I had my first up close and personal encounter with hummingbirds during my journey through Peru and most recently during my visit to Scottsdale, Arizona.  

I had a particularly exciting encounter with this little dynamo in Beaver Creek.  See if you agree.  First, some background.

  • There are over 325 species of hummingbird in the world, but only 8 are regulars in the United States
  • While most people think of hummingbirds as tiny, and most are between 2-4.5 inches, there are actually large species such as:
    • giant hummingbird – 9 inches long
    • Blue throated hummingbird – 5 inches long

Above two photos are from the internet

  • Hummingbirds can’t walk or hop – their legs are only used for perching, scratching and preening
  • Going forward a hummingbird can reach a speed up to 30 miles an hour and diving it can actually reach 60 miles an hour
  • Hummingbirds fly not only forward, but also backward, sideways and straight up. They can also hover for long periods, and can even do backward somersaults
  • These birds are very territorial, fighting off other hummingbirds from choice nectar laden flowers.  However most hummingbirds avoid confrontations with bees with the exception of the 3 inch long rufous hummingbird who despite its size is quite aggressive

Part of my travel preparations in the States is introducing myself by email and phone to the concierge of the hotel where I am planning to stay, tapping into their expertise not only of the hotel’s offerings but also the surrounding area’s highlights.  For a nature photographer such as myself the latter usually applies to best sights to find my desired subjects.

The concierge at the Beaver Creek Hotel and Spa is Steph Johnson and her advice was impeccable.  As you remember from my previous posts about Beaver Creek, I had only been slightly successful in photographing the local wildlife – perhaps in part to the recent fires close by – the animals might have relocated for the time being to another spot.

Steph knew how much I wanted to get photos and mentioned one morning that she had heard people had been seeing lots of hummingbirds on the property about a 10 minute walk away.  The hummingbirds are most active right before sunset so before dinner one night my friend Lenore and I set out to test our luck.

In retrospect I think Lenore should have taken a video of me running around to get into best positions to capture digitally these beautiful perpetual motion birds – you might have gotten a kick at my little girl’s glee.  I hope that joy is expressed in these shots:


What  I couldn’t catch in a clear shot was a photo of the hummingbirds’ frustration that one particular feeder was commandeered by a bunch of bees.  While bigger than bees, these hummingbirds are of the broad-tailed species, and unlike the rufous they are not aggressive.
Luckily there were enough feeders for both birds and bees.

Catching these photos was the best dinner appetizer ever.  I hope I will have the opportunity to see more species of this magical bird during my future journeys.


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