The Chase


This week’s photo, taken May 4, 2016 at Richmond Beach Park in Shoreline, WA, features a male ANNA’S HUMMINGBIRD.

The photo above reminds me of the wild chase I witnessed yesterday at Richmond Beach Park. Hummingbirds will frequently and fearlessly go after other birds because they know they can outmaneuver them and avoid capture or harm. I’ve seen hummingbirds boldly pursue sparrows, robins, hawks and even eagles. They are intimidated by no other creature of the avian kind.

But yesterday, right in front of me, an ANNA’S HUMMINGBIRD was not doing the chasing; it was being chased. For probably less than one minute, but what seemed to me like a much longer period of time, a WILSON’S WARBLER, with major attitude and aggression, flew after the hummer, and the performance by both birds resembled a high speed, synchronized aerial dance. The show was spectacular to watch, and I had a front row seat.

A warbler can fly incredibly fast and change direction in an instant; nevertheless, a hummingbird can perform any flight maneuver a warbler can, and do it better and with less effort. Yet, as the two miniature acrobats rocketed up, dove down, banked left and then right, the warbler stayed within a few inches of the hummingbird. Suddenly, the hummingbird screeched to a halt and executed its signature move: hovering in mid-air, and the warbler did the same. I think that momentary pause was a signal for me to break into applause, but I was too caught up in the action to take the hint.

At one point the two tiny birds landed briefly on separate branches in a nearby tree, giving me the chance to identify the fast-moving flash of yellow as a Wilson’s Warbler. Then the chase resumed, and a few seconds later it abruptly ended when the hummingbird zoomed off in one direction, but the warbler didn’t follow. Instead, determined to leave the audience of one with a lasting memory, the warbler flew straight towards me at eye level, waiting till the last possible moment to power up and avoid crashing into my face. Yep, it was a strong finish, indeed.

Bird cards and prints (including hummingbirds and warblers):


About Joe Sweeney

I photograph birds to share the beauty and wonder I find in nature.
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4 Responses to The Chase

  1. Chris says:

    Sounds like the performance was a 10.
    Jim and I camped at Point Reyes this week, and enjoyed the birding, especially Giacomini Wetlands which had two reed-encircled ponds and several Green Herons. We do have them near home but we have not had good luck finding them in ages, so this was a treat. Also at Five Brooks pond a few miles south of there, we saw a mother Wood Duck with 13 little chicks, and eventually the drake as well.

  2. Deborah Pinkham says:

    Wow – love your birding adventures! Still waiting for hummers here in RI…it’s been chilly and windy and wet, but I hope we will see hummers and orioles soon.

  3. Connie Saunders says:

    Amazing experience! I didn’t know birds did that! Why was the warbler after the hummingbird — anyone’s guess? You’ve talked about Anna’s Hummingbird’s, so thank’s for the great view of one. It certainly is magnificent! Connie


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