Friday, August 3, 2012

The Chuparosa Challenge-Tales From Abroad

Let's start off with the Magnificent Hummer.    Again, everytime I go out on my quests, people ooo and ahhh at this particular hummingbird:)  Today's adventure takes us to the top of Mt. Lemmon near Ski Valley.  I was searching for the Broad Tailed Hummer. 
So I followed this tame raven to the Iron Door tavern after a long hike in the woods.  This raven was raised by humans after the fires and is one of two that you'll find around this place.  They are very healthy and happy:) One of the hummingbirds that has eluded me has been the Broad Tailed Hummingbird.
I don't know why because they are quite common.  But I've been discovering that each canyon, each mountain top sports different hummingbirds and that has been a really interesting observation about these little adventures.  Case in point.  I started noticing a different type of female hummingbird in the woods.  I do not joke when I say they hover right in front of me.  I start noticing different sounds, different flight patterns and different patterns on the gorget.   That's when I knew I was in the right spot.   It's hard to describe the noise or flight patterns of a hummer.  But if you recognize their vocalizations, you'll notice the variety of sounds that they can make. 
But let's examine the female first.  In the pic above, you might notice the "striping" on the gorget.  There's also a little brown/yellow on the side of the wing.  This tipped me off that I was dealing with a different female hummer from the rest that I have observed on my trips.
The male Broad Tailed Hummingbird looks a lot like the Ruby Throated Hummingbird back east.  It's gorget will appear dark or black when it's not "flashing":)  What do I mean by this?  Look at the pic below of the Magnificent Hummer.  Notice how the gorget(throat) shines a blue color?  When it's not the pretty blue color, it's a dark black color.  So I was hoping that the male Broad Tailed Hummer would "flash" for me.   The results were incredible.  During this shoot, I was able to go alone and focus on the photography bit without having to entertain people.
There were warning signs that something was "going down".  Their territorial calls come first and then the swoop and attack.  The male Broad Tailed hummer would usually chase off the Magnificent.  The females would come in first and then.....
......I would wait:)  And wait:) And wait......:)
My first shot was by accident.  Here is the very quick male Broad Billed Hummer.  He wasn't really into the feeders on this day so I had to locate where he was perching.  And that is where I'd get the best pictures.
Here(below) we can see the BT flashing his gorget.  Pretty little hummer.
Many of you have wondered how big some of these birds get.  I needed perspective and here is a simple branch with the BT on it.  You can see how small these tiny birds are.  And as a photographer, I love this series of pictures.

The key is listening for their chirps and whirrrrrs.  I was able to locate the male easily by tracking his flight patterns and keeping my ears open.
I was just amazed how territorial this little guy was with the male Magnificent Hummers.  They're much larger.  How does this little guy get away with chasing the big guys off?:)
And I saved my favorite picture for the last part of this post today.  If you go out and search for hummers, remember there are 2 "Broad" titled hummingbirds.  I often, in my excitement, mix their names up.  There is the Broad Billed Hummer which is an incredible blue color and orange bill and then there is this guy below....the Broad Tailed Hummer.  My search continues.  I've had some difficulty with the monsoon rains creating terrible road conditions on the canyon roads.  Many of the roads are muddy and not accessible by car.   I'll be sticking to paved roads for now and hopefully I'll find some of the more elusive hummers out there.  Stay tuned for more.... PS. Warren I have a stats post coming up for you with the list, etc of hummingbirds spotted including where I found them.


  1. Cool sightings and photos of the hummers. I would love to see these beautiful birds up close. Great post, have a wonderful weekend.

  2. Incredible photos Chris. So glad you tracked down your Broad-tailed Hummingbird.

  3. I'll stay tuned for sure...
    and you are right, even when you have your eye on the camera eye viewfinder, as soon as you hear this specific wings noise you know you have to be more than ready to press the shutter...

  4. Дивовижні пташки! Хотіла би, щоб такі жили в моїй країні... Дуже гарна публікація!

    xoxo, Juliana

  5. You're becoming quite the expert on hummingbirds, Chris. One of these days we'll see a book by you!

  6. wOw!! yours are amazing pictures of the hummers!!they're so FAST...and don't stay still for very long!! how DO you do it?!!
    i love the iridescent throats...uh...gorget!

    they sure are territorial...chirping...swooping...chasing each other off from a feeder. like little dive-bombers!

    one time we had one fly into the window screen...he got stuck, sam had to PUSH his little beak back out!!

    happy friday chris!

  7. I was glued to every photo and every word of this wonderful post! Thanks for getting me up close and personal with these beauties.

  8. The photos are wonderful!! I LOVE hummingbirds. They are so fascinating.

  9. Beautiful, I love hummers. I have a few here and I am amazed at the variety of vocalizations they us. Thanks for showing the broad tailed hummers, I haven't seen them before. Wishing you a great weeken.

  10. These are wonderful birds and well shot. What do they eat in the wild? I presume you put dilute honey in the feeder.

    1. Hi Adrian, great question. In the wild the feed from the nectar of flowers especially our tubular ones....but really, they will go to anything of color. The other thing they like to eat are insects.

      Our feeders usually use sugar. Three types and all work. Diluted honey has been used although it's stickier and makes a bit more of a challenge to clean. Most people use sugar. There are two thoughts. 1 part sugar to 4 parts water boiled together and then let to cool before serving. Most use the regular white sugar, but some say that's unnatural...use the unbleached sugar(brown).....and some dye the water red. It all works but I just use the plain jane sugar without dye.

  11. i love the hummingbirds you present to us since you see varieties i never will. :)

  12. Oh well done indeed Chris. They really are the most delicate little creatures, who knew there were so many different types! the Broadtailed 'flasher' is fabulous, you must have been so thrilled to catch that image, I would have been over the moon.

  13. Chris, these are excellent shots. I like that you got shots of the hummer away from the feeder. All of these are wonderful. I'm working on a trip to Mr. Lemmon with Tracy and my brother soon and then I think things are falling into place for November. :) Happy Friday!

  14. Nice work Chris! Your patience paid off.

  15. Oh my- love the hummers- so cute! Great shots!

  16. oh great job...I was thrilled to see them all

  17. Beautiful birds. Beautiful photography. You really out did your self with these photos!!!

  18. dear chris, you are an amazing photographer. i find it difficult to photograph a flower if there is a slight breeze, let alone an ordinary bird, yet you manage these clear shots of the fastest smallest birds I am aware of. I love your enthusiasm - and your detailed knowledge about the differences between them. great post - cheers, cm.

  19. ¸.•♫°`♡彡

    Eles são tão delicados! Parecem brinquedos.

    Bom fim de semana!

  20. I've not seen the Magnificent. But if you want broad-tailed, they are here by the scores. Excellent shots.

  21. I just love those Hummers Chris, I look forward to reading your Hummer starts mate ;-)

  22. Congratulations on these excellent photos, you must be thrilled! I love the close-ups.

  23. This is a wonderful series of photos! This is where I saw my first ever magnificent hummingbird. I think they are all magnificent! Congrats on your find!

  24. made a nice joke in your title. :-) I have lots of hummers that flash the red. My old pal Sluggo (I wish I knew what happened to him) flashed often. He was very selfish about his space which seemed to include the entire block. could have just come and visited me. :-)


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