Sep 01 2008

Pugnacious

Published by at 7:29 am under Migration,Songbirds

I love to watch ruby-throated hummingbirds at the Harbourside Inn. 

Innkeeper John Sweet is an organic gardener, so when he grows tomatoes he plants them with other species that provide pest protection.  That’s why he’s created a mixed border along the driveway of cherry tomatoes and nasturtiums.

At this time of year female and immature ruby-throated hummingbirds are passing through Maine on their way to Central America.  When the migrants reach Northeast Harbor they’re at the ocean.  They can’t go south; they must go west.  John Sweet’s nasturtiums are a welcome refueling stop.

Even though they’re on migration and have no territory to defend, the hummingbirds fight over the nasturtiums.  I often watch a single hummingbird move from flower to flower when a second appears and chases the first away.  The loser perches on a branch and waits.

The second bird is dominant so she feeds undisturbed.  Eventually the first one sneaks back to the flowers and feeds in a hidden corner of the border but the dominant bird finally sees her and gives chase again.

This goes on long after I’m tired of watching it.

Some days there aren’t any hummingbirds at the nasturtiums.  The weather the night before must have been good for migration so yesterday’s birds moved on and new ones haven’t arrived yet.  But they’ll be here soon.  In Maine in early September there seems to be an endless supply of pugnacious hummingbirds.

(photo by Chuck Tague)

2 responses so far

2 Responses to “Pugnacious”

  1. RAYon 03 Sep 2008 at 12:41 pm

    KATE,
    SPEAKING ABOUT MIGRATIONS, I WAS GOLFING @ NORTH PARK GOLF COURSE TUESDAY EVENING 9-2-2008 AND WAS AMAZED AT HOW MANY COMMON NIGHTHAWKS WHERE FEEDING AROUND THE GOLF COURSE. THERE MUST HAVE A FIFTY BIRDS OR MORE. WE ALSO SAW ABOUT 2 DOZEN CANADIAN GEESE, FOUR WILD TURKEYS, ABOUT A DOZEN CROWS, TWO BLUEBIRDS & NUMEROUS GROUNDHOGS & DEER.

  2. Markon 04 Sep 2008 at 9:45 pm

    Kate,

    Over the past two weeks or so, I have been seeing a lot of hummingbird activity around stands of orange jewelweed. It must be a favorite.

    Mark

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