Pharyngula

i-f64aecfafe2259929870c106fba761c0-hummingbird.jpeg

Comments

  1. #1 Emmet, OM
    April 20, 2009

    Oooh, pretty. I saw my first hummingbird a couple of months ago, but he flew away before I could get my camera out.

  2. #2 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 20, 2009

    Great shot sequence. I’ve spent many an hour sitting on my porch trying to get a similar sequence of shots.

  3. okay, that’s just cool.

  4. #4 Ahnald Brownshwagga the Monkey
    April 20, 2009

    Giant hummingbirds would be terrifying, especially if they thought humans were delicious.

  5. #5 Colonel Molerat
    April 20, 2009

    Do they stall when they land? That one seems to be bringing its wings up sharply, as if stalling, but I thought that this was only what larger birds do?
    But then again, my combined knowledge of aerodynamics and ornithology is little more than my combined experience of Chuck Yeager’s Air Combat and Duckhunt.

  6. #6 Lorkas
    April 20, 2009

    They don’t land when they feed, Colonel Molerat. They hover in front of the flower or feeder.

  7. #7 Colonel Molerat
    April 20, 2009

    Then again, since hummingbirds flap their wings, the aerodynamics will be very different to that of planes and large, gliding birds.
    What’s the technical definition of a stall? Is it possible for a hummingbird to stall? Do they use it when landing?

    I should be doing work instead of this. But I’m stalling.

  8. #8 Other Daniel
    April 20, 2009

    I’m just impressed that all those hummingbirds could fly in such tight formation.

    Oh. Never mind.

  9. #9 Libbie
    April 20, 2009

    Yay! I love hummingbirds. They have so many cool adaptations.

  10. #10 Alex
    April 20, 2009

    Wow, that’s some pretty bad photoshop.

  11. #11 Didac Lopez-Martinez
    April 20, 2009

    Those hummingbirds are obviously metazoans but it is hard to regard them as vertebrates. They are so similar to butterflies such as bee moths (Macroglossum stellatarum) when they collect nectar (video)!

  12. #12 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 20, 2009

    Wow, that’s some pretty bad photoshop.

    What part? The blurred background?

    I guess one wonders if the combination of the four shots caused the bokeh to look like that or if that is manually done.

  13. #13 Alex
    April 20, 2009

    Look above hummingbird #2, near the top of the picture (easier on the original image). You can see the mark of the perfectly circular clone stamp.

    That, and the oddly disappearing leaves at the hummingbird’s feet.

    And the hummingbird-shaped light areas that magically appear behind each bird.

  14. #14 BruceW
    April 20, 2009

    Nice sequence of shots. Is there any way to get the camera settings? I’m assuming a wide aperture with a fast shutter speed to get the wings as clear as they are.

    @#4: I’m not worried about giant hummers, you can hear them coming…no, the giant bird to worry about is the chicken…when it’s feeding time, mine make Terror Birds look like amateurs.

  15. #15 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 20, 2009

    Ahhh yep. Looking at the original I see it. That’s not bokeh that’s post for sure.

    Still regardless, it’s good sequence capture, just some careless post production.

  16. #16 Ahnald Brownshwagga the Monkey
    April 20, 2009

    Giant Chickens would be scary as hell, but a giant hummingbird’s flapping wings would be uber-destructive. If you’ve seen Rodan, you know what I mean.

    …I’ve seen too many Japanese Monster movies.

  17. #17 Dr.Woody
    April 20, 2009

    Then again, since hummingbirds flap their wings

    “flap” is such an inelegant word for this wonder of nature.

    Say, rather, they ‘oscillate’ their wings???

  18. #18 Nangleator
    April 20, 2009

    Ahnuld @#4… Don’t give the SciFi channel any ideas.

    Oh, hell. I guess animators need to work, too.

    Humming Hell!
    Small town sheriff, Zack Hero (Brad Johnson) faces down a threat to humanity with the help of Dr. Hot Chick, the 20-year-old (PhD, double-D) world expert on hummingbirds from the United States Department of Hummingbirds. Can they save the town and the big flower expo, despite the crooked mayor’s refusal to evacuate the town…

  19. #19 Hank Fox
    April 20, 2009

    That’s actually four different birds, practicing tandem flying for a soon-coming takeover of Earth.

