Happy Hummingbird Day

Yesterday my Facebook friends informed me that it was: (1) National Hummingbird Day; and (2) National Fight Procrastination Day. Good timing for the second, because without even knowing about NFPD I had finally gotten down to work on a project I’ve put off for months. But bad timing for me that it was National Hummingbird Day, because I had to put off writing this post honoring hummingbirds. So, please excuse that I’m a day late to show you some of my favorite original photos of my favorite birds.

Hummingbird mother on nest

This is one of my most treasured photos. George noticed a hummingbird darting into the tree in front of our house, and patiently waited until she trusted him enough to return to her nest. With a long enough lens I didn’t have to get too close to her for this shot. Her two eggs hatched and the babies thrived and flew away. You can see a photo of them on the “Birds” section of my website.

Hummingbird at Flax Flower

Another shot I’m really proud of. This hummingbird kept visiting the flax flowers in our friend Joan’s garden, until his beak was totally covered with pollen.

Hummingbird hovering

Along with the flowers and bushes George plants in our garden for the hummers and other birds, we also have feeders so they can quickly get strength from the sugar-water to keep foraging. I can sit for hours watching them dart in and away from the feeders, and once in awhile they reward my patience by hovering there long enough for me to get a photograph.

Hummingbird at buddleia

They also love the buddleia (butterfly bush) that George planted for the bees and butterflies.

Hummingbird on branch

This little fellow kept returning to a branch near where I sit in the backyard. I crept closer until I got this shot of him with his feathers fluffed out.

Hummingbird in flight

And here’s one as he zoooomed past me!

I have many more photos of hummingbirds on my website. I also have a wide range of prints, cards and other products that I make from my hummingbird photos, which you can see on my Artfire and Etsy stores, or that are made and sold through my Zazzle gallery.

Hummingbird wingspread

Finally, when the stars align, and when the light and angle is just right, I catch the bright scarlet head of the male Anna’s hummingbird in all its glory!

How did you celebrate National Hummingbird Day? Did you cross anything off your “to-do” list for National Fight Procrastination Day?

It’s All in the Tail

With a stunning clear day, a lot of luck, and some patience I caught my first favorite photograph of 2013.

Anna's HummingbirdThis male Anna’s Hummingbird hovered in the sky, checking me out before darting to one of the feeders that George constantly replenishes. I’ve never gotten such a clear shot of a hummer’s spread tail feathers.

Anna's HummingbirdMale Anna’s use their spread tail feathers to intimidate rivals or threats. They also use the feathers during an amazing courtship display. Have you ever seen a hummingbird fly high up in the air and then dive quickly down? If you heard a “chirp” during the dive, it wasn’t a vocalization. Two UC Berkeley students discovered in 2008 that the sound is caused by the bird flaring its tail feathers near the bottom of the dive. According to their research: “At the bottom of the dive, the bird flares its tail for 60 milliseconds. The inner vanes of the bird’s two outer tail feathers vibrate in the 50 mph airstream to produce a brief chirp.”

And so – a cherished moment and my first favorite photo of the year!

Hummingbirds in the trees

Growing up back east I don’t recall ever seeing a hummingbird. I’m amazed that to see these flying treasures now, all I have to do is go out to our garden or up on our deck. This female Anna’s hummingbird was perched on a tree in our yard.

Hummingbird on branch

As part of making our garden into a wildlife habitat through the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), we provide food, water and cover for local and migrating animals. George’s garden includes many flowers for nectar, and he is always replenishing the sugar-water feeders for the hummingbirds.  He also avoids using pesticides, because that could harm or kill the birds.  Here’s an article by NWF about feeding hummingbirds.  The sugar-water is a supplement to their diet of insects and nectar.  This article goes into more detail, and has good advice about the important issue of keeping your feeders clean.

This is a male Anna’s – the brilliant color of his head and neck shines with iridescence when it catches the light.

Anna's hummingbird on branch

This is another male Anna’s.  You see how different the color of his feathers appears, this hummer shines with a more magenta hue.

Anna's hummingbird

Hummingbirds are among the limited species of birds that can hover.

Hummingbird hovering

When awake, they are almost constantly in motion. I had to quickly shoot the photos of them perching on the tree, because they don’t land for long. Here’s a shot of two of them, one about to land on a branch, and another zooming by above.

I caught a shot of this young hummer with his beak open.

Anna's hummingbird on tree

Do you know what kinds of hummingbirds visit or live in your area? I’m lucky to have George, who has studied this extensively, to tell me who’s who.  He said that at this time of year we’re getting only the Anna’s hummingbirds, and that they stay with us year-round.  Does your garden have nectar flowers or other plants to attract and feed hummingbirds?  Do you have hummingbird feeders to supplement their diet?