    The Aztec god of war, Huitzilopochtli, was represented as a hummingbird for a reason. They are tiny badass warriors.

  43. 43
    raven says:

    @jeffreyw: Great video dawg.

  44. 44
    raven says:

    @John (MCCARTHY) Cole: I forgot I chipped in.

  45. 45
    jayjaybear says:

    @Anne Laurie: That’s one of Thornton Burgess’s Mother West Wind stories, How Sammy Jay Was Found Out”.

  46. 46
    Helen says:

    @Corner Stone: Great – so it’s not just me.

  47. 47
    Kay says:

    @John (MCCARTHY) Cole:

    I did! I replied!

  48. 48
    raven says:

    @Kay: Now it’s gettin good.

  49. 49
    Kay says:


    Thanks, and I sent him the email so we’re all caught up now :)

  50. 50
    raven says:

    @Kay: Yay, look forward to your observations.

  51. 51
    Kay says:


    This same thing just happened to me at work this week except it was my birthday, too.

    Unforgivable. I may never speak to either of my two co-workers again, which will be awkward and probably also impossible :)

  52. 52
  53. 53

    We pulled all four feeders from our backyard. Four was good – too many for one hummingbird to guard at once – but the problem was that the hummingbirds started to nest in the yard. Which would have been fine, except the crows came in and have killed every single baby hummingbird (and really, every single baby anything) for two years straight.

    Too hard to watch that. Next year I will be shooting the crows.

  54. 54
    srv says:

    He sits up in the pine tree, and if anyone else comes in, he attacks them and then just sits up on the pole supporting the feeder.

    You have your own John Galt in your back yard.

  55. 55
    raven says:

    @CONGRATULATIONS!: Did you count them first?

  56. 56
    Mary G says:

    I had the same problem; talked about it on garden chat one Sunday and everyone said to get more feeders. Now the one hummingbird guards all three of them.

    Once I had a couple that had figured out how to tag team the bully bird – one would distract him while the other ate, but the ones we have now don’t seem to know how to do that. They are mean little buggers.

  57. 57
    p.a. says:

    Be careful placing/adding feeders if you are in the yard a lot. My former Maine camp owner had multiple feeders, and the area could be impassable with the hummfuckers jockeying for position and trying to defend feeders. It was awesome to sit outside the danger zone and watch the show, but inside it was like a hypodermic needle shooting range. They are certainly maneuverable enough to avoid people, but they tend to be single-minded about getting and protecting food.

  58. 58

    Did you count them first?

    @raven: Like the band! It would be quite the hobby.

    Our local crow population has exploded. They’ve either killed or driven out most of the seagulls. Seagulls are vicious enough in their own way, but crows are far worse and smarter than most people I’ve met. And they hatch 7 chicks a year! We’re gonna be up to our assholes in crows soon.

  59. 59
    p.a. says:

    W.Va DNR: only Ruby Throated found there. Maybe start petition to change the name to Cole’s Tufted Red-Neck. Can call them Good Ol’ Boys for short.

  60. 60
    Ruckus says:

    If you had their metabolism you’d require what 50 lbs of food a day? That’s maybe what 20,000 cals? Which is about 10 times what you need. You wouldn’t want anyone to steal any of that if just getting and eating it would take 12-15 hrs a day. And sitting on the throne took another 4-5.

  61. 61
    MikeJ says:

    The Simpsons taught me badgers eat hummingbirds. Rather than cull them we could just get a few shipped your way.

  62. 62
    Lavocat says:

    Another problem w/ hummingbirds: if your feeders are not cleaned regularly, they are prone to infections & parasites.

    It is also not uncommon to plow through BAGS of sugar per week feeding these little monsters.

    Personally, I love them.

    I fell asleep on the porch and awoke to find several perched upon me.

    There are no words to describe being awoken by the many, tiny brushstrokes that are a hummingbirds wings.

    In fact, if I had my druthers, this is precisely how I’d like to awaken from sleep each and every time. Ultra-cool.

  63. 63
    MattR says:

    @Mike J: Badgers?!? We don’t need no stinkin’ badgers!

    (EDIT: FYWP!!! Was eating my posts until I added a space into your nym)

  64. 64
    2liberal says:

    @John (MCCARTHY) Cole:

    Could you have her email me? I need to know where to send the damned money. I’ve emailed her twice with no response.


  65. 65
    Corner Stone says:

    @Helen: So…ummm…how do you feel about really handsome men?
    And by that I mean, very handsome men living within a 20 mile radius of downtown Houston who are over 6ft, have a 9 yr old son and a wicked ass sense of humor. ?
    Because, heck yes, I know of at least one that fits the bill.

  66. 66
    Wag says:


    Not THAT is cool

  67. 67
    Betsy says:

    @jharp: only English sparrows do that. There are many native sparrow species and all of them are protected. Yes, however, house (aka) English sparrows are a vicious, nearly unstoppable assassin to native birds and are not protected by law and should be exterminated.

