Hummingbirds are pretty, but they're also grumpy and they like to fight.
March 16, 2009 1:53 PM   Subscribe

That. Is. Cool.

Hummingbirds are pretty fearless. I made the mistake one day of sitting out on my back porch, dressed in a red t-shirt. A hummingbird (an Anna's, the most common kind in the SF, CA area) came to within a foot or so of me, examined me very closely ("Are you food?"), and when she determined I was not food, she sat down on a railing a couple of feet away and yelled at me for a couple of minutes. It was great.
posted by rtha at 2:05 PM on March 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

That's a thirsty little hummingbird. A verycuteohsocutelookisn'thethirstywaitdon'tmoveyoumightscarehim hummingbird.
posted by william_boot at 2:07 PM on March 16, 2009

His Vimeo account has many wonderful videos of hummingbirds.
posted by robtf3 at 2:08 PM on March 16, 2009

Very cool, but not as gargantuan of a feat as it might seem. Last summer, my hummingbird was (rightly) upset with me for letting the feeder go dry for a couple days. Before I could hang it back up, he immediately started lapping up the sweet, sweet nectar.

But then again, I have my scrub jays trained to take peanuts from the palm of my hand too, so maybe *I'm* a bird whisperer as well.
posted by mudpuppie at 2:14 PM on March 16, 2009

I thought the sound in these clips rocked.

I saw a dead humming bird once. Took me a bit to figure out what it was since I'd never seen one with wings at rest.
posted by cjorgensen at 2:20 PM on March 16, 2009

Sweet video. The stuff with them eating from his hand was almost showboating, but so cool.

My parents used to have a place along a lake and it was regularly swarmed by Ruby-Throats. We, of course, kept several feeders filled. I learned two things about those little guys...1) They do, indeed, rest. It was not unusual to see a couple of them sitting on a branch for a moment. 2) They chirp. Honest.

Cool little birds.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:29 PM on March 16, 2009

Very cool, but not as gargantuan of a feat as it might seem.

This is true of most birds. If you sit still in their usual feeding space, they will come eat from your hand. No special bird whispering skills required...only a bit of patience.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:29 PM on March 16, 2009

mudpuppie, I hate to break it to you, but scrub jays are easy.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:31 PM on March 16, 2009

Hummingbird story.

In 1988 I worked moving pianos in NYC. My two co-workers and myself entered the service elevator at an east-side apartment building, went up to the floor where our customers piano was. After putting the piano on the dolly, we wheeled it out to the same elevator car. The doors opened and there was a dead Hummingbird in the middle of the floor of the elevator.

Very odd.
posted by pianomover at 2:31 PM on March 16, 2009

That was pretty rad. I also liked the sound, made me wish it was really spring.
posted by birdie birdington at 2:33 PM on March 16, 2009

mudpuppie, I hate to break it to you, but scrub jays are easy.

Tell me about it. First time I saw the female in those fishnet stockings, I had her number.
posted by mudpuppie at 2:34 PM on March 16, 2009

Oh, HA! Filthy light thief, I just saw the Wiki page you linked to. That stuff about feeding them? I'm the one who added that to the page.
posted by mudpuppie at 2:36 PM on March 16, 2009

Most jays are probably pretty easy (maybe not Stellar's - they seem more shy than other jays). I got mugged by some gray jays once, on a mountainside near Seattle. We sat down to eat our sandwiches and a dozen or so gray jays flew out of the trees and hung out. After a few minutes I had one on each knee. I'm pretty sure that if I hadn't been eating really fast, they would've just snatched the sandwich away from me.

I did give them some gorp.
posted by rtha at 2:38 PM on March 16, 2009

maybe not Stellar's - they seem more shy than other jays

Oh god, they're the worst! At least they are in the campgrounds and picnic areas of the Sierra.
posted by mudpuppie at 2:41 PM on March 16, 2009

dude. that rocked. thanks, dipso!
posted by CitizenD at 2:45 PM on March 16, 2009

I normally want to hate SLYT posts, but oh wow, not this one. I can't wait for them to return.

