We’re up to somewhere between a dozen and 15 hummingbirds at the feeders now. I’m not sure whether our resident hummers are still here, but the rest are certainly in migration from up north and are gathering energy for their trip farther south and soon thereafter across the Gulf of Mexico. The birds are starting to share the feeders more and more, mostly because there are so many hummers now that individuals don’t really have a chance to defend their territory.
I know I have taken (and shared) lots of hummingbird pictures in the past, but it’s hard not to — the birds beckon me with their spirited antics, and I enjoy sitting out there absorbing their happy, frenzied presence. But if I find myself outside without my camera, I long for it, so mostly I just bring it along and try to get a great shot. Then, of course, I feel obligated to share.
Most of the time I use my zoom lens with hummingbirds, because it enables me to get shots like this lucky tongue image.
I also can capture pollen on a hummingbird’s bill. If you ever wondered whether a hummingbird is an effective pollinator, there’s proof.
With the zoom, I can also get close enough to get feather details on the little birds and yet not disturb them.
The downside to the zoom is that it gets tougher to capture the interaction between birds (when they really get their speed going). But it’s doable.
Today, however, brought a most enjoyable experience, all thanks to an annoying tilt of the shepherd’s hook holding two of our feeders. I couldn’t resist trying to fix it during a momentary lull in hummingbird activity. I had scarcely put my hand on the shepherd’s hook when suddenly I was surrounded by fast-moving, buzzing hummingbirds. There I was, inches from two feeders, and birds were swarming me. At first they circled me, periodically hovering in front of my face to see whether I was friend or foe, and since I didn’t move a muscle (other than to softly talk to them), they decided I was friend, or at least safe enough. Just inches from my face, they sat, drank, hovered, checked me out, drank some more, and even had their usual feisty spats. The breeze from their wings felt great upon my skin, and it was impressive how much air movement there was.
During another lull of activity, I quickly went inside to grab a regular lens, hoping to get a picture (the zoom wouldn’t have worked that close to my subjects). But I soon learned that while the hummingbirds did not mind me, they were less fond of my camera. Perhaps the lens looked like a large gaping mouth. Whichever feeder my face was near, the birds sat and drank without concern. Whichever feeder my camera faced, the birds were hesitant to linger at the feeder, and only a couple did fly-by drinking. Needless to say, it was a challenge to actually take a picture with a hummingbird in it, but I managed a couple. The above is my favorite.
Of course, once I realized how unperturbed the hummingbirds were by my presence, I encouraged my family to experience the thrill of being so close to the zooming birds. I can report that the hummingbirds did not mind Nolan’s small point-and-shoot camera. I think the “big lens = big mouth” theory might be close to the truth.
If you have visiting hummingbirds, especially in large numbers, I highly recommend you give it a try. Perhaps you’ll get to experience those lovely hummingbird breezes on your skin, too.