Foiling a Bully Hummingbird

If you have a hummingbird feeder, you will get an adult male who acts as though the feeder is his sole province. He will fight all other birds that attempt to visit the feeder, often crashing into them with a smack to drive them off. Many experts used to recommend placing other feeders around your yard, out of sight of your bully male. However, that this only serves to permit other bullies to set up their “turfs” in these locations.

Current conventional wisdom is to group all of your feeders in a tight clump. In late summer, when adults and the young birds from the first brood are all trying to visit the feeders, territorial male hummers will get tired and overwhelmed. Soon they will just give up and let everyone feed in peace.

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  • Carabec

    I have one Feeder with two openings. I have two Females. Their names are Itsey and Bitsey.
    Bitsey is a Bully! When Itsey comes around Bitsey blocks her MidAir and drives her away.

  • Galy

    I don’t see many birds. Usually 1 at a time except for when the bully is after a bird. I have 7 feeders placed around my house and the bully follows the other bird constantly around the perimeter. My question is, will birds that are being bullied find a new home or will they stick it out at the familiar location?

  • Luiza

    False. I went from two half-gallon feeders to 4 half-gallon feeders and I have nothing but horrendous screeching and dive bombing from 5am – 7pm. He even stabs them so hard from a telephone pole wire they end up dead on the sidewalk 2 floors below. I have them under the roof of my porch, hidden from view and it does NO good. The bullies have completely sucked any joy this used to bring. I now feel like I’m feeding pests. I’ve tried spraying water on him, guarding the feeders myself, and NOTHING helps. I strongly believe all these “put out more feeder” suggestions are simply advertising. It’s certainly made my problems worse. My poor neighbors listening to the zig zagging high pitched screech all fkg day. I can’t even leave my door open the noise gives me a migraine. I would PAY someone to shoot this horrible animal. THAT is the ONLY fix for these retched creatures. Killing all the other species, all you will end up with every few yrs are these bullies. They kill off all the others w/attacks or starvation.

    • Well, Luiza, if you are not enjoying feeding the hummingbirds, I suggest you stop doing so! The hummingbirds don’t need food from humans. For countless millennia hummingbirds have been thriving with no help from humans. And for as long, some hummingbirds have been bullies. It is a characteristic of the species. We feed birds to draw them close to us and give us joy, and, maybe, to make their lives a bit easier. But if you are not enjoying this because some are bullies, then you really should stop. Dawn Hewitt, Bird Watcher’s Digest

      • Luiza

        Thank you Dawn for the reminder they don’t need us. I really need to take a break. I have no kitchen and I’m mixing 96 cups of nectar a week. I live in an urban area of Los Angeles & we had a crazed person break all the feeders in an 8 block radius. Only mine are left. We have trees but not a lot of foliage. I’m going to try and raise some funds & distribute a flyer offering a free feeder & bag of sugar to anyone interested. I put four Perky Pet 48oz feeders out at 5am and they are empty by 7pm the next day. I’ve been feeding them for 14 yrs but the more feeders I put out, the louder & more aggressive this rufous has become. It’s raining and cold & I’m locked in my apt w/the ac running trying to drown out his screeching. Definitely no joy! I’ll stop feeding them it’s just upsetting that this ONE bully rufous has to ruin life for everyone! While a quiet little Anna will float right in front of my face just to say hello. Frustrating!

    • Your sweetness mixture is most likely too high. If you cut it back to no more than 25% sugar and 75% water the bullying should stop. If the nectar reaches 40% sugar, the need to protect the find becomes too great, and they will fight off anyone trying to steal their cache.

      • Luiza

        1/4 cup sugar to 1 cup of water. I’ve been feeding them for 14 yrs. It’s not called a bully rufous for no reason. I bought hanging basket hooks & hung 2 more 1/2 gallon feeders behind our bldg & in the neighbors bkyd. No change in this aholes behavior. Non stop screeching & dive bombing. I took Dawns advice & just took them all down. Like everything else in Los Angeles, non stop screeching, screaming & violence for no reason. This breed refuses to co-exist in my little eco-system. We had a drought for 4 yrs I’m thinking that is what made them become so unbearably violent.

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