14 Fantastic Hummingbird Photos You Just Have to See
Readers rose to the challenge in the first-ever Birds & Blooms hummingbird photo contest. Here are the stories behind a few of the best shots.
I am a self-taught amateur photographer, and my favorite subject is hummingbirds. Every year I grow hummingbird-friendly plants near my back porch. What makes photographing the fliers a challenge is I have a C4 injury and am quadriplegic, with full use of only one arm. I used my manufacturing engineering degree to design a mount for my wheelchair that helps me hold the camera. I press the shutter button using a corded release with my tongue, which takes the picture. In this photo it appears the ruby-throated hummingbird has transparent wings—I like to keep a little blur for extra motion.
Sumter, South Carolina
A rufous hummingbird bathed and preened in my garden fountain. The rufous is sometimes hard to differentiate from the Allen's hummingbird, but with all of the rust coloring and the notched tail feather, there was no doubt of its identity.
An Anna's hummingbird graced us with a nest in our front yard in early 2017. We watched the entire fascinating process up close. This shot was taken a few days before the hatchling fledged. The momma bird was just about to feed her baby. She was a very attentive mother.
San Diego, California
This female ruby-throat really seemed to enjoy the summer day from her elevated roost in my yard. She is perched on a kousa dogwood tree fruit. To give you an idea of just how tiny she is, note that the fruit is just 2 to 3 centimeters in diameter. Her petite body isn't even bending the stem! It truly gives a sense of the hummingbird's diminutive size.
East Hampton, Connecticut
Putting on a show
For a few weeks during migration we are lucky to have rufous hummingbirds visit our garden. This female stopped to put on a show, flaring her tail feathers aggressively. Their stays are short, but they defend their territory fiercely, hassling all of the other hummingbirds.
For the free food
A ruby-throat was drinking my homemade nectar (no red dye here!) from a red glass feeder last May. I believe it may be one of a pair from the previous year, as it knew exactly where the feeder was.
Little Meadows, Pennsylvania
Every September dozens of hummingbirds gather at Longfellow Gardens in Minneapolis, Minnesota, before they head south for the winter. I captured this shot of a ruby-throat with my Nikon D750. The bird was taking a quick break before zipping off to sip from another flower.
St. Paul, Minnesota
While visiting Texas Hill Country, my wife, Kathe, and I went for a hike on a friend's land. Kathe spotted this wonderfully camouflaged black-chinned hummingbird nest. We watched the female feed her young while the male briefly buzzed around the nest. It was such a neat scene that I decided to return the next day and set up a blind. I didn't want to simply take a typical close-up photo. Instead I positioned my camera, a Canon EOS-1D with a 500mm lens, so that I could catch the male if he performed the same behavior. I had to wait only three or four hours. I have photographed many hummingbirds, but this is my favorite shot.
Clipper Mills, California
This female ruby-throat holds a special place in my heart. My husband and I saved her from certain death after she got trapped in the upper rafters of our garage. The photo was taken last fall, just one day before she migrated south. I like to think she treated me to a photo session in gratitude for saving her life.
The colors of this male anna's coordinated perfectly with the red-flowering currant plant he visited.
Leslie Scopes Anderson
While at Wild Outdoor World of Arizona, I used a Canon EOS to capture this male Anna's. Hummingbirds come and go constantly at the preserve, located near Tucson and open by appointment. After sipping a bit of nectar, this Anna's returned to his favorite perch, and when he landed, the sun began to shine. The hummingbirds at WOW are in their natural habitat and very accustomed to having people around.
Almost the size of a butterfly
Painted lady butterflies were migrating at the same as the hummingbirds, and my flowers were covered in both! This ruby-throat gave up trying to chase the
butterflies away and decided to share.
In full bloom
I was photographing butterflies at Grant Park in South Milwaukee, Wisconsin, when this ruby-throat flew in to collect nectar from a helianthus bloom.
South Milwaukee, Wisconsin
As the sun sets my favorite thing to do is watch my hummingbirds get their fill of sweetness before nightfall. I took this photo one summer evening on my deck with a Nikon D7100.