Hummingbirds at Cave Creek Ranch
Last week, I had to leave Sierra Vista before the hummingbirds arrived, this week I am in Portal, Arizona, still a bit ahead of the start of the prime season for these guys, but some of them are now on the scene at the Cave Creek Ranch.
As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper version, and to truly appreciate these little hummingbirds, you really should take a peak at the larger images.
Cave Creek Ranch sits alongside Cave Creek in a lush riparian environment conducive to many species or birds. They have several detached buildings providing lodging catering to birdwatchers. Above is the view from the porch of their office building that doubles as a viewing platform for some of the many feeders they have scattered throughout the property.
Photos cannot do justice to the imposing sight of these rock formations towering over Cave Creek.
I spent two five hour sessions here concentrating on just one hummingbird feeder located alongside the walkway to the office.
The Black-chinned hummingbird is a regular here and I must have taken a couple hundred shots of this species, trying to capture their little bit of color, the purple under the chin, but they are quite drab in relation to their more colorful cousins here, so I tended to concentrate on them.
I guess I would have to consider this species, the Broad-billed hummingbird, the little jewels of the hummingbird kingdom. The irridescent blues and greens, offset by the bright orange bill, make these guys some of the most spectacular of their kind.
A hummingbird I had never seen before is the Blue-throated hummingbird. Though not brilliantly colored, his size makes him standout amongst the crowd.
This is the largest of the hummingbirds found in the United States, measuring five inches in length, with a wing span of eight inches, a giant amongst his kind.
Though I have seen the Magnificent hummingbird once or twice in the past, I have never been in a spot where I had the chance to get some decent shots of this large hummingbird.
Thees guys are almost as large as the Blue-throated, but are definitely more colorful. The brilliant purple head is particularly difficult to capture in an image.
I am unable to use any kind of flash when taking these photos since most commercial operations like Cave Creek Ranch, understandingly, don’t want photographers ruining the birding experience for their other customers. Thus the only way to attempt to capture these birds brilliant color is to get them in the shade, where then adequate shutter speeds become a problem.
I include the above image to give you an adea of the size difference of these guys, the Blue-throated on the left and the Broad-billed on the right, taken at the same feeder.
While here in the Portal Area, I also took a trip out to Paradise to check out the feeding ( and banding ) station at the George Walker House. There I had a nice conversation with the owner while relaxing in one of the many sitting areas there amongst the various types of feeders. This is also a great spot to see birds, but isn’t really terribly conducive to photographing birds.
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