    You humans will laugh no more when the needle-sharp beaks of our hover-soldiers pause inches from your torpid mammalian faces, poised to suck the sweet nectar from your plump, juicy eyeballs.

    Plus, stop hording all the espresso.

    ….

    I remember hearing about a woman who was terrified of hummingbirds, and would run screaming indoors whenever she saw one, convinced they would deliberately blind people.

  20. #20 Epikt
    April 20, 2009

    BruceW:

    Nice sequence of shots. Is there any way to get the camera settings? I’m assuming a wide aperture with a fast shutter speed to get the wings as clear as they are.

    A wide aperture also gives a shallow depth of field, resulting in the blurred background.

  21. #21 JBlilie
    April 20, 2009
    Wow, that’s some pretty bad photoshop.
    What part? The blurred background?

    I guess one wonders if the combination of the four shots caused the bokeh to look like that or if that is manually done.

    The blobs of undifferentiated green behind each figure looks too obvious. If they’d made the fake bokeh blend into the background better or even just varied the look of the fake bokeh …

    Looks pretty cool and real until you think, hey, this is photo-shopped and look at it more carefully. Then it shouts at you.

    Seem to me that the goal of photo-shopping in a case like this is to make it look real (not photo-shopped.) Leaving big thumbprints on it is not so good.

  22. #22 Edgar
    April 20, 2009

    Well, i love to see the Macroglossum moths hovering front a flowering bush, and how look alike the bee hummingbirds, even with similar color patterns and a mock up fan shaped tail……

  23. #23 Menyambal
    April 20, 2009

    I’m not complaining about the composite image. I don’t think the goal was to make it look “real”. It’s just a sequence of photos, put on the same frame to give a better idea of how a hummingbird flies. The only way to get a similar sequence without compositing is to have a black background and a strong, fast flash. It’s about the bird, not the processing.

    (If you click on the photo, you’ll find a set of other animal pictures, including some tigers fighting. That photo is manipulated to look “real”, but just fails, which does bother me.)

    The image clearly shows that the hummingbird is twisting his wings for lift on the backstroke. That is so cool.

    Thanks, Mary.

  24. #24 Glen Davidson
    April 20, 2009

    I do mind the photoshop manipulation, because hummingbirds do not flock, or fly in formation.

    When I first saw it (before recognizing manipulation) I thought of how likely it might be that one of the hummingbirds would get a beak in its back. They’re exquisite little birds, but they’re as territorial as they come, and are not above violence.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/6mb592

  25. #25 Ron Sullivan
    April 20, 2009

    I’ve got the San Francisco Falconcam in another window and the chatter from assorted birds (unfortunately a lot of them English sparrows) from the real window next to me. Birdy Monday!

    Hat tip to Mary.

  26. #26 LtStorm
    April 20, 2009

    I can’t find the video that horrified me of hummingbirds. It was a guy feeding them from the palm of his hand, and you could hear them BUZZING like giant bees when they’d fly near the camera.

  27. #27 Natasha Yar-Routh
    April 20, 2009

    Congratulations Nangleator, you have just made a perfect Hollywood pitch. I can see it being picked up by either SciFi or Chiller.

  28. #28 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 20, 2009

    When I first saw it (before recognizing manipulation) I thought of how likely it might be that one of the hummingbirds would get a beak in its back. They’re exquisite little birds, but they’re as territorial as they come, and are not above violence.

    We’re getting into super analysis nerdville here but the point of the photo is not to trick anyone into thinking those are separate birds. I’m pretty damn sure it to show a sequence of a bird coming to a feeder.

    Granted the person running the wacom tablet (and probably not even that) has some poor skills and the photo suffers from it. Though it’s still pretty cool.

  29. #29 silence
    April 20, 2009

    Rev. BigDumbChimp: it might not even show that. It most likely shows a single bird hovering in a single position, with subsequent editing used to make it look like the bird is landing.

