Monday, June 1, 2009

Catching a Hummingbird

Originally uploaded by bowtoo
We have a hummingbird feeder stuck to the window of our living room.

For two years now a few hummingbirds have returned to this feeder. We have learned that they come back to the same nest every year and need to consume large amounts of nectar to survive - feeding about once every 45min.

They migrate to and from Central America, across the Gulf of Mexico in the spring after consuming large numbers of insects and almost doubling their weight.

The adult bird is very small. Their nest is the size of an American Quarter (South African 50c piece) and the are probably about 3in (8cm) long from tip to tail.

Watching them feed is like magic - they hover and dip their beak into the feeder and then rapidly fly back to hover a foot or so from the feeder before coming in for the next sip. We often sit watching them through the window a few feet away from us as they feed.

If you are outside they sound like large bumble bees as they hover.

I took this photograph from about 10feet away in full sunlight at 1/1600s - even at that speed the wings are blurred from their movement.



"A human kind of human" reminded of the Sunbirds of Africa - I took a picture of one (not hovering) while I was there last October.


  1. Hi Tim, we have similar (or maybe they are the same) birds in our garden but here they are known as Sunbirds. The first time I saw one hovering, I thought it was a big moth. I would love to see a photo of their nest with eggs in it and also of the chicks. They must be minute. SA regards.

  2. Thanks! I haven't seen one live but saw a web site with pictures of the nests.

    I photographed a sunbird when I was visiting last year. I should add that to this entry. The sunbird was a little bigger than this one - but they hover in the same way. I am sure it is the same family.