Hummingbirds can become quite aggressive toward each other since they are very territorial animals. Species such as the ruby throated hummingbird can become very possessive of feeders. I enjoy feeding hummingbirds where we live, which is on one of the bird’s migratory routes to Mexico. I admire these amazing little birds endurance and marvel at how they can fly for thousands of miles with hardly any reserves of body fat. As much as I love to feed them each year, it distresses me how hummingbirds fight over feeders. At times they will appear to feed peacefully with each other at the feeder and at other times, one lone bird will hijack the feeder as his own and run off any other birds that come near. Diving and spinning like F-16 fighters, they use their beaks to attack any newcomers to the humminbird feeder. Also, hummingbirds fighting over a feeder is much more likely when you have a mix of species, such as ruby throated hummingbirds along with rufous hummingbirds.
How To Stop Hummingbirds Fighting Over Feeders
To reduce hummingbirds fighting over a feeder your only option is to install other feeders on your property that are out of sight of each other. For example, to prevent hummingbirds from fighting over feeders I place one on the back porch of the hose, another on the front porch and two on each sides. When placing hummingbird feeders it is very important that you don’t place them too close to windows. When hummingbirds are fighting over feeders they can be killed or injured if they accidentally crash into a window. Even if your feeder is several feet away from your windows, it’s a good idea to place decals on your windows so that the birds will be able to see them. You can find special “anti bird-window-collision stickers” online and in many pet stores. Each year millions of birds die needlessly after hitting windows.
You can’t completely stop hummingbirds fighting over feeders, but you can reduce this behavior quite a bit by placing additional feeders at various locations around your property. During the migration season however, there may be lots of hummingbirds fighting over each of your feeders since there are so many in the area. When migration time comes I usually add another six to eight feeders.
Thoughts On Feeding Hummingbirds
It is not true that you can delay the migration of hummingbirds by keeping your feeders out too late. The urge to migrate is so strong it will override any desire to stay near a feeder. If there are late season hummingbirds at your feeder they may be old or sick birds, and you may help give them a better chance at survival by helping them with extra food. Never use red dye in your hummingbird feeder, period. It is not necessary to use red dye to attract hummingbirds and if you just want the pretty color, choose a hummingbird feeder with colored glass. Red dye #40 is widely known to trigger migraines in humans and the full effects of this man made chemical on the system of a tiny bird such as a hummingbird are not well known. Also, never feed hummingbirds soda water, honey, artificial sweeter, etc. A mix of four cups of hot water to one cup of sugar is recommended. Always clean your feeders once a week and use a pipe cleaner to clean out the tips of the feeding tubes or holes. Hummingbirds can pass on disease from bird to bird at a dirty feeder. Sterilize your feeder using bleach and hot water and then rinse it out thoroughly.
Below is a photo of a hummingbird feeder made of red glass.