What We Can Learn From the Love Life of Birds

TIME

On Valentine’s Day, our thoughts inevitably turn to the birds and the bees. And as someone who studies birds, I can tell you our feathered friends have much to teach us about courtship and sanity.

Take hummingbirds, for example: If you know anything about them, you might think it would be a pretty cool existence.

Hummingbirds are the only birds that can fly backwards. They’re the fighter jets of the bird world. But have you ever watched hummingbirds fight with each other? They’re vicious.

At my home in Oregon, my backyard is visited by Rufous Hummingbirds during the summer, and I have to put out three different feeders so that three male hummers can stake out territory around the yard. They won’t tolerate each other at all.

Why are hummingbirds so mean? Only the greediest survive.

If hummingbirds were any smaller, they couldn’t physically eat enough to stay warm. Sharing…

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