The Bass Lake Bruiser

Hummingbird claims his feeder domain


GILBERT – We live near Bass Lake and we have become acquainted with what we call the Bass Lake Bruiser. He is a hummingbird that is the Intimidator of Other Hummingbirds. Every morning he comes out of his concealed nest in our cedar tree and perches on the let-down string of the hummingbird feeder.

He will perch on that string all day just as he has done for the last two summers. He will confront and drive away any hummingbird or group of hummingbirds that come to the feeder for a drink of nectar. After he has driven them away, he will take a quick sip of nectar and go back to the string to wait for his next victim.

We can tell that the Bruiser is the Bruiser because he doesn’t have a graceful neck like other hummingbirds. His head sits flat on top of his body giving him a sinister, dangerous look.

From the dining room window, I can see the back of the Bruiser about a foot away. I can see his head turn left, then right, then upward in a ritual that he repeats all day long. His long beak serves as a pointer as he surveys his surroundings. If he turns around and sees me at the window, he hovers in front of me and displays a band of bright, red feathers on the top and front of his body.

The Bruiser, weighing in at 7/10th of an ounce, is not afraid of either a 180 pound man or any hummingbird alive. He must be full of hummingbird testosterone. When another hummingbird comes to take a drink, if the Bruiser can’t get it to fly away, he’ll try to kill it.

Shirley and I have been feeding hummingbirds for over 35 years, and we haven’t seen more than moderate squabbles around the feeder—that is, until the summer of 2016.

When we talk with other people about our Bruiser, they will often tell their stories about how aggressive hummingbirds are. I’ve even heard it said that some people have to remove from under the feeder hummingbirds murdered by members of their own species.

The Bruiser acts as if he owns the house. He acts as if he pays taxes on it. All that he surveys from the feeder string is his domain. He’s greedy, controlling, and possessive. He won’t share the nectar with any other birds.

When I think about it, the Bruiser is just like a lot of greedy humans who spend their lifetimes amassing wealth, controlling other human beings, and making it tough for many ordinary people to buy groceries.

Joseph Legueri lives in Gilbert, MN.

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