Question: I have a back yard feeder or two ,when two or more come at same time it becomes aerial combat. I've seen feeders with many ? I was thinking maybe family ??
This really is a complex question that has many answers, but I can say that it doesn't have anything to do with them being the family or not. Hummingbirds are inherently possessive of their foods, but when you see many birds at a feeder it's usually a good indication that none of them believe it belongs to them self. These videos we see of many birds at one feeder are oftentimes, or nearly always during the northern or southern migrations. Birds will stop in for a feed or stick around for a short time, and then move on to their breeding grounds. There's also another factor to consider - when the numbers increase dramatically, it's difficult to fight off several birds. When you watch these videos with numerous birds, notice their intense squeaking. They're still angry, but have far too many birds to battle. They do settle into a mode where they just have to accept all the others feeding, because it would be an un-winnable battle. In a case where two of them are squabbling over 1 feeder in your garden, it's nearly always due to territory. The Males refuse to share territory in their breeding grounds. They will fight to the death to defend their garden, food sources, and the females that they will breed with. I want to give you a brief story to explain something. Last summer I had numerous Males that kept showing up at our feeders, but would frequently be chased off by the dominant one. Then one male showed up on the feeder, and within seconds another one showed up on that same feeder. Neither one chose to battle the other male, because both of them knew they were invading the feeder of the dominant male who hadn't yet spotted them. They were both content to feed, because they both knew they were getting a free pass until the dominant one would spot them. Both of these Males knew that the other was not the one in charge, and both knew the other was not a threat, and this is a similar situation to when they are migrating. They start to think that THEY are invading another bird's feeder, so THEY don't do the chasing, but are merely trying to get in a quick feed without being chased off. Just remember during the season, outside of the migrations, it's primarily about territory and breeding, and that is when their most intense battles occur. When a hummingbird remains in a territory, unchallenged for length of time, they begin to assume the rights to that food source.