  68. 68
    different-church-lady says:

    And yet you let people who act just like that hummingbird litter up the comments.

  69. 69
    Betsy says:

    @Achrachno: it could be a rufous hummingbird or (rarely) an Allen’s. It has been known to occur.

    But exceedingly likely to be a ruby throated.

  70. 70
    Betsy says:

    @Anne Laurie: mine say “Cat! Cat! Cat!”

  71. 71
    Kay says:


    Thanks. I’m yelling at him privately now so I think it’s well on its way to being resolved :)

  72. 72
    Helen says:

    @Corner Stone: Really handsome? How handsome is REALLY handsome? Over 6 ft? Well, I know a girl who is short; 5’2″, who had a BLAST dating a 6’5″ boy. A kid with a sense of humor, or does the 6 ft man have a sense of humor? I LOVE a sense of humor. Make me laugh and I will follow you anywhere.

    Houston? You mean Texas? Oh no!!! sorry. That there is wingnut territory. And HOT weather territory. Have you not been paying attention? I am moving to Ireland for retirement. Top of August it is 75 degrees. Yesssssssss.

  73. 73
    Zeecube says:

    Multiple feeders should help feed the other humming birds. Place one around the corner or as some suggest on the opposite side of the house out of the bully’s line of sight. It cannot guard what it cannot see.

  74. 74
  75. 75
    RandomMonster says:

    Hummingbirds are super-territorial. It’s just how they roll. Or hover. Whatever.

    I don’t know how you could dislike jays. Or any corvids. You have to appreciate how clever they are.

  76. 76
    Helen says:

    @Corner Stone: Oh wait just one more time. Did I miss the code? HECK?? yes. Oh no, you didn’t ;)

  77. 77
    Corner Stone says:

    @Helen: Damn. I was this close. I mean *this* close.
    I have a fucked sense of humor, because shit is fucked up and bullshit. But my son still tells jokes. Like, straight no bullshit jokes. Because he still believes in some fundamental sense of humanity. He’d probably unironically text you in the middle of the day to ask if you’ve left fresh water for the wild rabbits who ramble through our backyard.
    I’d probably just make you kick ass nachos and make sure we had plenty of your favorite bath soap(s) on hand.
    Still TX though. Oh well.
    Heck yes I did.

  78. 78
    mainmata says:

    @Betty Gray: We have a couple of cats. They also like to just watch the birds and the rabbits despite my lectures to go after the rabbits because, you know, garden, etc. We also have quite a few foxes for a neighborhood not far from DC and once I discovered a kit sitting no more than 2 feet from one of the cats engaged in a staring contest. Have no idea how long they had been doing that but I ran out immediately before it became “There will be Blood” (frankly not sure whose it would have been either).

  79. 79
    Helen says:

    @Corner Stone: So much to say. But here’s where I will start. Kick ass nachos? Keep talking.

  80. 80
    Corner Stone says:

    @Helen: I’ve already started. I made King Ranch Chicken and then turned it into nachos. Using both my homegrown tomatoes and also my own backyard patio grown hot peppers.
    And for those who aren’t familiar, KRC is a casserole with chicken, onions, tomatoes, peppers and cheese. Bake for about 45 minutes at 375, take the foil off, spread grated cheese(s) on top and let go for another 15 minutes.
    Let cool off, spoon onto Tostitos chips, sprinkle more fresh grated cheese on top, bake for a few more minutes. Then splash hot sauce of your choice on top for flavor.

  81. 81
    Diana says:

    @MattR: too cute. Really.

    but I agree with the others on this thread, have multiple feeders. A friend of mine in Seattle with hummingbirds ran into the same problem, so he installed multiple feeders on his front porch. Asshole-in-residence-hummingbird took to policing them from a central viewpoint, so he had to install them around his house, outside of the sightlines of the porch.

    Hummingbirds are assholes: agreed.

  82. 82
    Helen says:

    @Corner Stone: Sounds awesome but GAWD I live in NYC. Can you deliver them those nachos here? Bring the handsome, funny boy, also, too.

  83. 83
    Betsy says:

    They’re not assholes. They’re eighth-of-an-ounce warm-blooded creatures who live on *sugar*, then fly *800 miles* non-stop across open ocean every year in order not to freeze to death in North America.

    You’d guard your calorie source too.

    Just sayin

  84. 84
    Andrew says:

    Male Hummingbirds a aggressively territorial,

  85. 85
    Betsy says:

    @Betsy: Dick Cheney, now that’s an asshole.

  86. 86
    Jewish Steel says:

    Is someone trying to start a romantic comedy on this thread?

  87. 87
    Steeplejack says:

    Stayed up to watch the Braves beat the Nats in extra innings, and then I got sucked into The Sea Hawk (1940) on TCM. Errol Flynn doing some of his finest swashbuckling. Just did a spit-take because within five minutes I saw Jay Silverheels (Tonto on The Lone Ranger) and Edgar Buchanan (Uncle Joe on Petticoat Junction) in (tiny) bit parts.

