Archilochus colubris

| 30 Comments

Photograph by Darren Garrison.

Photography contest: “Animal” category.

Garrison.hummingbird_killing_yellowjacket.jpg

Archilochus colubris – ruby-throated hummingbird killing yellowjacket (Vespula squamosa). Hummingbird is territorial and attacks yellowjacket invading bird feeder. South Carolina.

30 Comments

Wow.

Great picture.

I have a hummingbird feeder in my back yard, and since the area is a little too big and exposed for one bird to truly control, I get to witness to the endless territorial jousting that goes on between these tiny birds.

Very nice photo! We sometimes see hummingbirds in our neighbor’s flowers and they are always fun to watch.

Another good reason to appreciate hummingbirds!

(From someone recently stung in my own backyard by one of those little territorial yellow and black bastards):)

Did it eat the wasp?

I don’t care what other photos come up; I’m voting for this one.

One can only wish for a faster shutter.

Wonderful image. Great reaction time, too.

Archilochus? Sounds like “bigus dickus” if you speak German.

The bird probably just got peeved when the insect criticized it for not knowing the words. (That’s why they hum.) :D

Crudely Wrott:

“One can only wish for a faster shutter.”

That shot was at 1/1000th of a second (which is the limit of my camera.” Taken with manual focus preset for the rough distance of the feeder, f/8, flash on.

Darren Garrison said:

Crudely Wrott:

“One can only wish for a faster shutter.”

That shot was at 1/1000th of a second (which is the limit of my camera.” Taken with manual focus preset for the rough distance of the feeder, f/8, flash on.

But the photographer had to anticipate with enough precision to capture this perfect instant with the right illumination and contrast.

As someone who has done a fair amount of nature photography, I salute you.

I wonder if the shutter speed was less than 1/1000…flash syncs are usually no higher than 1/250 regardless of the shutter setting.

Whatever, it’s an awesome photo.

Definitely going to vote for this!

Funny - That’s exactly what I said, out loud, when I saw it as well.

I’ve got a question, though, as a non-biologist. I’ve seen hummingbirds fight other hummingbirds over territory, but never an insect. Do yellowjackets compete with hummingbirds for flower nectar? If not, then how do the hummingbirds know that the yellowjackets are competition for the feeder? Are the hummingbirds really observant enough to realize that the yellowjackets are stealing their sugar water? Because, you know, they are “birdbrains” after all.

By the way, I really hate yellowjackets. I’ve had at least 3 episodes of multiple stings plus a few singles; a total of probably a dozen and a half stings. And once, one actually bit me in the armpit (not a sting, the sucker tried to eat me!).

An incredible photo. Nice job.

Julial said:

Wow.

Amazing shot. Absolutely amazing.

GvlGeologist, FCD said: I’ve seen hummingbirds fight other hummingbirds over territory, but never an insect.

I have seen hummingbirds chase Skipper butterflies (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skipper_(butterfly) - they are known for their quick, darting flight) who intruded into “their” territory. I have also seen Skippers chase hummingbirds and other birds who intruded into their territory. A backyard with birdfeeders and flowers can be a very busy place.

Paul Burnett said:

GvlGeologist, FCD said: I’ve seen hummingbirds fight other hummingbirds over territory, but never an insect.

I have seen hummingbirds chase Skipper butterflies (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skipper_(butterfly) - they are known for their quick, darting flight) who intruded into “their” territory. I have also seen Skippers chase hummingbirds and other birds who intruded into their territory. A backyard with birdfeeders and flowers can be a very busy place.

We attract (female) hummingbirds with our cotton trees, in that, when the cotton bolls mature, the females visit them, pulling out fibers to line their nests with.

When we still had a tall fir tree, it would always be covered in cobwebs, which the female hummingbirds would visit, and take to line their nests with. I think they prefer the cotton fibers, as I never see them taking cobwebs anymore.

I spent many days in the Galapagos Islands this year trying to get the perfect shot of a blue footed booby diving (and failed). First of all, you have to get close enough, then you have to have the zoom and focus right, and then you have to remember to press the shutter button. I can’t even imagine how this shot was achieved.

invadting?

spellcheck?

Awesome picture!!!!!!!!

That is an AWESOME picture!!

invadting?

Can’t even blame my voice-recognition system. Fixed, at any rate.

This entry of the Panda’s Thumb has was listed at Fark.com resulting in at least 11,009 clicks.

I had a pet hummingbird exactly like this one a few years ago, I named her Archi. This brings back memories.

Ruby-throated Hummers in my yard seem usually be driven away by the yellow jackets. One of my feeders is easy for the insects to get into and hang out, blocking the opening to the birds. When the birds hover, the yellow jackets chase them. I finally had to kill the insect–I didn’t like to do it, I was able to cut it’s wings with a pair of scissors while it was gorging itself at the opening. Well maybe it didn’t die, but it crawled away on the ground and wasn’t seen again. Now my hummers are eating a lot–fighting off the ants at the feeder and spend a lot more time resting instead of flying off right away. I expect they are fattening up for spring. Makes for great viewing as my daughter and I spent time watching one preen outside our window. She looked fatter, or at least fluffier.

I am amazed that no one has made a “birds and the bees” comment.

Of course, this should prove that bees are toast when they mess with the birds sweet nectar!

That’s not a bee. But that is one territorial bada$$ hummingbird, and an excellent shot to boot :-)

I’ve seen them eating gnats in the morning, but I had no idea they would kill yellowjackets.

Bees can and do kill hummingbirds so sometimes its not just a territorial thing. We’ve had to chase praying mantis’ off of the feeders also, they prey upon hummers too. We’ve hung feeders for decades and have quite a community built up. Today we witnessed something we never had before, a male ruby throated sitting on the back of a female and repeatedly stabbing her in the back of the neck and ripping feathers out. She was a bloody mess. We quickly went out there when we saw what was happening and the male reluctantly flew off. The bloody female didn’t move until we were right at her. She then flew off…very erratically and low to the ground. I doubt she made it. A first (and hopefully the last) for us.

Darren,

We might be interested in publishing your hummingbird photograph in Living Bird if it’s available in a higher-res version.

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This page contains a single entry by Matt Young published on August 29, 2009 12:00 PM.

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