Bejeweled beauty

I mentioned yesterday that we’ve seen our first ruby-throated hummingbirds (Archilochus colubris) and also that I’d had no chance to photograph them yet. That thought stuck with me and I made sure that I spent some time with them throughout the day.

Ruby-throat 8221By standing still, leaning against a tree, approximately equidistant from the feeder and their favorite perch, I was able to gain their confidence so that they seemed to ignore me.

Ruby-throat 8218I’ve noticed a number of times, through the years, that the brilliant, luminescent crimson that is the hallmark of the males is not always visible, and they seem to be able to turn it

Ruby-throat 8334on and off at will, as it were, according to how they ruffle and/or angle their tiny throat feathers.  In fact, it’s usually not visible at all.

Ruby-throat 8348Ruby-throat 8269As I was watching their antics, suddenly I saw something that I’ve never seen before.  One (I’m not sure whether it was a male or a female) was perched on the feeder and another zoomed in suddenly and, for around 10 or 15 seconds, flew back and forth in a rapid sideways pattern in an arc about three feet wide, maintaining a distance of about 18 inches from the feeder. As it did so, the feathers on its throat reflected the most amazing yellow-gold color, like the brightest, most saturated mature dandelion imaginable, and I was hoping it would land so that I could get a better look at it. I thought It might be a different species, but as the day progressed and I returned several more times, I caught brief flashes of yellow from one of the male ruby-throats when the light caught it just right.

Ruby-throat 8145I tried to catch shots of the yellow flashes as the afternoon progressed, and I was rewarded with several images, including one in which both the red and the yellow are clearly visible.

Ruby-throat 8135 We have to leave to return to Omaha today, but I plan to keep a keen eye (and a keen lens) on these tiny wonders throughout the season.

Ruby-throat 8343I can’t wait for my next opportunity!

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About krikitarts

Welcome to Krikit Arts! I'm a veterinarian; photographer; finger-style guitarist, composer, instructor, and singer/songwriter; fisherman; and fly-tyer. Please enjoy--and please respect my full rights to all photos on this Website!
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22 Responses to Bejeweled beauty

  1. David says:

    Gorgeous photos of a bird that I hope to see this year. You might be interested in my hummingbird experience earlier this year: http://incidentalnaturalist.com/2015/04/01/san-francisco-hummingbirds-in-the-city/

    Love the blog!

  2. Fantastic shots!! Not many people are lucky enough or skilled enough to capture these lightning quick birds :).

  3. Winnie Hurd says:

    Thank you for these! I love these tiny birds but only get 1 or 2 each year at my feeder. I think it’s because there are few trees in the vicinity…

    • krikitarts says:

      What kind of solution are you using to attract them? The base our feeder is red with yellow feeder flowers, and we mix 1/2 cup of sugar with 2 cups of water. They love it!

      • Winnie Hurd says:

        Same solution, similar feeder. I change it weekly and clean the feeder well. I’ve noticed that feeders on or near wooded lots attract more hummingbirds, and I attract more when the rose of sharon blooms. Sadly, there are no medium-sized trees within 1/2 block of my feeder.

  4. Fantastic shots. Love the last one especially

  5. It’s always enjoyable and rewarding to discover something new and even better when a picture is there for the making as well, Gary. They are quite a challenge. Nice work.

    • krikitarts says:

      Thanks for the compliment, Steve. I do really enjoy the challenge of working with these wee folk, when I have the time. It takes a whole heap of patience and more than a little luck.

  6. Adrian Lewis says:

    Oh wow, what a bird!!!!!! And I like the top two pictures especially, and especially the second one down. Re keeping still, I seem to recall from birding times years ago that birds cease to perceive us if we keep motionless for awhile, and I’ve done this many times when coming into unexpectedly close contact with individuals – I call it the “Instant Freeze”. These birds remind me of the sunbirds in Kenya, tho I have a feeling that they are a little larger and less delicate, and of course they don’t hover etc. Good stuff, Gary! Adrian :)

    • krikitarts says:

      I’m sure that many of us in this wonderful society of ours have come to appreciate the inestimable value of the instant freeze, and have incorporated it into our bag(s) of tricks. It has served me well on many an occasion. I thought you’d like these, and I’m happy to see that I was right!

  7. Vicki says:

    Fabulous photos, Gary.
    You’ve captured so much detail in their feathers.
    Patience is the key, although luck sometimes helps too.

  8. krikitarts says:

    Especially when we get the chance to study them up close. Too often all we see are brief flashes of green and–if we’re lucky–a little bit of red.

  9. laura lecce says:

    I came across this post and just adore it. You must have such patience to get these photos! They look so agitated in some of them, it’s really cute.

  10. krikitarts says:

    It does take some patience–and some considerable luck. I have a little portable camouflaged blind just big enough for one person to sit down in, and I hope to give that a try a little later in the year. It should be considerably more comfortable than leaning against a tree and supporting my slr with the telephoto at the ready.

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