Hummingbirds photographed in forest and garden habitat featuring birds at rest and in-flight
Hummingbirds are from the Apodiformes order of birds, Trochilidae family. I photographed them in a forest and garden habitat at the Asa Wright Nature Centre and Lodge, which is located in the forests of the Trinidad’s Northern Range. The centre has several trails and a large garden with vervain plants and Mimosa trees, which attract some species of hummingbird.
I’ve never had the opportunity to photograph hummingbirds before I went to Trinidad. I was expecting a challenge as they flap their wings at around 50 to 70 beats per second; the resulting noise that this makes, gives them their name. They can fly at 25-30 mph (40–50 kph), dive at 60 mph (95 kph), hover fly forwards and backwards. The smallest of the six species that I photographed was the Tufted Coquette, which is about 5 cm to 7 cm, weighs less than 3 g while the largest was the Black-throated Mango at 11 cm and weighing mere 7 g.
Most hummingbirds have brilliant coloured plumage resulting from a combination of pigmentation feathers and iridescent feathers that make up their plumage. Iridescent colours are the result of light diffraction, which changes with both viewing angle and lighting conditions. At certain angles, the gorget (throat feathers) appears black with no reflected light but as the viewing angle changes the refracted light becomes visible resulting in a shimmering iridescent display. Images in the photo galleries below show iridescent throat feather effect both the Tufted Coquette and Ruby Topaz. Only the male hummingbirds have brilliant iridescent throat feathers, which they use for display. Iridescence often results in the metallic sheen.
I saw both the male and female tufted coquette (Lophornis ornatus) hummingbirds drinking nectar from both the purple and red varieties of vervain (Stachytarpheta jamaicensis) part of the Verbenaceae family of plants that is native throughout the Caribbean. The male tufted coquette has the shaggy crest with orange check feathers; the female is less spectacular lacking both the crest and orange check feathers. Despite their speed and size, these little birds soon became a favourite of mine to photograph. It was more difficult to find them perched than flying.
Ruby-topaz, Blue-chinned Sapphire and Black-throated Mango
Both the ruby-topaz (Chrysolampis mosquitus) and blue-chinned sapphire (Chlorestes notata notata) are similar sized 7 cm hummingbirds while the black-throated mango (Anthracothorax nigricollis) at 11 cm was one of the largest that I was able to photograph. These three species were more elusive than others I photographed. I found one area where the ruby-topaz visited in the late morning and early afternoon to feed on purple vervain. With patience and returning frequently, I was able to capture a few images of the bird feeding, flying and at rest. The blue-chinned sapphire and black-throated Mango images were opportunistic.
White-necked Jacobin and White-chested Emerald
The white-necked jacobin (Florisuga mellivora) was common visiting nectar feeders and at 11 cm, was one of the largest that I encountered. I was pleased to capture the immature male white-necked jacobin feeding on Mimosa flowers.
The white-chested emerald (Amazilia brevirostris) is smaller being 9.5 cm, seen perched on vervain and feeding on yellow flowers.
Featured hummingbird non-passerines, Apodiformes order
Trochilidae (Hummingbird) family
Male and Female Tufted Coquette Hummingbird (Lophornis ornatus)
Male Ruby-topaz Hummingbird (Chrysolampis mosquitus)
Male and Female Blue-chinned Sapphire (Chlorestes notata notata)
Male and Female Black-throated Mango (Anthracothorax nigricollis)