Saturday, September 26, 2009

Where Toronto Does Get Ripped Off....

Ruby-Throated Hummingbird hovers in Toronto, Robert Rafton
I'm always saying that such and such an animal is all over Toronto, that we're lucky to have so many [insert wildlife here]. But when it comes to hummingbirds, we're like the rest of eastern North America: we stink. Because out of the dozen or so species of hummingbirds in North America we get

Yes, the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird, a female in this particular case. The males are even harder to find - you can spot them by the reddish-ruby on their throat (see how this works?) - and by this time of year they've left for their wintering grounds on the Yucatan Peninsula. The females will follow very soon, so if you want to see some stragglers move fast.

If you want a picture of a hummingbird, your best bet is a feeder in the backyard. You can also hang a feeder in a local park. Either way you may have to wait a long time. As far as technique you really are better off shooting hummingbirds with flash to freeze the wing motion since the wings move at about fifty beats a second. You can see in this shot (without flash sadly) that the tail feathers vibrate too; a flash should give the tail feathers a much crisper look. If you shoot without flash, make sure you set your shutter speed as high as you can, at least to 1/800th of a second.