Costa's Hummingbird, Male, (c) Photo by Steve Kaye

Odd Quirk in Bird Photography

Bird photography has an odd quirk that sets it apart from other types of photography.


Costa's Hummingbird, Male, (c) Photo by Steve Kaye, in Blog Post: "Odd Part of Bird Photography"

Costa’s Hummingbird, Male


So, what’s odd about bird photography?

It is: You often find what you need while you’re looking for something else.

I traveled to Madera Canyon, Arizona, hoping to take photos of the Plain-capped Starthroat. According to bar charts on eBird.org, this hummingbird was supposed to be in Southern Arizona during late July.

But apparently the bird didn’t read these charts. Perhaps it encountered a flight delay. Or maybe it changed its plans.

In any case, I did not find a Plain-capped Starthroat. And I was there, looking every day, all day long for a week.

Instead, I found the birds in this post, each showing a beautiful gorget.

For example, a Costa’s Hummingbird flew in and put on a late evening show, posing for photos until dark.


Broad-billed Hummingbird, Male, Juvenile, (c) Photo by Steve Kaye, in Blog Post: "Odd Part of Bird Photography"

Broad-billed Hummingbird, Male, Juvenile


Next, I found this first-year Broad-billed Hummingbird, who will look like an adult male next year.


Rufous Hummingbird, Male, © Photo by Steve Kaye, in Blog Post: "Odd Part of Bird Photography"

Rufous Hummingbird, Male


Then there was this Rufous Hummingbird, who raced back and forth, terrorizing the other hummingbirds. Eventually, it paused to rest and show its gorget for this photo.


Magnificent Hummingbird, Male, © Photo by Steve, in Blog Post: "Odd Part of Bird Photography"

Rivoli’s (Magnificent) Hummingbird, Male


I also wanted to take a better good flight photo of the Rivoli’s* Hummingbird. But that was hindered by frequent rain, cloudy skies, and uncooperative birds.

Instead, I took this photo, which is now my best bad photo of a flying Rivoli’s male.

And so what’s the lesson here?

As in life, we must show up. And then we often find what we need, even if it happens to be different from what we wanted.

Thus, I plan to come back to find more unexpected gifts.

Much success,

Steve Kaye

Bird News*

On July 5, 2017, The American Ornithological Society (AOS) changed the name of the Magnificent Hummingbird to the Rivoli’s Hummingbird, which had been its name before the AOS changed its name to the Magnificent Hummingbird.

If this seems odd, read about the birds’ reaction to these name changes. See: This Really Made the Birds Mad


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8 Comments
  • Susan Bulger
    Posted at 14:30h, 09 August

    Steve, as I scroll back quickly through the photos I see you found the gold at the end of the rainbow. Thanks for sharing it.

  • Karl Schmitt
    Posted at 14:44h, 09 August

    Steve: You should have come just a bit further south, (and east)… to our lush and beautiful valley along the San Pedro River. That elusive Plain-capped Starthroat just does not like to venture very far into Arizona. The canyons just to the west of us are more probable sites to catch this visitor: Ash Canyon (Mary Jo Ballator’s yard) or even sometimes at Beatty’s orchard. It even made an impressive stopover at our blooming aloe’s by the pool in June! a couple of years ago Go South, young man, Go South! LOL
    Karl and Patrick, Casa de San Pedro.

  • Bob Chianese
    Posted at 17:09h, 09 August

    Nature gives us surprises and that is a good thing.

  • jerry young
    Posted at 19:02h, 09 August

    Outstanding photos. Seek, and maybe you will find. Thank you.

  • Steve Kaye
    Posted at 19:06h, 09 August

    Thank you Karl,

    The Casa de San Pedro is a fantastic B&B. Their service, lodging, and breakfasts are wonderful. I’ve stayed there and highly recommend it.

  • Kris Risley
    Posted at 19:47h, 10 August

    I love your hummingbird photos. You inspired my husband and me to go hummingbird “hunting” in areas around Tucson. We could only go in March, which was very early, but we did see some species we had never seen before in Ramsey Canyon including the Costas and broad-billed. The one I had hoped to see the most was the Magnificent and just as I was about to give up God sent a beautiful male my way. I hope to go back some year in July, during peak season and see a lot more.

  • Tony Gonzalez
    Posted at 15:07h, 11 August

    Great photos. Got a near-new (used) camera. I’ll be going to the Fullerton Arboretum next week. Maybe I’ll see you there.

  • marty herde
    Posted at 10:40h, 14 August

    Beautiful hummer photos, even the “bad” Rivoli’s (Magnificent is still a much better name)!

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