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Re: Cardinal/Hummer alternative hypothesis

Paul Champlin <skua99@hotmail.com> wrote:
> Hi Folks,
reply to capito@hotmail.com

Not much going on bird-wise in Aiken County, SC (a solitary sandpiper on the 
Savannah River on Sat. w/bank and rough-winged swallows)...  So I figured 
I'd chime in on this one.

I have often heard of male cardinals attacking anything red in defense of 
territories. They are most famous for attacking reflections in mirrors and 
windows, but have been known to attack red cars, signposts, mailboxes and 
even people wearing red. I have seen red-winged blackbirds do the same and 
we have even taken to avoiding the application of red color bands to 
red-cockaded woodpeckers due to the potential for that small bit of red 
causing disturbance during the breeding season. So here's my...

Alternate hypothesis: The adult male northern cardinal, encountering a 
bright red object during the breeding season, attacked (the hummers gorget) 
in defense of his territory.

The fact that the bird carried off the hummer may point in another 
direction, but the above has pretty good potential.

Along the lines of alternate foraging theory I remember a fish-provisioning 
study of belted kingfishers in western Massachusetts. The researcher put out 
tubs of minnows in hopes that the kingfishers would have an easier time 
getting food for the chicks. Well the kingfishers didnít have a chance. 
American robins, red-winged blackbirds and common grackles, perching on the 
tubs rim, ate the 50+ fish before half of a day went by. there were only 10 
or so fishing birds.


Paul Champlin
New Ellenton, SC

And it is also possible that an attack on color could become a nascent predatory behavior.  Many ritualized behaviors are modified from other more practical behaviors.  I see no evolutionary block against going the other way and turning a ritual into a practical behavior.

Jim Sutton