Friday, June 10, 2011

Do hummingbirds ever have an obesity problem? Should I worry about these useless slackers hanging around the feeder and sucking off the dole we provide when they're obviously able-bodied beasts and should be out there earning their keep in the pursuit of nectar in the blossoms on the apple trees and wild cherries? Am I enabling their dependency and destroying their work ethic by encouraging the S.O. to keep the feeders filled? And what are we doing to the eco-system: are we going to be overrun by hummingbirds because they've got a guaranteed food supply? Are we making them more vulnerable to predation or disease by encouraging them to congregate in our yard instead of dispersing in a more natural pattern?

I do actually wonder about the effect of bird feeders on bird populations and ecosystems in general. We humans tend to feed the cute animals (or, in the case of hummingbirds, the dazzling ones -- after you've watched the vicious little bastards beating the crap out of each other for awhile, you realize there's no way they qualify as cute) while being oblivious to the potential effects of unnatural influences on the food supply. What happens to the hummingbirds if some summer we're not here to put out the feeder? How long would they hang around wondering where it was if it disappeared? I guess this is one of the benefits of being on vacation. . . having the time to contemplate hummingbird epistemology -- what do ruby-throated hummingbirds (Archilochus colubris) know, how do they know it, and do they know that they know? Are hummingbirds deep thinkers or are they the avian equivalent of Fox News viewers?

[Photo taken by the S.O. a few days ago.]


  1. You raise interesting points. I would assume there are no Republican bird feeders?
    We are supposed to encourage nature and natural. However just let a bad winter threaten to starve the deer population down to manageable size and all the Bambi lovers forget about nature and want hay hauled to them.

  2. And don't forget the thistle and sunflower seed lobbyists. They've convinced too many of the Medicare set to spend wildly. It's for the birds, I say.

  3. I would guess the biggest thing the bird feeders do is artificially inflate the populations because an easily accessible food source is nearby.

  4. My hummingbird question is why do they ignore my lovely and artistic cobalt blue feeder and go crazy over all the plastic ones?

  5. Do hummingbirds ever have an obesity problem?

    I don't think so, they burn up huge amounts of energy just flying around looking for food. They're known to starve to death in the process of getting to the next meal.

    What happens to the hummingbirds if some summer we're not here to put out the feeder?

    They have real tiny brains, I'm not sure they remember old haunts when they return in the spring.

    As long as you are pondering on them, how long do they live?

  6. How long do they live? I googled it, and if they make it through the first year they can live up to 8 years. They're a short-lived species.


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