Our hummingbird season is incredibly short in the northern reaches of their territory, but within that short period of time there are so many stories to tell. There were numerous hummingbirds battling for flowers and feeders around our garden, but one feeder near us, with clusters of flowers all around, provided many smiles and giggles for the remaining two weeks of the season. Gunner, our dominant male hummingbird, was the last adult male to leave. He covered an area with two feeders until Miles solved the feeder. He was an aggressive young boy. Soon he left, and then Junior took over. He also provided much amusement. Finally, there was one who stood out in many ways from all the rest. I never like to have a hummingbird leave our place without learning the feeders first, so one really gave us a challenge. One young male was so fixated on the Salvia that he wouldn't even look at any other flower, let alone the feeders. I tried placing training feeders right near the flowers, but with no luck. He was focused on just the Salvia alone. It took time, and much of it, before he started sampling the Vermillionaire and the vining Nasturtiums. My homemade nasturtium flower just wasn't close enough for him to test out on the feeder. So I grabbed a nasturtium flower, plucked the tail end off, and inserted it into the feeder. It took a few passes, but suddenly that lone nasturtium got his attention. He stuck his bill in, tasted it, and moved to the rest. It was on his third round through the flowers that he finally realized there was something very unique about that one flower. He inserted his bill, drank, and realized this flower had more nectar than all the rest. Suddenly he was annoyed with the flower. He tried in many ways to move it out of his way so that he could reach the source in behind. He fought with that flower, and then moved on. I quickly removed the real flower from the feeder and waited for his return 15 minutes later. He poked a few of the other flowers, but quickly remembered that special one. He flew to it, notice the flower missing, but inserted his bill into the fake feeder flower. Success! He learned it and made it top priority. What gave him a special name was the fact that he didn't like bumblebees that much. It wasn't honey bees or wasps that he had issues with, it was bumblebees. Anytime and every time he would spot a bumblebee in his cluster of flowers, he made it his mission to chase that bumblebee around the yard. We knew every time a bumble bee would show up, that shortly after, the Little Bee Slayer would show him the business and escort him out. This little guy would honestly slap those bumble bees like a pinata. One bumblebee had his world rearranged when he got slapped out of the air and knocked into the plants below. He buzzed a little, gathered his bearings, and left like a missile, with no intentions of returning. But sadly, within a few days, the Bee Slayer too had moved on. Overall, it was an incredibly successful season. The number of locals, casuals and migrants filled the yard for about 5 weeks, and left me with many stories to tell. The second image, he's poking through the real Nasturtium to get to the feeder behind.
August 28, 2020. N.E. of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.