It’s September – that time of year again here in southeast Texas, when the ruby-throated hummingbirds make their way through my mother’s backyard on their migration route to Central America and Mexico.
So on September 7, I helped my mother hang out 3 nectar feeders. The next day, I went over to her house with camera and flash in hand. I didn’t see a thing at any of the feeders.
Then, I heard it.
That familiar little twittering sound the little hummers make. I looked over to one of the wire tomato stands used to prop up the tomatoes Mom had planted in her plastic tubs, and there he was, his ruby throat flashing in the morning light.
Since then, I’ve counted up to about 8 birds swirling and fighting around the feeders. The males arrive first to stake out their feeding/breeding territory, so I’m thinking the females aren’t too far behind.
In the 6 days I’ve been going over there for photos, I have captured more great images of this tiny bird’s ruby flash than in any of the other years of hummingbird photography put together. And this is only the beginning of the season!
For those of you wondering what I use camera-wise:
- The longest focal length I have in a lens, which is a Canon 100-400. The longer the lens, the less you will scare away the birdies.
- A camera with a fast fps (which is my Canon 1-DX).
- I put a flash on my camera, too. Flash is the best way to really freeze the action and to get the color and detail of their jewel-like iridescent feathers.
- I set my focus to Servo. Servo tracks the movement of your subject and keeps that subject in focus.
I’ve taken pictures of these hummingbirds without using a flash, and sometimes accidentally without putting my focus on Servo. The photos generally end up totally worthless. As it is,because these little birds are so darned fast, probably 3/4 of my images are of a feeder with no bird at it because they’ve zipped away.
- 1 cup white sugar (do NOT use honey)
- 4 cups water
Boil the sugar and water together until the sugar dissolves and set aside to cool before filling your feeders. NO NEED to use red food coloring – besides, anything in there except the sugar and water is always subject to hurt the hummingbirds in some way.
To this end, make sure you change out the sugar solution and thoroughly wash your feeders every 4-5 days, as the solution can sour or ferment or get cloudy and mold spots can develop on the inside of the feeder – all of which can make the hummingbirds ill and even be fatal.
Hummingbirds remember where the good feeding spots are, so you definitely want to make sure you keep those feeders clean and full of fresh nectar solution.
I’ve created one of what will be a series of 2 hummingbird wall calendars for 2014. If you want to have something that keeps track of dates *and* is pretty to look at, then go check out my hummingbird calendar at this link.
If you would like to view *all* of the calendars I have created for 2014, please go to this link.
Or, simply go to my website www.rebeccalatsonphotography.com and select “Calendars” from the menu items.
FYI – I will soon be creating a 2014 weekly planner using this year’s batch of hummingbird photos, and I’ll also be creating a couple of photo journals with photos and blank, lined pages for writing. Keep checking back to my blog site and you will see photo icon links to these products once I have posted them for sale.