Wildlife Photography | The Patience of a Hummingbird

I have been described as having the patience of a hummingbird. It might be true, I won’t contest the idea that I struggle with patience (big time). However, that might be an unjust statement to the hummingbird.


“Some of my old memories feel trapped in amber in my brain, lucid and burning, while others are like the wing beat of a hummingbird, an intangible, ephemeral blur.”

(Mira Bartok)

Every spring the Ruby-throated hummingbirds come back to my gardens after their tropical winter respite. They are so funny. So much attitude punched into that little body as they defend their floral territories. Over the last couple weeks I have been trying to photograph them. If I sit outside without my camera in hand, they come to the flowers right in front of me, taking their time to dutifully visit each individual flower. Two males usually have daily fights with each other and zoom off into the woods chasing one another. All the while paying no mind to me.

But as soon as the camera is in my hand, it’s a whole different game. They don’t come to the flowers I am set up on. They buzz by only briefly. They do fly-bys to see if I am still set up. So frustrating, especially with this heat and humidity (because of course the flowers they like are in direct sun). It has definitely been a test of my patience, which is probably why it has taken me so long to photograph them. But one thing I did observe is that the hummingbirds themselves are not lacking in patience. Anything but.

I’d sit on one side of the garden where they had been visiting more frequently and for longer duration, then they switched to the other side. I’d switch to that side, they’d switch back to the other. I put my camera down, then they would made a too-quick-for-my-reflexes visit. I’d set the camera up on a tripod, they’d sit in the tree branches just outside of the range of my lens. Good grief they are smart, but tenacious and patient.

I think eventually we got used to each other. Well, that and I gave up trying to get a close-up photograph of them. So I set up on one side of the garden, but this time with enough view of the other side that they would be in reach of my lens. I managed to get a few images.

click images to enlarge for best viewing || Ruby-Throated Hummingbird

click images to enlarge for best viewing || Ruby-Throated Hummingbird


hummingbird 2 photo


hummingbird 4 photo


So if you are going to mimic the trait of a hummingbird, mimic their intelligent, tenacious spirit.

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