You can't discuss animals who are way more badass than you'd expect without a mention of Hummingbirds. (The title of this post is inspired by a recent discussion on this very topic at Fark.com. If you get the reference, you are awesome.)
Now, to normal people like your mom and my mom, the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird is a beautiful jewel in flight. A sparkling Fairylike apparition of the garden. A bird that thinks it's a bug. How cunnin'.
To you and I, however, this shiny little Beebalm-enjoying pixie is better summed up thusly: a dart that can aim itself.
Really, this should be obvious. We're talking about a hand-held dinosaur who lives on a diet of straight-up sugar-water. They are a tad bit high-strung. Hummingbirds ain't nothin' to eff with. I remember being seven years old-ish and opening the latest issue of Ranger Rick only to be confronted by "Teenie Meanies", a kid-friendly article about the territorial ferocity of our friend, Archilochus colubris. In first-person, our Trochillid narrator basically asked, in so many questions, "Let's shrink a human to three grams and see how well they do!" (Ah, Ranger Rick. I shall have to tribute you someday if I can dig up an old issue or two.)
The above watercolor sketch depicts a scene that lasted about a half second. I had a rather unusual number of hummingbirds visiting my feeders this summer; three regulars and maybe five altogether. There were many fights. The toughest one was a big (for a hummingbird) female. Later on, she met her match when a smaller but bolder male arrived.
I was, all told, anxious while refilling the feeders.
Depending on where you live, there may still be hummingbirds flying through the area, so keep those feeders full. I did a experiment this summer, and it turns out that homebrew sugar water (bring three and a half cups of water to a boil, dissolve one cup of pure cane sugar in it, cool, refrigerate) is a hell of a lot more popular than the garish red commercial mixes.
Unrelated, but I laughed harder than I should have at this:
Meanwhile, California is getting the really awesome convention. Is there anything like this on the East Coast and, oh, NOT on the weekend before a major travel holiday?
A-a-a-a-n-d since everyone else is talking about it, have you visited "Covered" yet?