a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: Bird Photography is Really Hard

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Bird Photography is Really Hard

SUMMARY: Hummingbird family.
I have this awesome opportunity to get some wonderful photos of a hummingbird raising her family. Except--not.

She built her nest on a string of fake ivy on my back deck right above my dogfood bin. See it?

I wouldn't have, either, except that when the dogs and I were gone one day, the Renter noticed it while he was in the kitchen and pointed it out to me.

The challenges: It's very close to the deck roof, so my SLR & lens don't really fit in there to look down on it. There isn't even a good way to get a side-on view, because there's ivy between me and it, and it's too close to the back wall to get in behind it. The fake ivy isn't that sturdy, really, and I'm afraid of knocking it down if I get too close. I have to climb on a stool or ladder to try to get at it.

I've tried, but none of the photos are ready for prime time. Still, kind of fun trying, and they're not terrible. Here's the best I ever got of mommabird sitting on the nest. Now she doesn't seem to do that any more, even at night.

This is a typical view, even with me standing on a stool. Babies two days ago.

And babies this morning--I gave up on the SLR and am using my new little point-and-shoot--it's so slender that it will slip into the space above the nest, and there's just barely enough distance that it will focus properly--if I try about 8 times (and I can't see what I'm aiming at because the camera is up on the ceiling pointing down). I don't think my old P&S would've gotten this!

You can see why mommabird might not be perching there any more--it's getting a little crowded!

Fortunately they're high enough up, and mommabird is small enough (and fast enough!) that the dogs don't even notice her, or else Tika would challenge her every time she came around.


  1. Wow! She has to have been up there a while for the babies to be that far along.

  2. Indeed! I'm not sure I'd ever have noticed her on my own. We first noticed her on the 27th (so, a week ago today). So she built the nest, laid & hatched the eggs, and gave the babies a start before we ever knew she was there.

  3. P.S. Have been sitting here with my bird identification book, reading comments like "broad-tailed female cannot safely be separated from Rufous and Allen's," and "Costa's female is not safely told from Black-chinned female. Female Anna's is larger and slightly darker." (Don't know how you do a comparison unless you've got a Costa's female conveniently nesting next to your Anna's.)

  4. Oh, cool -- love that last photo! Point and shoots definitely have their place don't they.