    Lorkas: While hummingbirds can and do hover while feeding, the Anna’s hummingbirds will gladly land if a perch is available and if they’re not worried about being attacked by another hummingbird.

  30. #30 Menyambal
    April 20, 2009

    It never occurred to me that anybody was going to think that it was four different birds. Huh.

    Hummingbirds startle me, with their loud, sudden buzzing and their pointy bills (so pointy-pointy). But I once got to hold the base of a feeder long enough for a hummingbird to land on my fingertip.

    Thanks for the FalconCam, Ron!

  31. #31 Darren Garrison
    April 20, 2009

    For a second there, I was jealous– until I realized it was a composite. I’ve tried many times to get a photo of two hummer at once, but there’s always one who tirelessly guards the feeder, sitting on a twig on a nearby tree watching for anyone else to approach the feeder. When another hummer does, he (she?) swoops down and attacks, chittering all the way. I’ve never had a quick enough shutter finger to catch two of them in the same frame (at a decent level of cropped detail– I suppose if I had a 50 megapixel camera, I could have had some good crops from wide shots.)

    The aggressive hummer also wasn’t too fond of the yellow jackets that also visited the feeder. He (or she) would catch and kill them. Which led to one of my favorite photos that I’ve ever taken (cropped to detail):

    http://s313.photobucket.com/albums/ll394/darrengarrison/?action=view&current=hummer_yellowjacket.jpg

    Here’s another one that could have been great but sadly was out of focus. It still tells an interesting story, though:

    http://s313.photobucket.com/albums/ll394/darrengarrison/?action=view&current=hummer_yellowjacket_2.jpg

    I take the photos with a 1/1000th second shutter, F8, flash on (even in bright sunlight), and manual focus preset for the approximate distance to the feeder.

  32. #32 Natasha Yar-Routh
    April 20, 2009

    Hummingbirds are very aggressive little birds. I once watched one dive bomb a cat on a fence until the cat finally ran for it. The hummer was so fast the cat couldn’t react fast enough to defend it’s self.

  33. #33 LtStorm
    April 20, 2009

    Hummingbirds are very aggressive little birds. I once watched one dive bomb a cat on a fence until the cat finally ran for it. The hummer was so fast the cat couldn’t react fast enough to defend it’s self.

    Further evidence for my irrational fear of anything that buzzes when it flies.

  34. #34 Anonymous
    April 20, 2009

    @ Lorkas
    Of course! I knew that as well!… Drat it! There I was with the image in my head of a classic English-garden bird-table, covered with humming birds pecking around…
    I think it was the back stroke that looked to me like the bird raising its winds to stall.

  35. #35 Jadehawk
    April 20, 2009

    Hummingbirds are very aggressive little birds. I once watched one dive bomb a cat on a fence until the cat finally ran for it. The hummer was so fast the cat couldn’t react fast enough to defend it’s self.

    holy crap!

    anyway, nice shot, not so nice photoshopping :-p

  36. #36 The Mad LOLScientist, FCD
    April 20, 2009

    My verdict after blowing the photo up huge:

    [1] It’s all the same bird, a multiple exposure rather than an assemblage.

    [2] Left side of photo and areas immediately next to the bird is unretouched. You can see greenery in front of the feeder, and it takes an expert to ‘shop that.

    [3] Horribly horrible ‘shopped bokeh everywhere else. FAIL.

    [4] Photo ruined by horribly horrible ‘shopped bokeh. The natural DOF as at the left side of the image would have been far less distracting.

    [5] Some people (myself included, I’ll cop to that) need a lot more ‘shop practice before letting their manipulated images out in public.

    p.s. I totally *HEART* hummingburds. I could watch them all day. And no, I’ve never heard of one stalling. Kind of hard to do when you can fly backwards, sideways, and straight up as well as frontwards.

  37. #37 SaraJ
    April 20, 2009

    Awww, I love hummers! We have a feeder in the yard, and they sit out there and taunt my cat. It’s pretty funny.

  38. #38 Sili
    April 20, 2009

    Ah, Dr.Woody,

    I see you’re familiar with technique for titillating an ocelot.

