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April 22, 2007

Anna's Hummingbird: You want a piece of me?

Anna's Hummingbird, originally uploaded by supercilium.

Today's FlickrFind.

This is a male Anna's hummingbird photographed in British Columbia, Canada.


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Oh my God, I love the photos you post. They're one of my favorite things about your site.

That is simply gorgeous.

Hummingbird's colors, particularly on the gorget, are even more beautiful in that they flash on and off, compelling you to look at them.

The hummingbird's colors are not "real", but rather structural colors a phenomenon found also in butterfly wings and, so help me God, mandrill’s faces and asses, and on the turquoise scrota of vervet monkeys, though, so far, the monkeys lack the next step in structural coloring: iridescence and the flashing effect. (Old world primates –including us- unlike other mammals, have full color vision.) Given a few more million years of evolution, perhaps we can look forward to iridescent, flashing monkey asses/balls.

Nature really is more wonderful than one could possibly even imagine.

Dang, that is one bad-ass hummingbird.

I first saw one of these hummers at U Vic, first week of March, during a "Garry oak awareness" symposium, several years ago. One of the garden staff there assured me that they had been wintering over for about 3 or 4 years, that they knew of... It's probable that the availability of feeders and milder winters and the exotic landscaping in an urban area all contribute to this phenomenon... or maybe it's their way of avoiding the smaller (but far more aggressive) ruby-throats- who don't show up until the salmonberries & red currants begin to bloom... ^..^

there really are bad-ass hummingbirds. The concept is funny, but true: male hummingbirds are very territorial. A friend of mine in Seattle had a hummingbird feeder and always got dive bombed by the male hummingbird who had staked out the feeder as his territory whenever my friend filled it. Since it was only a hummingbird he found it amusing, but I thought I'd pass the story along.

I dig through a lot of biology-related literature at work and come up with wonderful serendipitous stuff, like a report of a pair of male hummingbirds found dead, mutually impaled on one another’s beaks. Unfortunately, I can’t find the reference or remember what path led me to it.

Structural color (which is common to birds and butterflys, as well as fish and some mammals) creates some interesting photographic problems.

Birds have glorious color (hummingbirds being a brilliant example) but because the angle of reflectance affects the display of them, it's a good idea to use flash, even in bright sun, because only with the right angles of light (angle of incidence = angle of reflectance, which we usually care about in terms of avoiding glare... why yes, I have been working on editing some photography books, why do you ask? :) can the colors shine.

I have some really nice hummingbird shots, and the ones which I didn't have a flash unit set up, needed some processing to reveal the colors.

Oh, hummingbirds are nasty, thankfully they are small. A friend had a rip taken out of his scalp when one decided he was intruding. I've been dive-bombed and seen them chase birds, and small animals, away.

A very territorial bird was seriously considering taking a chunk out of me today...

cfrost makes some great points about the problems even identifying these birds properly (with regards to species/subspecies and sex) without proper light or angle...

Male territorial? Yes. But female (about her nest) as well...

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