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May 10, 2014 / Rae Spencer

Hummingbirds and a Honeysuckle Thief

Hummingbird May 4

At last! Hummingbirds!

Hummingbird May 4

Not a lot of hummingbirds, yet, but enough to attempt a few photos as they feed in the honeysuckle.

Yard May 3

The honeysuckle has bloomed in such profusion that I’ve been blissfully planning a long, bright summer filled with never-ending streams of hummingbirds. I should know better, by now, than to make such plans. The yard is not a blank page, waiting for me to write its future. There are always surprises, always factors I cannot control.

Honeysuckle May 10

About three days ago, the honeysuckle’s flowers began falling, sometimes before they opened. Many of the blooms appeared to have been cut at the base.

The weather has not been stormy enough to account for such damage, and I can’t find any caterpillars to blame. So I started checking periodically, watching from the kitchen window in hopes of solving the mystery. Yesterday, I caught the thief in action.

Finch May 9 3s

This little house finch was not alone. His mate was with him, and a very hungry fledgling.

Unlike hummingbirds, house finches’ beaks are not designed for sipping nectar. So they nipped off the blooms, drank the nectar from the broken end, and left a pile of empty flowers on the ground beneath them.

Honeysuckle May 10

The house finches have not returned today. Why should they? There’s nothing left to tempt them. But I suspect they’ll remember their feast, when the next wave of honeysuckle grows heavy with nectar…

Finch May 9

 

4 Comments

  1. jeanryan1 / May 11 2014 8:12 AM

    I’ve watched them tackle my flowering plum flowers in the same way. Those blossoms were popular this spring, among several types of birds.

  2. timelesslady / May 12 2014 12:37 PM

    I didn’t know finches went after nectar…interesting, but not good for the hummingbirds or the bush. 🙂

    • Rae Spencer / May 12 2014 6:39 PM

      I was really surprised when I realized the finches were breaking off the blooms to get at the nectar. I’ve seen them drink from the pear tree’s flowers, but the pear nectar is easily within their reach. This honeysuckle activity (and flowering plum, in the comment above) seems like fairly sophisticated problem solving, to me, and I wonder how common the behavior is among finches…

  3. bardessdmdenton / Aug 8 2014 2:44 PM

    Oh, those little house-finch robbers! 🙂 “The yard is not a blank page, waiting for me to write its future. There are always surprises, always factors I cannot control.” Oh, yes. But what a reminder to let go and let … XO

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