Soaring up to 100 feet in the air and then zooming back to earth, leveling out and flying at approximately 51 mph, a hummingbird’s courtship display is both fascinating to watch and difficult to photograph. That’s what several dozen photographers were challenged with on March 4 at the Arboretum at the University of California Santa Cruz’s Hummingbird Days event.
Although the hummingbirds can be seen beyond the first weekend in March, the initial few days is one of the bigger fundraising weekends for the Arboretum.
Activities taking place over the weekend included: a bird listening walk focusing on listening for birds, instead of just watching them; a discussion about hummingbirds and the plants that attract them; an exhibit of photographs of hummingbirds; children’s crafts with a hummingbird theme; hummingbird walks; bird watching walks and tours including tours geared for children. The gift shop and nursery were also selling hummingbird plants, jewelry, books, and gifts.
Between March 7-12, the activities included a hummingbird themed photography exhibit and self-guided tours along the Hummingbird Trail. Hummingbird plants and paraphernalia remained on sale at the arboretum gift shop and nursery.
The number of hummingbirds inhabiting the grounds and putting on a show several times per hour is amazing. Merely hanging a hummingbird feeder outside your window will do a good job of attracting one or two hummingbirds, but that pales in comparison to what awaits at UCSC’s arboretum.
If you decide to visit next year’s Hummingbird Days, there are a few helpful hints to get the best photographs possible. Even though hummingbirds might seem like fickle creatures, when they fly away from whatever branch they’re perched on, they’ll return to the same branch a few minutes later. Shooting pictures takes two different approaches. If the desired picture is of a hummingbird at rest and perched on a branch, a relatively large zoom lens is the basic requirement. Hummingbirds are extremely small and that small size means a lens of 200mm or less will result in a small picture of a small bird. Trying to capture a picture of a hummingbird in flight, such as when it is feeding, requires a lot of patience and alertness.
For more information on the UCSC Arboretum, visit their website, www.arboretum.ucsc.edu. For more information on the Hummingbird Days, please visit their website: www.arboretum.ucsc.edu/events/humbird2012.