Who would have ever thought a hummingbird paradise could be found in Quebec! I'm mean sure, Quebec is known for awesome poutine and the soothing voice of Celine Dion, but hummingbirds?
I always knew Canada had hummingbirds but never fully understood the full story. When we think of hummingbirds, most might picture some type of lush tropical lush forest full of flowers, and that may true for most species, however for at least one , the Ruby Throated Hummingbird, they often prefer something much different.
Growing up, I'd seen every summer I'd see a few hummingbirds here and there but never more than a few a year and for no longer than a minute or two at a time. It wasn't until we moved to Honduras that I would see hummingbirds again, yet this time we were able to see them more often and for longer periods of time. I just figured they were rare back home and we only got super lucky to see em' from time to time. That view was completely destroyed last summer.
I'd heard stories from friends who claimed their cottage was being swarmed by hummingbirds, everyday, for the entire duration of summer. A self induced barrage of hummingbirds, sometimes up to 20 at a time coming to feed from dawn till dusk from man made feeders full of sugar water .
Now as a photographer, tales like these are like teasing a shark with a fish head or putting honey out to capture Whiney the Pooh. A very tantalizing opportunity indeed.
As the summer progressed, Covid-19 calmed down enough for the boarder between Ontario and Quebec to re-open and it was off to the races to go see if these tales held any water.
Without exaggerating...... as soon as we arrived at their cottage, we waited about as long as it takes Jeff Bezos to make $1,000 to witness the phenomenon.
Dawn and Brian have everything set up like a scene from the animated movie Epic. Their amazingly quaint chalet overlooks the lake with Chipmunks as plentiful as the birds.
I am convinced that the animals see us merely as gigantic stompers
and have magical little
stories of their own, just like in the movie, or maybe that's just all the Dawns delight I smoked.
The balcony that over looks the lake is where all the magic happens. This is where the hummingbird cathedral can be found. Two feeders and a little swing, that's it. That's all it takes in certain parts of the back country to create an oasis to attracted these tiny little forest fairies.
This type of hummingbird metropolis is the pinnacle for getting to know this awesome little species of bird. There is nothing like the noise that a dozen and half hummingbirds makes as they swoop through the air within centimeters of your head. As a photographer with so much action going on all you gotta do is stand around and wait for the timing to be right.
While observing these guys over 3 days it was pretty cool getting to know the patterns and the behaviors of the birds around the feeders. From what we could tell, each feeder had one male that was claiming territory over the feeder. Their bright red throat feathers makes it super easy to distinguish the males from the females. The males were both trying to dominate the feeders. They would let certain females come drink from their feeder while nipping at others they didn't want around. The males would sometimes just sit in the near by tree branches and watch guard of the feeders and intervene when they saw someone drinking from their feeder they didn't approve of.
Sometimes the feeders got really busy with countless birds around, sometimes they stayed empty for a minute or 2. Nevertheless, the action was as promised, non-stop with countless individuals frequenting these feeders all day long. Rain or shine the feeders never ceased to attract action.
A female coming in for a drink
The zipping and zooming of the birds playing allowed for some super special photo sessions. Paired with a proper serving of Dawn's delight, it is a nature photographers nirvana. At the beginning I opted for no flash, but after seeing they didn't care, and also how shitty the photos were without flash, I kept the flash on and never looked back.
You gotta fo 1/250 or higher if your camera can sync to a faster shutter speed.
The F-stop is up to you depending on light but since they move fast you can easily miss your mark if your aperture is too wide. The key to the game is patience, and when the time is prime....start firing like Trump was on the other end!
I easily took well over 1200 photos of them during our 3 days there and would take another 1200 in a heartbeat the next time we get the chance.
Thanks Dawn and Brian for the awesome memories , and hopefully we get to do it again soon 😊