    Why isn’t there any recipes for the world’s most regressive turducken yet? Or just pickled hummingbirds?

  39. #39 SaraJ
    April 20, 2009

    That chirping noise hummingbirds make is made by their wings. I think that’s pretty darn cool.

  40. #40 Sheri Williamson
    April 20, 2009

    *ahem*

    Yes, hummingbirds do perch to feed, and even at some flowers.

    Their flight splits the difference aerodynamically between normal birds and hovering insects, generating 75% of the lift on the forward stroke and 25% on the backward stroke. AFAIK they never stall.

    They have the highest mass-specific metabolic rates of any vertebrate, rivaled only by insects.

    They can drink up to 5 times their weight in liquid each day and up to a third of their body weight at a sitting, feats matched only by a few college students. This makes coloring their sugar water with synthetic dyes (as seen in the photo) a very bad idea.

    While some species do make mechanical sounds with vibrating wing and/or tail feathers, they have perfectly serviceable voices that they use primarily to hurl invective at other hummingbirds (though many species also sing, and some can even mimic other birds).

    Despite their Disney-esque public image, gram for gram they’re some of the most vicious creatures on earth. My husband was quoted by an article in Natural History as saying that if they were the size of ravens no one would be safe in the woods.

    There actually is a Giant Hummingbird (Patagona gigas), but at only 22 cm and 20 gm it’s not exactly a hovering, needle-billed Godzilla.

    I now return you to the previously scheduled comments already in progress.

    /pedantry

  41. #41 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 20, 2009

    There actually is a Giant Hummingbird (Patagona gigas), but at only 22 cm and 20 gm it’s not exactly a hovering, needle-billed Godzilla.

    Favorite description of the day.

  42. #42 Watchman
    April 20, 2009

    Awww, I love hummers!

    Wrong thread.

  43. #43 Diego
    April 20, 2009

    I have this crazy officemate from St. Kitts. She is stock full of just plain wrong all the time. For example, I showed her photos I had taken in Costa Rica of a perched Magnificent Hummingbird, which is a particularly large hummingbird. She said, “No, that’s no hummingbird. I’ve seen hummingbirds on my island. Hummingbirds never sit down.”

    “Actually, they do perch. They don’t fly all the time.” I said

    “NO! They CAN’T.” She rejoins, “Hummingbirds don’t have feet.”

    I started to say something about how Apodiformes if a little misleading before realizing that, as usual, I was overshooting the mark in the conversation. Sometimes I argue with her, but often it’s not worth it. She can believe twenty different false and even contradictory things at once, and it’s hard to argue with that. :)

  44. #44 Jim1138
    April 20, 2009

    Also, I have seen a hummingbird grab the beak of another with its feet and body slam the first into the ground.

    I once saw a small dust devil in our back yard. I went back to work on the computer and then realized it was not windy. Looking back I realized it was two hummingbirds with their talons locked on the ground “flying” in circles. After a few seconds one let go and flew off, the other sat on the ground, dazed. After a few seconds, it then flew off.

    If one bird does not leave the feeder when warned, it can expect to get claws in the back or a butt poke with a sharp beak.

  45. #45 kamaka
    April 20, 2009

    It seems hummingbirds have a sense of smell. From what is known, this is an unusual sensory faculty in birds.

    How would I know this?

    I’ve had them show up in my face several times whilst drinking Pete’s Wicked Strawberry Blonde Ale.

    And no, the little lushes didn’t seem too interested in eye-gouging.

  46. #46 llewelly
    April 20, 2009

    Giant hummingbirds would be terrifying, especially if they thought humans were delicious.

    In Minnesota, they have mosquitoes that are larger than hummingbirds. Much larger, in fact.

  47. #47 Darren Garrison
    April 21, 2009

    I’ve attempted to correct the problems in the photo as best as I can. Give this a glance:

    http://s313.photobucket.com/albums/ll394/darrengarrison/various/?action=view&current=hummingbirds.jpg

  48. #48 Tassie Devil
    April 21, 2009

    Oooh!

