We interrupt this parade of the birds of Magee Marsh and Ohio with breaking news from the backyard! Carol first noticed the hummingbirds coming to our ornamental cherry tree blossoms a week ago, just as the last light was fading. I had to run for my binoculars to see for sure that they were Ruby-throated Hummingbirds (the only likely hummer we have here in Maine, but never, considering the nature of hummingbirds, the only possible hummingbird 🙂 When we saw them again around the pansies on the back deck, we dug out the hummingbird feeder and I mixed up a new batch of juice and hung it on its hook in one corner of the deck. We have had occasional hummingbird activity in the yard in the past (enough to have invested in the feeder and some hummingbird juice mix) but this year we have two pairs of Ruby-throats…two bright males and two clean females…coming to the feeder every few minutes all day long. At first both males tried to defend the feeder…keeping even rival females away…but now they have settled in to more or less tolerate each other. The females often feed at the same time, and I have seen both males on the feeder during the warmest part of the day. As it cooled yesterday, they got fiesty again, pushing each other from feeding hole to feeding hole around the feeder, but they still managed to share the resource. I have seen the males displaying for the females, and have some hope one or the other pair will nest in the big pines along the edge of our yard. The shot above was taken just before sunset, with no direct sun, and does not show the deep ruby of the gorget. Still I was happy to get what I could, standing in the open back door. There is a bit of heat distortion due to the differential between the warm house and the cooling deck, but I did not dare to step further out for fear the bird would fly. Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr.
Anna’s Hummingbird, like this one photographed at Famosa Slough in San Diego, is generally the most common hummer in coastal southern California. This year there were almost as many, maybe more, Allen’s, but that is, in my experience, unusual. Famosa Slough is my go to place to photograph Anna’s. It is easy as there are generally at least 2 males on territory near the end of the trail on the north side of West Point Loma Boulevard, and sometimes one on territory in the little garden between the boulevard and the water on the south side. The trick is getting one to sit with the sun illuminating the gorget. This one cooperated for just long enough to snap off one burst, and then was gone again. Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. 1/640th @ f4 @ ISO 100. -.3EV. Processed in Polarr.
This is apparently a good year for Allen’s Hummingbirds in San Diego, California. On our first day here, someone told my daughter Sally that they are “everywhere”, and that certainly has been our experience. In past years the Anna’s predominated, and we have seen a few Anna’s right were I expected to see. them…along the trail above the marsh at Formosa Slough for instance, where I have seen them every visit to San Diego…but there were also Allen’s there…which is a first for me in all they years I have been coming to the San Diego Birding Festival. Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my birds and wildlife modifications. +2 EV (to compensate for the backlight). Processed in Polarr.
I have been doing some clearing-out of unprocessed images on my iPad Pro and in the process found these shots of the Purple-throated Mountain Gem, taken in December at La Paz Waterfall Gardens on the first day of two weeks in Costa Rica. I knew I had only taken the time to download a few of the images from that day for processing, and, fortunately I had not formatted the card yet, and found these Gems! The Purple-throated Mountain Gem is a mid-altitude hummer, and is replaced by the White-throated Mountain Gem at higher elevations. They share the bold white eye-stripe and overall coloration…only the throat is distinctive. Both are among the most beautiful hummers in Central America. Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. My birds and wildlife modifications of Program mode. 1/250th @ f4 at ISO 800 (left) and ISO 250 (right). Processed in Polarr and assembled in FrameMagic.
Yesterday I posted several shots of male Green-crowned Brilliants, but during this last trip to Costa Rica, females were more prevalent, by about four to one, especially at lower altitudes. This shot is again at the La Paz Waterfall Gardens. I think both the male and female are among the most striking of the Central American hummers. Sony RX10iv at 600mm. My birds and wildlife modifications to Program mode. Processed in Polarr.
On our first full day in Costa Rica, between the hotel in San Jose and Selva Verde Lodge in the Sarapiqui River drainage, we always stop at La Paz Waterfall Gardens for birding and lunch. La Paz Waterfall Gardens is a private nature center just over the continental divide in on the north rim of the Central Valley. It is famous for its series of waterfalls on the La Paz River, and for its hummingbird feeders. On a good day, the feeders can attract over a dozen species of hummers. We were not there on a good day, but I still managed to catch this truly brilliant Green-crowned Brilliant. The hummingbird feeders are under a canopy of heavy vines growing over artistically realistic concrete support vines, so the light can be challenging. Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. My birds and wildlife modifications of Program mode. Processed in Polarr.
This used to be the Green Violet-ear Hummingbird, which distinguished it from the closely related Brown Violet-ear of slightly lower elevations, but in the wisdom of the bird name gods, it is now the Lesser Violet-ear. (Can it be long before the Brown Violet-ear becomes the Greater Violet-ear? Who knows.) The Lesser Violet-ear was by far the most common hummingbird around Savegre Mountain Resort and the Batsu Garden in San Gerardo de Dota this year. You can see in the first image where they get the Violet-ear name. They often flare the ear patch in a dominance display. Each of these images deserves a full screen view. All were taken at Batsu Garden on the mountain side above Savegre Mountain Resort. Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. My birds and wildlife modifications of Program mode. Processed in Polarr. (In the last two, there was a visually distracting over-exposed leaf in the bottom right corner which I edited out in Touch Retouch.)
Among the most active hummingbirds at Dave and Dave’s Costa Rican Nature Park were the White-necked Jacobins…a beautiful hummer that often flares it pure white tail in a dominance display. Light is always an issue in the rainforest, so these shots were all at high ISO, especaily as I wanted a high shutter speed to freeze action. I used my custom Birds in Flight and Action modifications of Program mode, which includes a Auto ISO Minimum Shutter Speed setting to keep the shutter speed above 1/1000th. All shots were processed in Polarr.
The White-throated Mountain Gem inhabits the higher elevations of Costa Rica, from about 6000 feet to timberline, mostly in the Talamanca Mountains south of the Central Valley and San Jose. We encountered this one at Batsu Garden on the mountain side above Savegre Mountain Resort in San Gerardo de Dota on the west slope of the mountains. It used to be called the Gray-tailed Mountain Gem. Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. My custom birds and wildlife modifications of Program mode. Processed in Polarr and assembled in FrameMagic.
The Stripe-throated Hermit, like most Hermit Hummingbirds, rarely perches where anyone can see it…or get a photo of it. Even field-guide photos are mostly flight shots. And, unlike the other Hermits, it is small…one of the smaller hummingbirds of Central America, so it is not easy to catch in flight. This is my best shot from 16 days in Costa Rica, taken at Dave and Dave’s Costa Rican Nature Pavilion in La Virgen. Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. My custom flight mode modifications of Program. 1/1000th. Processed in Polarr.