Nature in southeastern Arizona is astounding. With the turn of the year, Arizona residents and visitors know to look for tiny nests, barely larger than the delicate size of a small, porcelain teacup, cut in half. Arizona’s winged jewels, its hummingbirds, begin nesting in January. Already, at marvelous photography locations, such as the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum in the Tucson Mountains near the West division of Saguaro National Park, the Anna’s hummingbird (Calypte anna) and the Costa’s hummingbird (Calypte costae) have begun their annual nesting cycles. In southeastern Arizona, it’s time to delight in breeding hummingbirds.
Multiple hummingbird species
Nature lovers in the eastern United States view only the ruby-throated hummingbird, the one hummingbird species that breeds east of the Mississippi. However, in Arizona, a location at the crossroads of five, major biogeographic regions, the Southeastern Arizona Bird Observatory, indicates over a dozen species of hummingbirds can be spotted, including Anna’s hummingbird, Costa’s hummingbird, Rufous hummingbird (Selasphorous rufus), Broad-billed hummingbird (Cynanthus latirostris), and Black-chinned hummingbird (Archilochus Alexandri). Arizona, the nation’s hummingbird capital, holds the spectacular, unique delights of a multitude of tiny, winged treasures.
Late winter and spring hummers breed
The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum in Tucson is a natural fusion encounter, drawing together aspects of trail walk-abouts, unique gardens, informative museum opportunities, natural zoo viewing, distinctive aquarium exhibits, classrooms, and world-class research. It is a true desert adventure. Within its natural opportunities, the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum’s active, walk-in hummingbird aviary has extraordinary viewing and is ideally located next to its outside Pollination Garden.
Karen Krebbs, conservation biologist at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, describes the aviary’s breeding success indicating, “We’ve seen Costas, Broad-billed, Black-chinned, Anna’s, and Calliope hummingbirds nest, lay eggs, and rear young. There have been a total of 114 nests built, 186 eggs laid, 116 birds hatched, and 102 birds fledged. No other zoological institution can boast of such success!”
As the nation’s hummingbird capital, Tucson and its Sky Mountains region abound in hummingbirds. Tucson hikers, bikers, nature lovers, and wildlife viewers enjoy the sharp chirps and winged buzz of hummingbirds on a regular basis. Furthermore, the Southeastern Arizona Bird Observatory indicates that birders and nature lovers, through exploring unique areas like Sierra Vista, Madera Canyon, Ramsey Canyon, and the Santa Rita Mountains, may sight as many as fifteen species of hummingbirds, especially in the spring nesting season when species that have wintered further south return to the area’s sky mountains, gardens, hiking trails, and parks.
Special photography opportunities and tips
The hummingbird aviary of the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum provides outstanding photography opportunities. The hummingbirds alight at close proximity onto greenery and branches. The beautiful hummingbirds nest and feed in close range. While no flashes are permitted, the aviary provides soft, natural lighting. For optimal diversity in background, bring a lens that creates great boca (background blur) effects when focused on its primary, iridescent subject.
The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is located at 2021 North Kinney Road. Maps, directions, hours, admission, and membership information are available online. In planning a photographic visit for hummingbird viewing, consider inclusion of the Raptor Free Flight presentation as its outdoor, bird photography opportunities are extraordinary. The Raptor Free Flight presentations can provide both close-up and environmental, in-flight images.
For another, great and leisurely photography opportunity involving hummingbirds and nature, explore the world-class botanical gardens of the Boyce Thompson Arboretum, well-located for a day trip from Tucson. At Boyce Thompson Arboretum, hummingbird feeders draw the spectacular hummingbirds of the area, and there are over three miles of trails.
Attract your own hummingbirds
In an area with abundant hummingbirds, the best viewing as well as photography flexibility can be from one’s own patio or backyard garden. To facilitate those eager to attract hummingbirds, the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum provides a free, downloadable PDF brochure that lists hummingbird-attractive plants for gardens.
Accompanying this article is an original photographic slideshow of hummingbird images taken in the hummingbird aviary of the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. The accompanying slideshow offers strong perspectives of the types of images possible on a visit to the wonderful hummingbird aviary, where the tiny hummers seem eager to pose for photographs. For broader viewing of Arizona’s hummingbirds, view the “Best state to view abundant hummingbird species” slideshow.
Famed artist Vincent Van Gogh indicated, “If you truly love nature, you will find beauty everywhere.” Seamlessly integrated into Arizona’s natural beauty of mountains, deserts, canyons, plains, forests, and plateaus, are the joyful, annual delights of fifteen species of hummingbirds. Arizona is a state where nature’s beauty is everywhere.
Find the take in this article to be helpful? National and International Travel and Recreation as well as National Education and Industry materials come from a husband and wife creative team, who travel extensively as photonaturalists and writers. One is an experienced scientist with a doctorate in Material Sciences and background in optics research. The other is former Vice President of GKE (Global Knowledge Exchange), who served as a US Web-based Education Commissioner during the Clinton administration, and was a former US National Tech&Learning Teacher of the Year. To keep current on similar articles, click the free, subscribe link at the top of this article.