Reader Stephen Barnard has sent us a rufous hummingbird (Selasphorus rufus), with a note:
The most aggressive hummingbird in North America. They dominate the black-chinned and the broad-tailed.
This looks to me like a male. The Audubon site backs up Stephen’s claim about the bird’s pugnacity:
The feistiest hummingbird in North America. The brilliant orange male and the green-and-orange female Rufous Hummingbird are relentless attackers at flowers and feeders, going after (if not always defeating) even the large hummingbirds of the Southwest, which can be double their weight.
Well, “feisty” is not a term we encounter in the animal behavior literature, but I won’t carp.
Rufous Hummingbirds have the hummingbird gift for fast, darting flight and pinpoint maneuverability. They are pugnacious birds that tirelessly chase away other hummingbirds, even in places they’re only visiting on migration. Like other hummers, they eat insects as well as nectar, taking them from spider webs or catching them in midair.
This looks like a good subject for a monster movie: “The Attack of the Killer Hummingbird,” or even “Hummer!” Here’s its range, showing that they overwinter in Mexico (remember, these tiny birds, which need lots of fuel, have to migrate hundreds of miles twice a year.