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Lens: Pentax-A 400/5.6 Camera: K10D Photo Location: NC, USA 
Posted By: baro-nite, 04-30-2012, 09:35 AM

Yesterday I noticed that a Ruby-throated Hummingbird has started a nest in a tree in front of my house. I expect I'll be posting quite a few shots of her and her soon-to-be burgeoning family, so rather than spamming other threads with them I decided to start this one.

Cloudy this morning but there were a few glimmers of sun at just the right time to peek in. Also, I added a flash at another window, below right, to supplement the on-camera flash and to help give some modeling to the lighting.


There's no place like home (57% crop)
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04-30-2012, 09:38 AM   #2
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Thread title is because Ruby-throated Hummingbirds do not pair bond, and the female builds the nest and raises the chicks alone.


Home improvement (100% crop)
04-30-2012, 10:30 AM   #3
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Nice captures Jeff. My feeder is ready and waiting for their arrival which should any day now.--charliezap
04-30-2012, 10:34 AM   #4
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Nice series Jeff - should be lots of photo opps here.

04-30-2012, 04:39 PM   #5
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Jeff, these are wonderful photos, really shows the detail of the nest that they build. I think the birds lay two eggs, can't wait to see the little guys. TFS, Bob
04-30-2012, 05:17 PM   #6
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Thanks all for stopping by! I feel like an expectant godfather.

QuoteOriginally posted by Bob Harris Quote
I think the birds lay two eggs
That's what I've read. I don't think she's laid yet; she's still adding to the nest and is away quite a lot. On the other hand, this evening I've seen her sitting quietly for longer intervals than I had seen earlier. Unluckily for me I have a heavy travel schedule starting in a couple of weeks, which may be right around when the eggs hatch. But I'll have some time at home between trips and will be up in the attic with the camera when I can! The chicks will apparently be nest bound for up to 3 weeks so I should have plenty of opportunities.

Update, 2012/05/01: Wow, is she ever busy this morning. A group of Tufted Titmice have stopped by, and she is making it clear that this is her tree (and it's a fair sized tree, about 16-18 meters tall).

Last edited by baro-nite; 05-01-2012 at 04:23 AM. Reason: update
05-01-2012, 09:08 AM   #7
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Some sunshine this morning, and luckily there is a period where the light makes its way in to the nest.

Not quite in focus with this one, so has some selective over-sharpening applied:

Bringing in some more spider silk (in other shots you can see how the nest is secured to the branch with spider silk)

Not sure what she has here:


But it's all part of the plan:


And a good wriggle to pack things in:
05-01-2012, 09:54 AM   #8
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This is wonderful. Such a great opportunity for us all to see. Thanks so much for posting!

05-02-2012, 10:30 AM   #9
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Another mainly sunny morning, I've been working on my shooting setup. I was losing too many shots to missed focus and/or camera shake, and my K10D lacks live view and the JPEG preview is too small to really tell. So, for the first time, I've tried tethered shooting. Plus I added a shelf by my attic window, as a camera platform for use with bean bags. The tethered shooting allows me to nail down the focus with a series of test shots, and the platform provides enough stability that I'm getting good sharpness at 1/180 sec (max sync speed). I also set up both my zoom-capable flash units for more-or-less on-axis fill. They barely get there even at full power and zoom, so I've ordered a "Better Beamer" unit for each. It's developing into quite an amusing setup, up there in my unfinished attic. Lucky for me that morning has the best light, because it is roasting hot up there by mid-afternoon.

Some shots from this morning. The first is uncropped, just to show the full view with the Pentax-A 1:5.6 400mm, and the rest are 50% crops.


Good morning!


Ooh, great find! (w/ "dodge & burn" applied in PP)


House proud


A pre-flight yoga session (w/ "dodge & burn" applied in PP)


'Bye for now
05-02-2012, 10:43 AM   #10
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Jeff, that is quite a setup you have, maybe she will name one of the babies after you. Wonderful photos to view, great job with excellent results. The nest that I saw up close years back almost appeared to be of a paper-mache construction, lots of work building these nests. Thanks for sharing, looking for more. Bob
05-02-2012, 11:00 AM   #11
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Oh, this is just so cool! Thanks for sharing this with us... I can't wait to see more!!
05-03-2012, 09:06 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Bob Harris Quote
lots of work building these nests
She continues to add to it, inside and out, even while (according to my guess) incubating the eggs. I didn't see her defending the tree this morning, but then again there weren't any other birds around -- they may have already gotten the message.

QuoteOriginally posted by tessfully Quote
Oh, this is just so cool!
I'm having a great time with it; thanks for stopping by.

From this morning:


Spider silk is duct tape for hummingbirds

05-05-2012, 06:31 AM   #13
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My "Better Beamer" flash extenders came in yesterday and I tried them out this morning. They definitely give the flash heads more reach; whether or not I get the advertised two extra stops I haven't tried measuring. But this allowed me to go back to having one off-axis flash (that one is quite a bit farther away) and also to use half power on the on-axis fill, ISO 100 @ f/8.

Some 100% crops from this morning. These leaves are beginning to concern me. With luck I'll be able to keep shooting from some window, if not this one.


Foundation work





She was very active this morning, bringing in more lichens, fluffy stuff, etc. She was about as active as the first day I saw her, which makes me doubt my earlier guess that she hadn't yet laid then. So for all I know the chicks could hatch any time now.
05-05-2012, 06:42 AM   #14
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Nice Shots
05-05-2012, 09:08 AM   #15
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you can definitely tell a difference with the flash extender, more great shots. Nature is sure odd sometimes, the female Ruby Throat has to build the nest, defend her territory all while laying the eggs and occasionally going off to feed which leaves the nest unguarded. Poor thing is going to have a nervous breakdown.
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