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Photographing Hummingbirds

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Here's The Situation at Toro Amarillo Hummingbird Garden. Lots of feeders hanging everywhere. Birds waiting their turns, birds feeding on the abundant plantings.
You can take photos of birds visiting feeders, but in the end, they're photos of a magical bird sitting on a much less than magical piece of red plastic.

So upon arriving at any hummingbird garden, I go all googly eyed like everybody else, but I wait to photograph any birds until I figure out where they're hanging out when they're not at the feeders.

The black-bellied hummingbird fascinated me. I searched in vain for any color on its front. Nope. This bird is like yin to every other hummer's yang. 

It's the ultimate black. Just black. None blacker. And a cool little crew-cut flattop hairdo that captivated me. Kind of a concept bird.

There's a very nice bit of copper in its secondaries and the base of its primaries that flashes in flight, and the requisite metallic green on its back. And a huge dash of white in the tail, always a surprise in any hummingbird. 

The endemic coppery-headed emerald was here, too, showing its coppery tail, which confused me more than once. With 53 species of hummingbirds in Costa Rica, I figured there must be a coppery-tailed emerald out there somewhere. Brain scramble is a common problem when birding here.

We wound up with a trip total of 26 hummingbird species, which was pretty awesome. We could easily have billed this trip solely as a hummingbird safari, but there was oh so much more.

 One of the 26 was the green-crowned brilliant.

Brilliants remind me of little dragons coated in glittering mail.

Lights off...

Lights on! with a sapphire at his throat.

  I adore the scaly breast of the female green-crowned brilliant. Very fetching.

 Purple-throated mountaingems were buzzing about. I get kind of excited about the tiny hummingbirds, because they're usually really interesting.

I played with composition, trying to decide whether I preferred vertical

or horizontal treatment of this female purple-throated mountaingem.

Her dashing mate was much harder to catch, and I got only a whisper of his purple throat. But the white postocular stripe gives him away.

Photographing hummingbirds is like an addictive video game. You're always trying to better your last outing. There is no perfect hummingbird shot. But you sure wind up with a lot of them! Next time...


This is Jenny who was on Julie's recent trip to Costa Rica. To let you all know how fabulous Julie's trips are, I am planning to do another trip with her to SOUTH AFRICA this September! Her trips are the perfect combination of "getting" the birds and critters, but also taking time for observation and photography. For details on the SOUTH AFRICA trip go to Holbrook Travel website. This trip is only 6 months away. Check it out and come with us to glorious Africa!

Posted by Anonymous March 24, 2015 at 7:01 AM

Love all these hummingbird pics. And the tutorial as well.

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