cardinals are social creatures. they have pretty good manners. occasionally a male will make a feint towards another cardinal in a half-hearted attempt to show who's boss, but they don't seem very serious about it.
we get a few tiny brown spotted birds, i'm not sure what they are. they'd love to take up residence on the back porch, but mom keeps rousting them, relocating their half-built nests into the woods. they blame me for this. every now and then one of them will land on the porch railing and just stand there, giving me the evil eye.
chickadees are the most well-mannered of them all. mom has a feeder especially for small birds, it's surrounded by a metal mesh they have to climb through to get to it. it's not unusual to see three or four chickadees in that small, claustrophobic space, but they never seem to bother each other.
A Male Ruby-Throated Hummingbird. Females and juveniles look much the same, but without the iridescent red throat markings. This is the kind we get in our yard. Photo by Dan True.
i saw the first one on august the 6th. i did not have the feeder out, but the bird showed up on the side of the porch where i had hung it before. so that individual was almost certainly here last year. the bird bounced off various things, a planter, an empty flowerpot, a small statue, it's internal monologue was all like "not the feeder, not the feeder, not the feeder, nope that's not the feeder either ... hey, what IS this? does that guy know we don't show up here for his snappy repartée?" i had the feeder out in a couple of hours, and it wasn't long before i saw four birds at once.
since they don't show up until so late in the year, i guess they don't consider our lake to be proper summering grounds. by the time they get here, they're probably already on their way south for the winter. they will all be gone by early october, so that's only eight weeks of hummingbirds per year. dude, that is WACK.
here's another unpleasant development. after the first few days, a large-ish male appointed himself The Feeder Sheriff. he's always hanging out in one of the trees in the middle of the yard, trying not to be noticed. if any other hummingbirds try to horn in on "his" feeder, he leaps into action and aggressively chases them away. the other birds are attempting faster and more stealthy approaches every day, but The Feeder Sheriff always manages to run them off.
hummingbirds can screech to a stop in mid-air if they want, but i'm sure it's difficult to defeat all that momentum when they're flying so fast, since they're trying to evade The Feeder Sheriff, and it's probably not a good idea to come to a dead stop when you're being chased. so they take a wide turn through the porch's airspace before heading back into the yard. that wide turn just happens to intersect with the chair where i sit. i've lost track of the number of times i've almost gotten a face-full of angry hummingbirds. it always startles the crap out of me, but i have to admit that i love it. on the list of things hummingbirds worry about, i rank one zillionth. they are so fearless.
i am really coming to dislike The Feeder Sheriff. he's supposed to be preparing for a grueling flight across the gulf of mexico, but no, he'd rather harass other members of his own species. stupid bird. i guess this means i'll have to get one or two other feeders, so the rest of them have a chance.