Female Black-chinned Hummingbird
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I had the opportunity to photograph an extremely cooperative female Black-chinned Hummingbird on a recent trip into the Huachuca Mountains. The little bird hovered in front of me for what seemed to be a couple of eternities — eternities that each probably lasted 8 or 10 seconds — while I snapped picture after picture of her.
Black-chinned Hummingbirds are quite common west of the Mississippi and they closely resemble the familiar Ruby-throated Hummingbirds that one sees in the eastern United States.
The field guides describe them as inhabitants of lowland riparian and oak woods. If that’s the case, what was one of these doing at 6000 feet above sea level?
Well, as I’ve said about Arizona, in this state habitat is often determined by elevation. The lowlands in southeastern Arizona are pretty much all desert and the climate and vegetation is decidedly not riparian and oak woods. But, such habitat does exist and in fairly surprising amount if one just travels uphill. So, in southeastern Arizona, Black-chinned Hummingbirds can be found on mountain slopes even if they are lowland birds elsewhere.
Depicting images of hummingbirds in flight is a tour de force that every budding nature photographer aspires to accomplish. I know that when I started taking pictures of wildlife I imagined that I’d be maximizing my talent if I ever got one of these little birds in the air. The truth is that it’s usually easier to catch a hummingbird in flight than to photograph other species while on the wing, because hummingbirds have the propensity to hover, nearly stationary, for seconds at a time. It’s no piece of cake, mind you, because one still has to train one’s lens on the bird in the few seconds that the bird is motionless in the air and achieve proper focus and exposure. The trick lies in anticipating where these birds are going to hover and to wait for the hummers to come to the right location. This bird was hovering in front of my camera because there was a hummingbird feeder just outside the frame and she was preparing to feed.
Images made with a Canon 5Diii, 100-400 f4-5.6 ISII zoom lens, aperture priority setting, ISO 2500, f6.3, shutter speeds varied.