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Do female hummingbirds sing also?

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Old Tuesday 31st August 2004, 22:49   #1
MBP
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Do female hummingbirds sing also?

Now that we have put up a feeder additionally to the plants, an immature male Anna's Hummingbird has mainly taken over the balcony and attacks any other hummingbirds who try to drink from the feeder and often sits on a tree nearby and sings (or rather rasps). At least this was what I thought first. I could identify it quite easily because there are already some dark/red spots on his had additional to the red on the throat. But sunday evening I could not find the red or dark spots on the head of a hummingbird sitting on another tree and "rasping", there was a red spot on the throat, but the head above looked green, like from a female. So I am curious if this in fact might have been a female? Do they sing also? And do they show the same territorial behaviour like males? Somehow they have to secure their food sources too, don't they?
Greetings to all hummingbird lovers, Marcella
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Old Wednesday 1st September 2004, 02:58   #2
Katy Penland
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Hi, Marcella,

We have four species of hummers that frequent our summer feeders (black-chinned, rufous, broad-tailed and calliope), and the only time I've heard any of them vocalizing (male or female) is when defending their nesting or feeding territories.

Female rufous are extremely vocal about their feeders, yet the male rufous seem to be more vocally defensive of the nesting tree. Both sexes, however, are extremely physical in defending both, knocking other hummers off the feeders, colliding with them in mid-air and chasing them clear out of the yard. Both sexes also perch nearby the feeders and their tree and continue their little snappy, raspy calls. I always assumed it was warning others off. Considering what a bad mood rufous ("ruthless" to me!) always seem to be in, I just thought they were snarking to themselves in high dudgeon!

I've only seen male black-chinned and male rufous do their respective aerial courtship displays, during which the only sound is a wing whirrrrrrrrrr, probably caused by the centrifugal force at the bottom of the "U" or "J". Or perhaps that *is* vocal, caused by air forced from their lungs from the same force. I don't know. I'm sure some real hummer experts will come along who can answer your questions about Anna's. Couldn't you just watch them for hours and hours?
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Old Wednesday 1st September 2004, 03:57   #3
samuel walker
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I have heard little high chips or chirps from both M&F rubythroats
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Old Sunday 5th September 2004, 02:35   #4
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Hi, Marcella and all. Female hummingbirds of some species apparently do sing, but I don't think that's the explanation for what you're seeing and hearing. Male Anna's are pretty slow to mature physically, but their hormones start telling them to sing well before their gorget and crown color comes in. Female Anna's don't tend to be as territorial as males, especially during the breeding season (when they have more important things to do), and they use calls and body language rather than songs to communicate with rivals. Most likely you have a second young male who's not as far along in molt as the first.

For the uninitiated, hummingbirds are generally quite noisy, but most of their vocal sounds fall into the category of calls rather than songs, which are specifically used in territorial and/or courtship contexts.

Sheri Williamson
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Old Sunday 5th September 2004, 02:43   #5
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Hi Sheri! Thanks for this information and on behalf of the staff here at Bird Forum, a warm welcome to you.
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Old Sunday 5th September 2004, 14:35   #6
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Hi Sheri,

Sheri is being shy :) She is the author of two books on hummingbirds :) Cheers,bob

http://tzunun.home.mindspring.com/index.htm
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Old Sunday 5th September 2004, 17:01   #7
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Welcome Sheri ! nice to have you aboard here
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Old Sunday 5th September 2004, 17:08   #8
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Welcome to BirdForum, Sheri!

I *thought* her name sounded familiar!




Quote:
Originally Posted by bobky
Hi Sheri,

Sheri is being shy :) She is the author of two books on hummingbirds :) Cheers,bob

http://tzunun.home.mindspring.com/index.htm
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Old Wednesday 8th September 2004, 16:59   #9
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Hi Sheri and others,

Thanks so much for all your replies. Currently there is only the immature (molting) male visiting our balcony and agressively defending it against all hummers, chasing them away and proclaiming "his property" by intense "rasping" on the trees nearby. It is absolutly cute, seeing this little bird looking so self-confident around as if everything was made only for him. Well, it is not so far from truth...
The only thing I wonder is how are females able to get enough food if all the good sources are defended so vigorously by males? Before we set up the feeder, we only had some plants providing food and were visited regularly by a female for breakfast (the one on the pictures in my gallery), but after we provided additionally the feeder, a mature and the immature male showed up and finally the immature chased away all other hummingbirds. That is one reason for the question, I was hoping that maybe the female was back. Can I hope that she still sweeps by from time to time and secretly nibbles at the nectar, or have we lost her by setting up the feeder? I still think the plants are much nicer and more natural and they also provide insects (biological pest control by hummingbirds ;-)), but of course with the feeder it is much easier to observe the hummingbirds; they stay longer and come more frequently and it is much easier to take pictures. And since we only have one more year to watch them until we return to hummingbird-depleted Germany, we try to make the best of it!
Good birdwatching to everybody, Marcella
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