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Thursday, June 30, 2016

The Hummingbird Project

TOBACCOVILLE, NC - There is a buzzing sound in the distant. Your mind's eye immediately generates pictures of various types of bees and insects, but then the sound gets louder and faster. You turn to see the what giant insect is coming toward you, but instead of an insect you see a blur of a small bird zipping in and out and coming within inches of your head. They are moving so fast and are so small that the only way our brains seem to lock in on them is when they hover for a moment.
In that moment, when they are hovering in the sun, they are like a ruby and emerald armored bird.  As the bird turns, backs up and moves in for the nectar within the flower, they flash with an iridescent beauty that only God could create.  It is absolutely stunning! 
There are few people in the world, who can resist the awe inspiring sight of the hummingbird.  Those who do not give heed to any other bird, will feed, video, photograph and gawk at this compact, light bending spectacle.  They are indeed the crown jewel of the birding world.

For me my journey into the magical world of the hummingbird begins every May when I set out the hummingbird feeders and culminates in June with the Hummingbird Project.  This project began three years ago, when I first began to photograph hummers, and to date I have ten images which I feel are worthy to share with others.
The journey started with photography three years ago, but now I  find that I tend to watch the birds much more closely than I used to.  Instead of just looking for the great shot, I look at behavior as I try to sort out what makes these beauties tick.  Just last night, as I was photographing the female ruby-throated, I observed some very fierce fighting.  A rival hummingbird came in slowly and began hovering in large circles.  No doubt, he was looking for other hummingbirds who may have claimed this area.  Slowly, he moved in for the nectar.
The next second or two were all but a blur as another male hummingbird zipped past my ear on a fast dive from a nearby fruit tree.  He was moving at such a high rate of speed, that my mind/eye only saw a blur. The now feeding contender, simply moved backward and the dive bomber flew right past him and slammed into a piece of wood back behind the feeder.  Evidently, the more experienced, feeding hummingbird saw him coming and acted with intelligence rather than raw power.   The dive bomber was hurt and stunned.  Hew flew in tight sloppy circles and eventually flew off.  Now, you may think that it is just the males who fight and often that is the case, but the females will also go a round or two on occasion.

This scenario is just one of many; for these little packages pack quite a punch.  They are aggressive and will stop at nothing to push rival males out of their territory. Perhaps it is the fact that they are both beautiful and "deadly" that keeps me coming back for more.  Whatever the reason these birds have captured my heart and I greatly look forward to each spring and their return to North Carolina.  The hummingbird project continues.



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