Thursday, August 6, 2015

Summer is...hummingbirds!

As the squeaky-squeak chatter of hummingbird-speak rattled back and forth across the deck, a light evening breeze ruffled the pages of the book I was reading. It was a freshening breeze, but fleeting, and it reminded me to put the book down and listen to the season before it was gone…

When you can hear hummingbirds squeaking through open windows, you know it's summertime!
A young male Ruby-throated Hummingbird preens in the plum tree beside our deck. Moments before, he had been squeaking and squawking like the warrior he is, having successfully chased two other hummers away from his feeder. 

Hummingbirds fight viciously when another tries to move in on their territory. For being such cute little birds, they are fierce fighters.
King of the North Feeder and all its environs...

The sounds of hummers fighting and squabbling over nectar is synonymous with summer around our house.
Several people have emailed me asking how I captured the cool background. I had nothing to do with it. Mama Nature and timing took care of it. I photographed the bird around 6:00 p.m. on the north side of the deck. The hummer was sitting in a plum tree with beautiful maroon leaves. Behind the plum was a hornbeam tree lit by the evening sun. Its bright green sunlit leaves peaking through the dark maroon plum leaves created the splashes of color. I used a shallow depth of field to create the blurred background (bokeh), but truly Mamma Nature took care of the rest. Click here and here for a quick explanation of bokeh.  If you look at the two photos following, you can see the background has lost some of its punch. The shift of the sun killed the brightly lit green background leaves...

Juveniles and female hummingbirds look similar, but since this bird has pronounced markings on his throat, 
I think he is a male. Females are usually more white.

...little emerald pinecone feathers glitter in the sun.

With razor-sharp, stops, starts and spins, hummingbirds' aerial combat feats are amazing...and mesmerizing. It's hard to turn away from their supercharged swoops of acceleration and agility. These tiny birds have it going on, and their sounds and displays make me summertime happy, but they won't stick around for long. Adult males are the first leave. They head south about a month earlier than the females and juveniles. It's already August 6, and adult males often start their journey home by mid-August. I don't want to think about summer ending...and these little birds going with it, so I'll ignore the shortening days and enjoy the heat and hummer-squabbles as long as I can.

A slow-motion hummingbird video...
Rick was standing next to our trumpet honeysuckle plant when a hummingbird flew up and started sipping nectar from the long, tubular flowers. He had his cell phone on him, so he captured a little video. He used the slow-motion option, and it actually shows the figure-eight motion of the hummingbird's wings in flight (I added a little music for fun).

Ruby-throated Hummingbird in Slow Motion from Kelly Riccetti on Vimeo.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird in Slow Motion -- part 2 from Kelly Riccetti on Vimeo.


Kerri Farley said...

Amazing videos!!!!

Janice K said...

The videos were neat to watch. Sometimes it seems like they zip in and out so quickly. I loved how your hummingbirds seemed to stand out from their background. I am so disappointed with some of the pictures I have taken of them by flowers because they just seem to blend in and not stand out. Most of the time I just watch them. There is one sipping at our feeder right now.

Midmarsh John said...

Love the slow motion videos and be able to see how they use the whole body to manoeuvre.

Kathy A. Johnson said...

Hummingbirds are so cool. So tiny, yet so fierce. We don't see many of them here, but every now and then one of the little jeweled missiles makes an appearance. Love the up-close photos, and the little guy's tough expression.

Roy Norris said...

Amazing still images with a fabulous background Kelly.

Mary Ann Gieszelmann said...

What beautiful pictures!

Tammie Lee said...

lovely bokeh indeed.
such lovely portraits and such a pleasure to see them flying slowly.

JRandSue said...

Amazing photography as always.

Kelly said...

@Kerri - Thanks, Kerri! :-)

@Janet - Thanks, Janet! Using a zoom lens with a darker background helps the birds stand out. The bird is so much lighter and the background blurs...bokeh helps so much!

@John - Thanks, John. I love watching the video as well. It's so interesting to watch how they fly. It helps explain their agility.

@Kathy - You're so right. They do fly around with tough guy expressions, and they are so fierce. Their bills are like swords.

@Roy - Thanks, Roy! Mother Nature really did take care of the background, furnishing the perfect lighting and different colored leaves.

@Mary Ann - Thank you, Mary Ann!! :-)

@Tammie Lee - Thank you....I'm glad Rick was standing there and the hummingbird didn't fly from him. He was a brave little hummer!

@JR & Sue - Thank you! :-) It's so much fun watching and photographing these tiny birds. They are just amazing.