Of the 338 hummingbird species in the world, 18 are commonly seen in the United States. These spend the winter in Central America and breed in the United States and Canada. Most hummingbirds are only 3 to 4 inches long. Hummingbirds generally weigh between one tenth and one quarter of an ounce. These little flying jewels are always popular in gardens and yards, and their readiness to visit hummingbird feeders makes them a popular subject for bird watchers and photographers alike.
Hummingbirds feed mostly on the nectar of flowers. They have beaks and long tongues perfectly adapted to reach deep down to the blossoms to reach the sweet liquid. Hummingbirds also visit feeders containing sugar water (1-part sugar to 4-parts water). Besides nectar and sugar water, hummingbirds also sometimes eat very small spiders. Unlike many birds, hummingbirds feed constantly throughout the day and into the evening hours.
Hummingbirds generally make their nests in trees, or sometimes in the rafters of barns and sheds. Hummingbird nests can be as low as 6 feet or as high as 50 feet off the ground. Hummingbird nests are built mostly out of dandelion and thistle down. The nest is a small open cup where two eggs are generally laid. The chicks hatch after about 12 days. After about 20 days the hummingbirds are ready to leave the nest and fly.
Taking Hummingbird Pictures with the Wingscapes BirdCam
The beauty of hummingbirds is their gem-like color. The reds, blues and greens shine like rubies, sapphires and emeralds when seen in full sunlight. In fact, this gem-like color gives many of them their names, such as Ruby Throated Hummingbirds and Beryline Hummingbirds. However it is also this brilliant coloring that can make it tricky to take hummingbird pictures.
A hummingbird feather is actually a flat, solid color. The brilliant jewel-like and flashy metallic colors are due to the feather being iridescent and causing some wavelengths of light to be diffracted and others to be absorbed. Think of hummingbird feathers as being covered with tiny bicycle reflector-like particles and you'll get the basic idea.
Tips for Better Hummingbird Pictures with a Wingscapes BirdCam
- Shoot All Day - Hummingbirds feed from early morning until well into the evening. They visit hummingbird feeders repeatedly throughout the day - sometimes as often as every ten minutes. Leaving the BirdCam set up all day will ensure you capture hummingbird pictures in the best light.
- Setup is Key - Position the BirdCam so that it is either level or slightly higher than the hummingbird feeder. This should give you good color of the hummingbird's iridescent feathers. Use the BirdCam Mounting Arm accessory if needed.
- Get Close - Place the Wingscapes BirdCam close to the hummingbird feeder (ideally 18" – 23" away) to maximize the detail captured in the image.
- Aim the BirdCam so that the perching or nectar dispensing area of the hummingbird feeder will be in the center of the image. This will ensure that the BirdCam motion sensor trips as frequently as possible. Don't forget to use the laser aiming device if you need it.
- Don't Miss a Shot - Hummingbirds are small and move fast. In order to capture the maximum number of images, set the sensitivity setting to HIGH. Increasing the number of photos or videos per event and decreasing the delay setting will also help ensure that the BirdCam captures a high number of hummingbird pictures.
- Remember the background! Try positioning the Wingscapes BirdCam near a flowering plant where hummingbirds are visiting. Fewer hummingbirds may visit the flower than a hummingbird feeder, but resulting images will be worth it!
Hummingbird Resources on the Web
The Hummingbird Society - http://www.hummingbirdsociety.org
Hummingbirds.net - http://www.hummingbirds.net
Hummingbird Study Group - http://www.hummingbirdsplus.org