Stalking Hummingbirds

Last summer, I took numerous photos of hummingbirds, mostly from — of all places — my bathroom window. I had a feeder on the dining room windows, but one particular bird liked to hang out in the branches of a dying tree nearby. Hummingbirds are very territorial. This perch provided the perfect lookout; if another bird came to drink at the feeder, the bird in the tree would swoop down to protect her sugar-water.

The tree will be gone soon, so I didn’t put the feeders on the dining room window this year. Instead, they are on windows on the opposite side of the house, on the front porch. I can see them from inside and there is enough of a reflection that the skittish birds can’t see or be spooked by humans inside the house. I also have a bench on the porch which is far enough away from the feeders that the birds don’t seem to mind someone sitting there, as long as they don’t make large or quick movements.

I set up the tripod today hoping to get a decent photograph. I purchased a wireless shutter release several months ago so I dug that out of the camera bag. Not having used it for six months, I had to sync the release and the remote. That took me several minutes — and a google search — to figure out what the problem was. Sometimes it helps, I guess, to keep the instruction booklet. Once I had that figured out and had taken a few setup shots, all I had to do was wait.

The wait didn’t take long — those birds are hungry. I read once that a male hummingbird can consume up to 5000 calories a day. How do they stay so little with all those calories? If I had thought about that before I shot several frames I would have realized: those little guys move a lot. And they are really quick!

I ended up with about 140 shots, but only captured the birds entirely in the frame in about a dozen shots. The sound of the shutter scared them off. Maybe they will get used to it and I can get some better shots in the future — ones that can capture the beauty of their wings moving and be exposed properly. What is it they say? Practice makes perfect? I have a long way to go!

12 responses to “Stalking Hummingbirds

  1. These are amazing pictures. Setting up a tripod and a remote shutter release… you’re quite an expert, Anne. And… 5,000 calories a day? from what? It must be good exercise to flap the wings. hmm… I’m just trying to think of a human equivalent to burn all those calories. 😉

    • I saw one yesterday that move continually from one branch to another about 2 feet away. Back and forth he went for about 5 minutes, touching one branch, then moving to the next. Finally, he stopped. But he didn’t rest. He took off after another hummingbird. No wonder they can burn so many calories.

  2. Lovely pictures. It must be great to watch such beautiful creatures.

    • I’m amazed that I never noticed them before last summer when I was given a hummingbird feeder. Now, I know how to spot them in the trees. It is difficult to see them as they can look a lot like a leaf.

  3. Oh, those are lovely! How amazing to have humming birds in your garden – we have to make do with sparrows and pigeons and the very occasional robin.

    • We have lots of robin, some pigeons and an occasional sparrow. Hummingbirds like lots of shrubs so that they can hide and are attracted by bright colors for feeding. I’m not sure though if they even live in England. If they do, all you need to do is put out a feeder with 1:4 ratio of sugar to water and they will find it!

  4. Love these little “hummers”. Great story. Nice images to augment the story.

  5. beautiful shots (from one hummingbird stalker to another 🙂 )

  6. Great job! Just beautiful, Anne!