Photographing a Hummingbird

When ducks and hawks are not flying overhead and I continue to work on my ability to photograph birds in flight, I find hummingbirds the next best challenge! I have no interest in photographing a hummingbird at a feeder. I love snapping a photo as a bird flies to a branch or feeder, beating its wings so fast, producing the humming noise, thus their name: hummingbird!

These are the smallest migrating birds, weighing less than a nickel, can fly backwards and keep me on my toes while trying to photograph them! With anticipation, patience and the ability to move as the bird moves around too, I have had the chance to photograph a couple of different hummingbirds. I have read about blinds set up, specifically to entice a bird to a spot, and then others can photograph it. I find it more fun to capture a photo while a hummingbird is in at the flower or tree of their choice. Native plants in a garden with tubular species of flowers, such as honeysuckle, are places to watch for and photograph these birds.

The next challenge is knowing what hummingbird it is! A good photograph helps me narrow down the possibilities, but there are times a photo is of little help. If I can capture their wings not beating and blurred in the photo, then it has been a successful photo attempt for me! If I can identify the bird, that may even be more amazing, but not as important!

Here are some hummingbirds I have photographed lately. Some are identified to the best of my ability. If you think I have identified it wrong, please let me know. Thanks for your help!

Violet-crowned hummingbird
Broad-billed hummingbird
Anna’s, or is it a Costa’s, hummingbird?
Could it be an Anna’s hummingbird?
I heard the bird and discovered it was overhead … took the photo anyway … all fun!

Birds New to Me!

My goal has been to improve my photography skills on birds in flight, yet I was distracted on my latest birding adventure by the number of birds new to me. First some birds in flight:

At first I knew I was looking at a different woodpecker and that it was not my favorite acorn woodpecker. So I took a photo and finally identified it as an Arizona woodpecker.

Then I saw yellow colored birds and wanted to see what they were. I have goldfinches at my home feeder, but one was a lesser goldfinch and the other a hepatic tanager.

The next 2 birds were new to me. I thought they had the strangest head shape when I first noticed them, so immediately researched them for identification: black-headed grosbeaks.

Wow, then I really saw some beautiful colors! Both of these birds, new to me, are now on my life list: Lazuli bunting, with the light blue color, and the Varied bunting, with multiple colors.

My early morning trip to Madera Canyon was well worth the effort. I still have to work on my photos of birds in flight, especially as the hummingbird wings need a 1/4000 second shutter speed for me to really capture their action and be in focus. But to discover these other birds was great fun too. Well worth my hours at the canyon!

Bird Photography Takes Work!

Taking time off the tennis and pickleball courts to learn about birds and photography has been my escape during the pandemic. It allows me to be outdoors, easily physically distanced from others, and on my own timeline. During the hot summer southwest USA days, one needs to be up with the birds to capture them in the trees or on bushes. Those locations are most natural for a photo.

I do not have hummingbird feeders at my home so I decided to go where I know there are some feeders. My challenge has been to capture a photo of a bird flying toward or away from a feeder AND to have a sharp image! Ah yes, therein lies the real challenge that I must continue to work on!

But when one sees 3 different hummingbirds in one day with one being a new bird for my life list, I do not care if it is not the sharpest photo in town!

Two hummingbirds: rufous on left and magnificent (rivoli’s) on right.
Female rufous hummingbird for my life list!

Obviously I need to work on this project some more. Feeders are nice to have but my goal still remains to capture each bird in flight. I was watching a couple of broad-billed hummingbirds flitting around a bush also and was so excited when one landed for a moment. Whew! a photo in focus!

Broad-billed hummingbird.