Hummingbirds. Beautiful. Tiny. Surely these are the sweetest of all birds.
Spoiler alert: no.
I once heard hummingbirds described as miniature fighter pilots with pit bull personalities. From what I’ve seen, this is entirely accurate.
Throughout my childhood, my mom had a single hummingbird feeder hanging over our deck, and let me tell you, hummingbirds are a scrappy lot. They’re territorial and constantly dive-bombing one another. When two males challenge each other, I’ve seen them fly around in tight circles, feathers spread in challenge displays. They get so focused on each other that I’ve seen them bounce off branches, windows, and even the side of our house!
Don’t believe me? Check out this article: Male Hummingbirds Use Beaks As Daggers To Stab Opponents’ Throats
Here’s a really good quality video of normal hummingbird footage, including what they sound like. Hummingbirds don’t just make sound by “tweeting” (or squeaking), they also make sounds with their wings. Their “humming” (created with their feathers) will vary depending on what they’re trying to communicate. An angry hummingbird is a loud, buzzing hummingbird (it’s usually very vocal, too). Individual hums also vary.
At one point in the above video, you can actually hear them whack into each other.
After 0:27 the dive-bombing starts.
Around the 1:56 mark, you can see one hummingbird poke his tongue out the end of his beak. They actually do it quite a few times over the course of the video. It always reminds me of the Road Runner sticking his tongue out at Wile E. Coyote.
Hummingbird mating dances are really cute though. I remember seeing one kind at home. The male would fly straight up in the sky with a little “zoop zoop zoop” sound, and then dive back down with a high-pitched “pew” sound. I tried to find footage of it for you guys, but apparently given how tiny they are and how fast they’re moving over a large space, it’s really hard to catch on video. I did find this cute, puffy hummingbird “singing” a courtship song:
But I think this might be my new favorite kind of hummingbird. Look! Kite tails and fluffy legs!
Remember folks, they’re only cute because they’re squeaky.
So, readers? Did you know that hummingbirds were really mean little fighting machines? Or did this come as a surprise? I’d love to read your hummingbird stories!