A few bird photos from the backyard.

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Mature Female Ruby Throated Hummingbird

The easy way to tell a male from a female is that the mature male has the ruby-red throat band. More subtle techniques include noting if the bill is smooth or corrugated, (younger birds have corrugated bills), and if the sixth primary feather is notched and shorter than the others. Based on the lack of a notch on the 6th feather, and very few corrugations on the bill, I believe this is a mature female.



Mature Male Ruby-Throated Hummingbird

No doubt about the gender of this one. The red 'gorget' gives it away easily as a male.


Sticking tongue out

Hummingbirds actually feed by grabbing food with their tongues. If it's a liquid, such as nectar from a flower, then do it pretty much like cats and dogs...they just lap the liquid up with their tongues. If it's a small insect, the wrap the end of the tongue around their snack and quickly pull it in.

Zeroing in on lunch.

Looking somewhat like a vampire ready to strike, this bird has that steely look of determination that all hummingbirds seem to have when hungry.



The motion blur on the wings (due to the relatively 'slow' shutter speed of 1/2000th of a second) adds a feeling of graceful motion to this mature female in flight.

On the original image, when highly magnified, the bill appears very smooth. Immature birds usually have a lot of corrugations on their bills, so this leads me to think that this is a mature female.


I call this 'Snapshot' 'cause I literally had no time to set it up. I happened to look out my window and the bird (which I think is a male Great Blue Heron) was just landing. It immediately started fishing, and I had time to open the window and grab one shot before the fish went 'down the hatch'.

The image is seriously overexposed and has a variety of other technical issues, not the least is that the camera I used (an EOS 20Da, which is made specifically for use on astronomical targets) doesn't have an IR blocking filter in front of the sensor, so the colors are not exactly 'true'.


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Questions/comments, E-mail me at john at theastroimager dot com