Which seems soon, according to this map: click me.
posted by fijiwriter at 2:49 PM on March 16, 2009

That's a pretty cool video. I plant bee- and bird-attracting flowers and draw a lot of hummingbirds. For a few years, my favorite was a bold little female Anna's who liked to buzz my face and lick my cheek whenever I was out gardening. When my son got a little older and learned how to sit still, she licked his cheeks too.

Occasionally, hummingbirds fly into my atrium and get trapped under the Lexan roof. The atrium is two stories high and the only way to get the hummingbirds out before they succumb to heat exhaustion is to hose them down with a SuperSoaker until their feathers are too wet to fly. I'll pick them up (they weigh less than nothing, it's weird to have the disconnect of visually seeing something in your hand yet feel nothing) and set them outside on the patio table until they dry off enough and vroooom, lift off. Hopefully, this is the year where I can install a remote-controlled motorized roof vent up there so I can stop feeling bad about hosing hummingbirds out of the air.
posted by jamaro at 2:50 PM on March 16, 2009 [2 favorites]

The last place I lived, there was a hummingbird that would come shower in the overspray fairly often in the summertime while I hand watered my fuscias. We'd do a little dance. I'd move the spray a little bit this way and that, and the hummingbird would follow. This would last for up to five minutes.

In my current location, we have hummingbirds that are here year round, as well as seasonal visitors. It's not unusual for the hummingbirds to fly down and have a look at you, hovering one or two feet in front of your face, just checking you out.

Although I think the weirdest bird experience we've had here happened one day when my wife and I were talking in front of our garage, taking a rest from gardening. The automatic garage door was open, as was the back garage door into our garden. While we stood there talking to each other, maybe four feet apart, a hawk swooped down, flew between our faces, into our garage, and out the back door. What a showoff!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:54 PM on March 16, 2009

mudpuppie, you minimized the impressiveness of your own abilities. How meta.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:59 PM on March 16, 2009

I've been properly trained by my neighborhood Hummingbirds. The last time I let their feeder run dry one hovered over me and pooped.
posted by snsranch at 2:59 PM on March 16, 2009 [2 favorites]

I rented a farmhouse one year, way out in the ozarks. I would sit on the front porch swing, and play my flute. The hummingbirds would fly past, inches from my ears, to hover in front of me, watching while I played.

I'd put up one feeder on the front porch, but they fought over it constantly, so I put another feeder on the other side of the house. They would look thru the windows between the two feeders, see someone at the other feeder, and ended up continuously flying between the two feeders, still fighting at each one.
posted by nomisxid at 3:56 PM on March 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

To hummingbirds, people look like slow-growing plants.
posted by StickyCarpet at 4:11 PM on March 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

And these little guys are related to dinosaurs. Damn, evolution is amazing. Fantastic link, thank you!
posted by longdaysjourney at 4:31 PM on March 16, 2009

It isn't the gargantuanity of the feat, it's the HOLY CRAP HUMMINGBIRDS ARE AWESOME. They can hover. Over sugar WATER.
posted by DU at 5:48 PM on March 16, 2009

One day in the Great North Woods, I sat in my yard and watched as a hummingbird carefully inspected the red handle of my lawnmower, which looked exactly like some trumpet-shaped flower. He didn't find anything sweet, so went on his way. But that sound of their wings has had me jump more than once, thinking some giant bumblebee was seeking me as a target.

In the San Diego Zoo, they have a small attachment to their aviary, just for hummingbirds. At least when I was there (mid 80's), you could go inside, and they would fly around. It was cool, but I do recall one of them that just flew back-and-forth, in that heart-breaking behavior that screams, "I hate this cage!".

Awesome post, beautiful video.
posted by Goofyy at 6:15 AM on March 17, 2009

Thinking about doing this myself gives me the most delightful shivers.

The last time I let their feeder run dry one hovered over me and pooped.

Tell us, snsranch, how adorable was its poop?
posted by Rora at 11:28 AM on March 17, 2009

I'm glad you ask, it was pretty adorable actually, like a little drop of rain.
posted by snsranch at 4:13 PM on March 17, 2009

Video gone. :(
posted by e40 at 5:46 PM on March 21, 2009

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