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California / Hummingbirds / Nature / Photography / Wildlife


Not one of the most influential rock bands of the ’60s. Not a denizen of a prison yard — after whom the band was named. No.

These birds visited my yard on Saturday morning.

Ever vigilant, I was there. I was particularly on the lookout for Anna’s hummingbirds, but the Hutton’s Vireo (I believe) above posed for me so nicely had to include him/her.

But for the rest, I refer to — and alter — the Book of Simon:

Was an April day
Hummingbirds were there for all to see
And they did hover long
Putting on a show for me

This guy sat on a branch surveying the realm. He seemed to have all the time in the world.


Then he saw me pointing this big black tubular thing at him. He apparently didn’t like it and proved his displeasure by posturing in a defensive / aggressive show. Ducks do it. Geese do it. Even agitated swans do it. But hummingbirds? He’s soooo bad. He kept at it for quite some time, but finally gave up and flew away when he realized I was not going to be intimdated.


But he was at his best while hovering. He came back after a few minutes, forgave me for existing, and put on his one-bird show.



Was an April day . . .

Technical note: His iridescent red head almost certainly goes outside the visible spectrum. It sure plays havoc with a camera sensor. I carefully checked the camera’s RGB histogram as I was shooting and sure enough: the red channel was extremely blown out in the first few shots. I had to underexpose between two-thirds of a stop to two stops to not over-expose the red channel. Even then, in RAW processing I had to bring the overall exposure down another half-stop and dial the highligets down twenty to fifty percent to get the red to look like what I saw. I have no idea what the red feather’s pigment is — but whatever it is, it’s powerful stuff.

(Nikon D500, Tamron 100–400mm F/4.5-6.3 Di VC USD. RAW processing in DxO PhotoLab 2.2; Editing in Adobe Photoshop.)

The Author

California based fine-art photographer featuring abstract, impressionist, and minimalist seascapes — near and distant — and floral-based images. Fine-art photography can be seen at www.amagaphoto.com All original images on this blog are copyright 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021 Michael Scandling. All rights reserved. No images on this site may be copied, duplicated, reused, published, or re-purposed in any way without express permission from the copyright owner, Michael Scandling.


  1. You’ve done that little Vireo proud Michael, and as for the hummingbird, well.. the 2nd-to-last one is a DREAM and the texture in the last image is magic!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Quite the prolific guitarist incubator, that band. And quite a few nice looks at this lovely hummer and the vireo as well, Michael. That vireo’s over the shoulder glance and the lichen encrusted twig make a fine portrait.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Steve. I saw the Yardbirds with Jeff Beck in ’65. Opened my ears. Hendrix was two years late. The vireo was actually posing, I swear. And the hummer was a gift from the gods.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I rarely do bird photography and generally nothing smaller than a heron. Never saw the Yardbirds. Page with Led Zep and Clapton with Blind Faith. Didn’t get to all that many concerts


  3. Hummingbirds are really difficult to capture Michael – you’ve done it beautifully. I think you nailed the scarlet neck – no minor feat! Love the little vireo too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Tina. It’s amazing to me that 1/1000 sec still has lots of motion-blur wing drama. And with all that, the vireo is still one of my favorites.


  4. Carolle-Ann Mochernuk, says

    Michael – Really wonderful – loved your hummingbird show!!


  5. I couldn’t tell from your description if the camera was hand-held or mounted on a tripod. Either way, the photos are fabulous but hand-held would be virtuoso. A tip of the hat to you, sir.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks. Hand held. Way too much darting around for a tripod. ISO as high as 5,500. DxO’s Prime noise reduction is miraculous. Of course the D500’s noise is pretty low to begin with.


  6. Cathy Lane says

    I LOVE these shots of the hummingbird! Incredible!! I can’t believe you caught it in such a way. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Great shots of what has to be a darn tough customer to focus on! Amazing little creatures It’s almost hard to believe sometimes that hummingbirds really exist.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. melissabluefineart says

    I’m no expert, but I suspect it is done with mirrors. That is, on butterflies at least, colors are often the result of reflective structures within the cells that flash the colors that we see. Your photos are just breathtaking. In the vireo, I really love how the lichen on the twigs echo the subtle coloring of the bird. I love everything about that photo. And that cheeky hummingbird~wow!

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re right. See the link that Steve Schwartzman provided above. Hummingbird was indeed cheeky. That’s the word. But as arresting as the hummingbird is, the more I look, the more the vireo is my favorite as a photograph. Thanks very much for stopping by, and for your comments.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’ve been listening to a Warbling vireo the last few days. He’s somewhere high in the trees, invisible to me. They’re tough to spot! In your photo, I like the lichens on that craggy branch, and the expression, He’s puffed his feathers up for some reason….it’s great to see all that detail, yet the overall effect remains soft.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Well done! I once tried to shoot a green-blue one on Curacao; kept me busy for almost an hour before I got an acceptable shot.. 🙂


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