Bully Ninjas – the Tiny Rufous Hummingbird

July 31, 2014 at 7:00 am (Bird photography, Colorado, Colorado birds, Dinosaur National Monument, National Parks, Nature, Nature photography, Photography, Southwest Birds) (, )

Rufous Hummingbird male

Rufous Hummingbird male

A fellow ranger and I were discussing the constant quarreling at the hummingbird feeders by the newly arrived rufous hummingbirds.  Emily said they reminded her of the fighters in “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.”  They can fly so fast you can’t keep track of where they’ve gone.  Or they can hover in a slow motion attack.  She said she calls them “bully Ninjas” – although I think she used another adjective that was more creative.  Wish I had written it down.

Immature rufous hummers sparring

Immature rufous hummers sparring

Rufous aren’t known to breed in Colorado; they do that in the Pacific Northwest and Canada.  These guys at my feeder are early migrants to their wintering grounds in Mexico or the southeastern US.  They take a different route going south – through the Great Plains, whereas in spring they go north using the Pacific Flyway.

Immature rufous hummingbird

Immature rufous hummingbird

This is a pugnacious little dinosaur.  So much energy is expended in chasing away intruders of all species, including their own.  One might perch near a favored nectar source and immediately pursue any hummer that zeroes in.  And they squabble!  So much that I considered removing the feeders.  But Emily put up two of her own to draw them to different areas of the yard, giving everyone a chance.

Immature rufous hummer

Immature rufous hummer

I’m still waiting for the broad-tailed.  The resident black-chinned male kept chasing him away earlier this summer.  Now not even the black-chinned get to sup at “their” feeders.  The female below managed to get in a few sips before a male rufous took a run at her.

Female black-chinned

Female black-chinned

At least now that they’re hanging out by Emily’s feeder I don’t have to listen to the constant squeaky arguments.  It might not be detente, but at least it’s quiet.



Text and photographs copyrighted by Cindy McIntyre

Feel free to reblog or share

Website:  CindyMcIntyre.com

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Contact:  cindy at cindymcintyre.com


  1. Alli Farkas said,

    I have lots of hummingbirds at my feeder every summer. Can’t tell if they’re ruby-throated or rufus though, although they do seem to engage in aerial dogfights pretty much continuously. And yes, they’re pretty noisy too!

  2. Jet Eliot said,

    These photos are wonderful, Cindy. You did an excellent job of capturing the rufous and highlighting it–not easy with speeding bullets. 🙂

  3. earthstills said,

    Sooo beautiful!!!

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