All four birds, I believe, are black-chinned hummingbirds. There is one male, and his black hood is unmistakable. He only shows up rarely, and usually when the others aren't around. The others are either females or immature males. I'm leaning toward young females. I'm also assuming they are all black-chins, although ruby-throated females are common to this area as well, and are practically indistinguishable from female black-chins. There may be a male ruby-throat as well, but glimpses have been fleeting and inconclusive.
They are very territorial birds, and one, let's call "Cranky Pants," decided the feeder was hers, and hers alone. Whenever another approached, she unleashed a stream of high-pitched birdie profanity and chased the interloper away. So we got a second feeder, and placed it at the other end of the yard. Now Cranky Pants works herself into a frenzy trying to guard both of them, darting to different perches to try and keep both in sight. It's highly amusing to watch.
Today was the first day I'd seen all four birds at once. The kids were playing in the back yard, and there was a full-blown hummingbird turf war going on. They ignored the humans present completely, even weaving between us on occasion. Indignant squeaks of rage. Wheeling, zipping, spinning aerobatics. Cranky Pants was not happy the other birds were poaching her feeders, and as she chased one off, the other two would swoop in and drink nectar until Cranky Pants returned and the cycle started again. One took to flying a loop around the house whenever Cranky Pants swooped in, getting a few good drinks in before her pursuer figured out what'd happened and came rocketing back. As you can tell, the whole dramatic scene is highly comical and entertaining.
This evening, a little before sunset, two of the interlopers arrived at a feeder simultaneously, while Cranky Pants was off chasing bugs or whatnot. The two hesitated a moment before giving the equivalent of a birdie shrug and both perched on opposite sides of the feeder and drank their fill. At regular intervals they'd stop and look around for Cranky Pants before returning to their meal. Lots of personality in these little birds. They were gone by the time I'd retrieved the digital camera, unfortunately. As the evening progressed, both the male and Cranky Pants returned to the feeder and I was able to get a few shots. The light was waning, so the male's pictures turned out grainy and pixellated, but Cranky Pants was caught in a few moderately detailed shots, as you can see above.
As soon as the apple, pear and plum trees get a little bigger, I'm pretty confident we'll have hummingbird nests in our yard. For now, though, I want to plant some coral honeysuckle. And get some better daylight pics of the birds in action.
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