Our hummers are very seasonal here at The Ranch, seeing our first normally in the middle of May and the last one the middle of Sept. We have one or two adults at the start of the nesting season and not until the kids are out do we have a dozen or so buzzing about. We have fives species that visit us, the Anna, Black-chinned, Allen’s, Rufous and the sweet little Calliope Hummers here. We had none the first year here so we feel fortunate for those here this summer. We do most of our attracting with plants which definitely love all the attention they receive, from us and the hummers. We do have three feeders at opposite ends of the property. And as you might imagine, each one has been claimed as the sole property of one hummer. We’ve seen that “owner” change a couple of times. The feeder I set up to photograph at belonged at first to a Calliope, then it changed hands to an adult, male Rufous. And now there is an immature Rufous male and he is the funnest hummer I’ve photographed!
One of the great things is he’s not shy, not one bit! I’m right at the MFD of the Z400f4.5, about six feet away from the feeder just standing there with the Z 9 / Z400f4.5 / Z1.4x on a tripod with the SmallRig Fluid head (on a side note, the Z400f4.5 is a fabulous lens! Sharp, fast, light, I’m loving it!). This little guy is pretty darn smart, or clever, or devilish depending on your point of view. In his taking “ownership” of the feeder comes defending his new territory. He will occasionally sit on a nearby perch and swoop down on an intruder but he prefers to “hide” right behind the feeder and ambush interlopers! There is a period around 08:00 when the sun comes through the feeder striking him as he hovers in wait and creates a really cool light on this devilish little guy.
He will just hover there in place behind the feeder which is great for photography. The Z 9 in Auto Area AF animal eye-detect locks on faster than I can see it appear in the viewfinder. The 20fps burst catches a whole lot more hummer photos than the “empty” images I was use to. At times, the little Rufous will perch on the chain holding the feeder in wait. It occasionally will drink itself, but for the first hours of daylight, it’s full on guard duty. Then there are the times he hides hovering right alongside the Z400f4.5 to the right. Trying to figure out how to get that photo. He’s quite the character. We don’t have a name for him yet (but thinking Sly) but he sure has filled the void of the nesting House Wrens which now travel about The Ranch in a pack of seven.
I hope you’ve having the opportunity to photograph hummers this summer! These photos are using the KISS method, just using sunlight. If you need to use flash which I typically do, remember I posted this video that goes through my entire rig. Though the rig has now changed, all the basics are the same. Well, back out to my new little friend. He’s such a character but yeah, not so innocent!