photography and digital scrapbooking

The Smallest Bird in the World


I tried a different approach to photographing the smallest bird in the world! After placing my camera on a small, flexible tripod, I placed it on the kitchen countertop about 3 feet from the window. I wanted to get a different perspective and get close enough to use a macro lens. But manual focusing was more difficult, since touching the lens caused the tripod to bounce a little. I noticed the hummingbird tends to hover and feed at about the same place in front of the feeder. So I decided to focus on the bird once, then just shoot during his next visit (hoping he would position himself in the plane of focus for a second or two). It was the easiest shoot so far and produced two photos that I like.

The young male shown here had the feeder almost exclusively to himself yesterday. The adults stayed at the other feeders in the yard. The youngster has learned to accept my presence, even when I move slowly a few feet from him. He usually looks directly at me and always checks out the camera no matter where I  place it in the kitchen.

Although the hummingbird has a tiny body, his brain is 4.2% of his body weight, the largest proportion in the bird kingdom. This particular bird’s curiosity is amazing! Recently, my husband and I were standing side by side at the kitchen window watching goldfinches eat seeds from my basil flowers. We froze when the young male suddenly showed up at the feeder. He drank as usual, but before flying away he paused and looked at us; moving his little head back and forth to get a good look at each of us! The hummingbirds always seem to know when something is different from their previous experience!

Both photos: Canon 60D, ISO 1600, 100mm, f/4.0, 1/200.

Click on the photos to enlarge.

juvenile male ruby-throated hummingbird

The macro photos make the hummingbird look huge! To provide perspective on his size; the flower shape of the feeder measures 1.5 in. (3.8 cm). His body is about 3.3 in (8.5 cm) from the tip of his beak to the tip of his tail.

Hummingbird facts I have discussed on my blog come from World of Hummingbirds. The information on this site is comprehensive and entertaining!

juvenile male ruby-throated hummingbird


Author: Karen Chandler

Metal clay jewelry, nature photography, and digital scrapbooking are Karen's passions. She is mostly self-taught, enjoying the learning process as much as producing her works of art. Karen's jewelry features fine silver, copper, and bronze. She sculpts and refines metal clay, then kiln fires her pieces and polishes them to perfection. The process allows for exciting interpretations of symbols, shapes, textures, and combinations of metals. A long time user of Photoshop, Karen loves to create digital layouts with her photos. Her layouts and albums are a diary of sorts; documenting milestones, recording happy times, and celebrating her love of nature.

12 thoughts on “The Smallest Bird in the World

  1. I am totally in awe Karen. You have definitely mastered taking photos of hummingbirds. And thank you for the added information. I found it fascinating.

    • Thank you, Joyce! Photographing birds to show details has been one of my goals for quite some time. I love having them close enough to make it relatively easy. Backlighting has been challenging at times, though!

  2. Beautiful shots! I love the intensity of his look in the second photo. Wonderful job!

  3. Oh, my goodness. Your photos are insane. I absolutely love these birds, and your shots are perfection. They put hummingbirds in the best light possible.
    Have you ever thought of publishing these? I mean, besides on this blog. Perhaps in a book about birds – your own or someone else’s. I don’t know if you’ll think it silly, but I really think they would look outstanding in a book. 🙂

    • Thanks so much for your kind words, Tatiana! A book has not crossed my mind. But you never know. I appreciate that you think they are good enough to be included in a book! Feedback is so important to me as I experiment and learn more about photography.

  4. I mean, of course the book would be about birds – haha. But I just mean one that’s exclusively for bird lovers or something.

    • I’m such a book-lover; it would be an incredible experience to have even one of my photos published. For now, I’m thinking about uploading some photos to bird photography galleries. Even though there are many ruby-throated hummingbird photos on the web, each is unique for composition and lighting. It would be interesting to get feedback from those who are more experienced with bird photography.

  5. So inspiring. I agree, they would look superb in a book!

  6. Thank you for your description of how you achieved these stunning shots. Very impressive, indeed. I assume you use a remote shutter release?

    • You are welcome! Yes, for the hummingbird photos I always use a tripod and remote shutter release. Continuous shooting mode is important too, since he moves so fast and changes positions almost constantly.