    And Brenda Marshall is hot in the canonical role of the prim, starchy leading lady who can’t get that pirate man out of her head.

  88. 88
    max says:

    @Jewish Steel: Is someone trying to start a romantic comedy on this thread?

    Angry Hummingbirds

    [‘He was looking for some sugar… but she had knocked down the feeder!’]

  89. 89
    Anne Laurie says:

    @Anne Laurie: @CONGRATULATIONS!:

    Next year I will be shooting the crows.

    Well, to protect the tender-hearted, you can always call them ‘cheneys’.

    “Shot another damned cheney today, before the fcker could murder any more hummers.”

    “Good job. Did you remember to hang the corpse up, as a warning to the others?”

  90. 90
    Jewish Steel says:

    @max: Aww. That’s a rom com I could get behind.

  91. 91
    J.A.F. Rusty Shackleford says:

    @the Conster:

    Too soon.

  92. 92
    efgoldman says:


    Dick Cheney, now that’s an asshole.

    You shouldn’t disrespect hard working assholes, like that.

  93. 93
    gian says:

    on the subject of assholes, the NRA and the gun lovers and their fear of background checks helped this happen.

    PANAMA CITY, Fla. (AP) — A new father in Florida was killed by a stray bullet that traveled more than 200 feet from a neighbor’s house and hit him in the back of the head.

    Bay County Sheriff’s officials were quoted by the The News Herald of Panama City ( as saying that 33-year-old Steven Justin Ayers was killed instantly during a family gathering he and his wife, Jessica, were having at their home to celebrate the birth of their 3-day-old son, born on Father’s Day.

    Police say Ayers’ 62-year-old neighbor Charles Edward Shisler is accused of manslaughter and possession of a firearm by a felon. Investigators say Shisler told them the 9 mm pistol accidentally discharged when he picked it up inside his home Tuesday night. The bullet traveled through Shisler’s window and into the Ayers home.

  94. 94
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:


    Investigators say Shisler told them the 9 mm pistol accidentally discharged when he picked it up inside his home Tuesday night.

    Bullshit. It was locked and cocked and he touched the trigger anyone who isn’t an asshole doesn’t a finger anywhere near the trigger of a weapon one has not cleared.

  95. 95
    Thymezone says:

    Uh, hummingbirds are totally and absolutely territorial. It is part of their essential life cycle behavior. That’s they way they are, get over it for crissakes.

  96. 96
    Squiregeek says:

    I have a female hummer who chases everyone away from ‘her’ feeder. We call her the hummingbitch!

    Anyone who uses the phrase, ‘eats like a bird,’ never tried to feed them. We go through seventy pounds of sugar a year feeding hummers. It’s not unusual to have over twenty in the window vying for feeder space.

  97. 97
    The Other Chuck says:

    In Colorado, the common term for hummingbird feeders is “bear feeders”.

  98. 98
    LAC says:

    @Thymezone: next cole article : “squirrels: nut gathering motherfuckers”

  99. 99
    Jasmine Bleach says:

    @Anne Laurie:

    “Good job. Did you remember to hang the corpse up, as a warning to the others?”

    Oh, no–don’t ever do that! That’ll just attract more of them. I’ve seen enough roadkilled crows being eaten by other crows . . . they don’t seem to be particular.

  100. 100
    J R in WV says:

    We put up several feeders for the Ruby-throated SOBs. Wife calls them jet propelled olives!

    Was sitting on the back porch one summer day and one male HB was chasing another male HB around the house. They came at me at top speed (40 mph!! no kidding!) , one passed on each side of my head, missing me by like 2 inches… I could feel the wind of their passage on both sides!

    Friend who is a big gardener has multiple feeders, living in rural Ohio. Was working in the garden one day when surrounded by dozens of ANGRY Hummers, who herded her to the kitchen to make more nectar for them, all the feeders were empty. She had no choice, she said, but to go prep more food. Buncha junkies! But smart, knew to get her, knew where to take her.

    Humminbirds don’t live on nectar, it’s just a highball for them! They live on airborne bugs, picking them right out of the air at 25-40 mph or so. Sugar water is just speed for them. Well, that’s not strictly true, but they do need insects as well as nectar.

  101. 101
    Ella in New Mexico says:

    According to my son, who studied them for four years, it’s these guys who are the real A-holes:,9307/

  102. 102
    skippy says:

    @Betsy: best explanation ever

  103. 103
    kindness says:

    I have two hummingbird feeders up. Hard to be king of the hill of both.

  104. 104
    marindenver says:

    @maya: Don’t know where you are from but the rufous are on their way to the Colorado Rockies where they are the badass “boys are back in town” to the peaceful broadtails who’ve been there since May. The bad boys show up around the first of July, mate, nest, raise their JD offspring and head back south around the end of August. Makes for very entertaining watching from my front porch at my high Rockies cabin. I do put up several feeders but it’s amazing how many one little gorgeous copper colored asshole rufous can guard from the trees!

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