The Hostile Hummer

I enjoy hummingbirds. I feed them. I watch them. Throughout the spring, summer, and into the fall, I am just fascinated by their comings and goings, their darting around and feeding, and their interactions with each other. Toward the fall, usually about the middle of September, a drastic change takes place in my hummingbirds. I have watched this for decades. They begin to feed more, it seems, and other migrating hummingbirds are in process of coming from the north headed down toward Mexico and South America. When that happens, they stop by the feeders to be refueled and to rest and be renewed. That is when the trouble begins.

My hummers are not happy with the new folks that come to the feeders. Although there is more than plenty to eat, I fill and refill the feeders to make sure all the home birds can be filled and all the visitors, too. The local hummers I’ve come to know over the months that they’ve been at my feeder have a strong sense of entitlement, and a fight is soon to break out. This year some of the smallest birds I’ve ever had, just tiny little hummingbirds about the size of your little finger, have hung around all summer long and the smallest of the whole bunch has become the chief guardian of the feeder. This tiny bird, which must weigh mere ounces, is a Tasmanian hummingbird.

The birds are fascinating to watch, but there’s a lot of squeaking and squawking and expressions of hostility and sometimes vicious attacks. When the Little General sees some of the new birds coming toward the feeder, he goes into action. It is amazing. It looks like an air battle from WWII. When he attacks and runs off whoever the other hummingbirds may be, he then perches right over the feeder — his feeder — and puts his head on a swivel. He looks back and forth and up and down, watching for another bird to come and try to get some of his nectar. You need to understand that I have told him they are my feeders, not his, and that there is plenty of food for everybody and I am glad to have the other birds come by. When I explain that to him, he simply sneers and continues his lookout for the next invaders.

There have been so many times when I have asked him why he had to be so hostile about everything. He explains to me that he is concerned about the future of the feeder and doesn’t think these fly-by-night outsiders care as much about what I’ve provided for them as he does. The other day as I was watching him carry out his bombardment on a number of visiting hummingbirds, I thought to myself that I have seen this guy…at church. With a sense of personal entitlement because he’s been there for a while or has a protective view of the church and its resources, he fails to realize that it is Jesus’ church, not his, and though he may understand that Jesus has enough provisions for everybody who may come by there and need help and hope and fueling, he disregards that because he wants to guard the church.

The fact is that the great Apostle John tells us that he ran into this guy and his name was Diotrephes (3 John). He loved the center position and controlling things and being the overseer of all things that needed to be done right and in order. Diotrephes failed to recognize that it wasn’t his church, but Jesus’ church. He thought he was the one deciding who can eat and who can’t and on and on. He filled the role of the hostile hummer. Maybe you’ve met him or at least seen him in action, and you recognize what everybody recognizes except the hostile hummer himself — how small he really seems to be. Perched at his high position, he keeps others from coming to the fountain of life, or causes them to be hurt or disengage or go somewhere else, all to the detriment of the very church that he pretends to be serving.

All of us could benefit from this hummer to remember we are a part of Jesus’ church and not one of our own making! Remember that God has provisions for us. For all who come in, there is unlimited abundance! Finally, keep in your heart that Jesus was rejected by many but He never rejected anyone. Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved (Romans 10:13).

The author can be contacted at

The author can be contacted at

Jim Futral

Executive Director-Treasurer