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Louisa and I spent most of our lives living in the eastern United States, moving to Tucson only about a decade ago. There’s only one species of hummingbird that one usually sees in the East, the Ruby-throated Hummingbird, and it’s not a very common sight. We were delighted to discover when we moved here that the Tucson area is home to several hummingbird species. There’s not only a diversity of species here but one sees these birds often, especially in the spring and summer months.
Our backyard became the kingdom of a male Costa’s Hummingbird during the spring and summer of 2020. This little hummingbird staked out favorite perches on the Palo Verde trees in our yard. I’d often see him sitting there in between his forays for nectar and small insects.
One April morning I happened to be standing by our backyard wall when I noticed the Costa’s sitting on a Palo Verde just a few meters from where I was standing. The hummingbird was engrossed in preening, meticulously grooming his feathers, and he was indifferent to my presence. I made a series of images of him as he preened, and this is the best of the group.
I like this shot for a lot of reasons. The lighting was terrific and it illuminated some of the iridescent feathers on the hummingbird’s neck. My exposure was spot on and the image is razor sharp. However, what I like most about this image is the bird’s pose. I’ve photographed hummingbirds on many occasions over the past few years, however, this is the only time that I’ve been able to capture this behavior.
His protruding neck feathers are a hallmark of Male Costa’s Hummingbirds. These birds have unique neck plumage that extends downward and outward from their chins. No other hummingbird species in our area displays this characteristic.
Image made with a Canon 5Div, Canon EF 400mm f4 DO II lens+EF 1.4x telextender, M setting (auto ISO) f5.6 @ 1/2500.