The Ruby-throated Hummingbird is most common in Kansas.
When I first started photographing birds this year, hummingbirds were one I particularly focused on. I put out several hummingbird feeders filled with nectar and waited, and waited, and waited. I was a bit surprised how few of them showed up. Although I did see two hummingbirds earlier in the season, I was not able to photograph them.
You need to keep in mind the hummingbirds’ active months. Nothing is more frustrating than setting everything up for them only to find out you’re a month early or late.
I photographed my first hummingbird in late August.
This one is likely a female as juvenile males would probably show more markings on the throat.
She was exploring my different feeders. Unfortunately I did not have my hummingbird feeder out since I haven’t seen many. Hopefully, she’ll come back and bring her friends now that I put out the nectar they like.
When I first put out hummingbird feeders early in the season I was using commercially bought nectar. It was convenient and easy to prepare, but a bit pricey. I bought a 2lb. box of 8 4oz. packets. Simply dissolve 1 packet with 16oz. of water and I was good to go.
After doing a little research, I discovered that making my own nectar was more affordable.
The nectar needs to be changed about every 3-4 days to prevent it becoming rancid. And, the feeders need to be regularly cleaned to prevent mold from forming inside the feeder.
The male hummingbird’s spectacular throat feathers is called a gorget and they have an important purpose.
The male hummingbird will flash his gorget as part of his courtship display to a female. Based on her impression of his gorget and display, the female choose whether or not to accept the male as her mate.
It’s important to understand as much as you can about hummingbirds if you want to photograph them.
The Hummingbird Book:
The Complete Guide to Attracting, Identifying, and Enjoying Hummingbirds
With this comprehensive, beautifully illustrated guide, you’ll find it easy to attract these tiny, jewel-like birds to your own yard. The Stokes Hummingbird Book provides all the information you need to bring hummingbirds up close, identify them, and understand their fascinating and varied behavior.
Learning to recognize their song can be highly helpful. Their small size and rapid speed make them difficult to notice if you’re not looking in the right spot. As I sat in waiting, I would sometimes hear their low pitched song and then started looking more closely for them.
After several days of experimenting, I think I’ve got the exposure and focus modes pretty well nailed on my Nikon D5600 and Nikkor AF-P 70-300 f 6.3. I’ve been using Shutter priority mode with 1/1000 or 1/1500 sec. to freeze the motion of the wings and +1 exposure compensation. I’ve been using back button focus with the mode Continuous with a focus area Dynamic-area AF 9 points. I’ve also been doing some post processing in PhotoShop to crop the image and remove some of the noise in the backgrounds and to sharpen the main subject a bit.