I have a LOT of trouble managing the number of photographs on my computer. It seems that at least once a week my trusty MacBook Pro gives me a message that makes my heart sink:
Your computer's hard drive is nearly full. Please delete some files or it's gonna crash like last time and you'll be reduced to a pile of blubbering flesh because you've lost everything on your computer. And by the way, when are you going to start doing regular back-ups? I don't know why you have me so clogged up with your bird images. They are really not that good. Any photographer worth his or her salt would trash at least 96% of the shots you are currently keeping. Loser! OK I'm done now.
And then there are those times, like this morning, when I'm trolling through a recent batch of images downloaded from my camera and I come across an image that may not be perfect in terms of focus, composition, or subject matter, but it's still cool enough to keep.
Like the two images in this post.
I'm fairly certain that Phoebe took them with my short-lens camera, shooting out our kitchen window. I'm thrilled that she likes to take pictures—and she's pretty good at it. I thought that these two hummer shots were nothing special, that is, until I noticed that the camera captured just enough of the hummingbird's wing motion to hint at the horizontal figure-8 pattern each flap of the wings describes. In Phoebe's photos, you can see faint lines where the camera caught the edge of the wing for a fraction of a second.
This unique motion not only provides the bird great lift it also allows it to hover in place, to fly backwards, and upside down. Sources state varying rates of wingbeats per second for hummingbirds. Bigger hummers beat their wings more slowly, smaller ones more rapidly. Our ruby-throated hummingbird female here is probably beating her wings at a rate between 50 and 60 beats per second. Yes, per second (and this is not my computer talking). With power and speed like that it's no wonder they can hover and fly like tiny buzz bombs. And it's more understandable why they need such a high-energy diet to keep their motors running.
You can watch a movie of this wing stroke pattern here on Hummingbirds.net.
Now it's time for me to dump more photos off my computer, which is beating its wings far too slowly. Maybe I should pour some sugar water in the keyboard?