    Bokeh, yellowjacket and a new (and nicer) use for ‘hummer’!

    *pats new words into place in mental dictionary*

    …and the bird is cute, too. And Darren, your picture of the hummingbird catching the wasp…ahem…yellowjacket, is even better.

  49. #49 Darren Garrison
    April 21, 2009

    Tassie Devil– you can see some nice examples of software-based (as opposed to what the camera actually sees) bokeh on the page for the filter I use for it:

    http://www.alienskin.com/bokeh/examples.aspx

    I really like the look you can get from tilt/shift simulations with bokeh:

    http://images.google.com/images?hl=en&ie=UTF-8&num=100&q=tilt%20shift&sa=N&safe=off&tab=wi&um=1

    A few days back I was playing at the miniature-faking effect with a photo I took myself, if you care to see more examples:

    http://s313.photobucket.com/albums/ll394/darrengarrison/bokeh%20gears/

    You’ve never heard of a yellow jacket? Where are you from? (Okay, maybe Tasmania.)

  50. #50 erin
    April 21, 2009

    if you want a bunch of hummingbirds in your yard (assuming that they exist in your locality – I don’t know what their range is), plant Columbines!
    I didn’t know it when I planted them (I just think they’re really beautiful, with the striking duo-colorings, and the cool shape, and they grow taller than most of my other flowers, which looks really nice), but they’re amazing hummingbird attractants. I live in Oakland, CA, and every day, there are tons of hummingbirds in my garden, whereas I’d only seen them rarely in the years previous to planting columbines.
    You’ll have cool flowers and get to see cool birds!

  51. #51 Anonymous
    April 21, 2009

    “Posted by: Anonymous | April 20, 2009 2:18 PM

    @ Lorkas
    Of course! I knew that as well!… Drat it! There I was with the image in my head of a classic English-garden bird-table, covered with humming birds pecking around…
    I think it was the back stroke that looked to me like the bird raising its winds to stall.”

    Posted by me, by the way (forgot to enter username).

    No hummingbirds here. Pigeons and seagulls though. They don’t hum. They know the lyrics.

  52. #52 astrounit
    April 21, 2009

    Of course, this fellow isn’t coming in for a “landing” but more like an “in-flight refueling”. There’d typically be dozens of wing-beats from right to left, and hundreds more for a few seconds at the feeder. The individual quick-exposures stopping the action are well done IF it documents a single-event approach. But I doubt it. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of inept photoshopping on the background. It looks like the same individual bird, but it’s probably a composite showing 4 separate return missions.

    Still nice though. At least you get 4 for 1.

    Hummingbirds are ace flying machines. They remind me of those little plastic propeller toys one launches with something that resembled a space-gun-like contraption we used to play with in the 60′s. Hummingbirds are like that – almost all “propeller”. When they zoom they even LOOK like those. They even SOUND like those.

  53. #53 Colonel Molerat
    April 22, 2009

    “Posted by: Anonymous | April 21, 2009 3:51 AM

    “Posted by: Anonymous | April 20, 2009 2:18 PM

    @ Lorkas
    Of course! I knew that as well!… Drat it! There I was with the image in my head of a classic English-garden bird-table, covered with humming birds pecking around…
    I think it was the back stroke that looked to me like the bird raising its winds to stall.”

    Posted by me, by the way (forgot to enter username).

    No hummingbirds here. Pigeons and seagulls though. They don’t hum. They know the lyrics.”

    Drat!!! In my clarification after forgetting to enter my username, I forgot to enter my username…

  54. #54 pray11342
    April 23, 2009

    Thanks to all pointing out the digital alterations. Come to think of it, I never saw hummingbirds in a Blue Angels formation like that.

    Many years ago, in the days of Kodachrome, I once entered some of my amateur photos in a now defunct “Michigan” tourist magazine.

    When the winner’s photos were published, imagine my surprise to see a two page spread of a gorgeous full moon, taken with a telephoto lens. It was suspended beautifully in the sky, just above a magnificent sunset over Lake Michigan. Sumbitch took second place.

    I didn’t renew my subscription.

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