Ruby-throated Rum Swizzle
by Steve Byland
Needs One Of Those Little Umbrellas
I have learned that Hummingbirds can be taught to drink sugar water out of just about any type of feeder. One afternoon, I decided to push that idea to the limit and get one to drink out of a straw in a glass. The real problem was getting the straw full of sugar water all the way to the top without floating in the glass. I used duct tape and a large nail to keep it full and in place.
I put the yellow flower from a standard feeder in the end of the straw and placed the glass near the feeder. Within about 10 minutes the bird was drinking from the straw (which needed to be topped off after each visit). After a while, I removed the flower and the bird just started drinking out of the straw.
The big downside was that the bird thought that EVERY straw should be filled with sugar water and would "pollinate" any drink with a straw left unattended. This photo went viral and brought about 250,000 views to my website in a couple of hours before the site crashed.
Taken with a Canon 40d using a Canon 300mm f2.8 lens. f/8 (to get the whole cup in focus) 1/640th of a second (because that was the fastest shutter speed available at f/8.
While I have been a full-time, professional wildlife photographer for years, I always laugh when people see the equipment that I haul around and say that I must be a very "serious" photographer. There is a huge difference between working hard at your profession and being "serious." I write for a number of magazines, and, so far, they have tolerated my off-beat sense of humor. I was asked to photograph an albino Ruby-throated Hummingbird this fall. It was the first time that I tried to use the video function on my camera - I should have practiced first. Another piece of work that spread all over the internet. Apologies to those of you that got motion sickness from watching my poor camera work.
I take over 100,000 photos a year, about 20,000 are of hummingbirds. To the up-an-coming hummingbird photographer I would tell them to worry about getting the sun behind you and forget about everything else. Play with the settings on your camera and take as many photos as the birds allow you. I have taken great photos at 1/3000 of a second to freeze the action and others at 1/60th of a second to show wing blur. My best tip is to make your hummingbird feeder easily movable. Place it in good light and plug up all the holes that you DON'T want the birds to visit.