What do hummingbirds eat? Do you know?

I often wondered what hummingbirds eat. We all know (I think) that they love Bird of Paradise flower nectar but Bird of Paradise are pretty seasonal. I have long periods of no flowers at all on my many large bushes. But my hummers are thriving so one day I spent the entire day in the yard, just watching them. I have at least 3 couples at all times and often more and when the chicks arrive, it is a hummingbird paradise.

It seems to me that hummers have very specific color preferences for flowers albeit sometimes, when there is nothing else available they will go for other things. But in general they tend to favor the ones with red, orange, pink, purple, so all in the red family and also yellow. They seldom ever go for white or blue, or very very dark purple. I found that interesting. So I planted additional flowers and trees in my yard (which is not large so it is packed now) with bottle brush trees, and a pink wonder called “Mignonette” that is not native to California and I ordered it from the East Coast. It was supposed to be small and hard to go.. well.. no.. not in California… it is weedy beyond control. It shows up everywhere, even in cracks of cement, pots that never get watered, and in general everywhere, They have cute little mini pink floweretts so my hummers love it. There is also a heather type that I have in two colors, one is red and the other is white on top and red on the bottom. Plus many orange and yellow flowers as season allows.

I have photographed hummingbirds many times and often with great success but it is always a crop since when they come close, they fly with like 200 miles per hour and impossible to react fast enough. So photos are always cropped and are too small for large wall prints. But then I am a painter. So I decided last night to paint a hummingbird using one of my photos as inspiration to get the colors right–I have many kinds of hummers and they all look quite different. This painting is done entirely with the palette knife (digital of course), which I have used only in some backgrounds but not usually for the subject. I wanted to see what it would look like. So here it is. Now you may purchase the print of this at my usual artist website (click on the words underlined) and make sure you click on the picture on that website to get to see the textures coming through. You may also purchase a download, you can visit my photography website (click on the underlined words) and purchase a download.

This is digitally painted by hand on my computer. I use the Wacom Intuos 4 tablet and pen and several different kinds of software to get the painting look like the “real” painted version on canvas. Since I was a painter in oil and other medium canvas for 30 years, I understand what an oil paint should look like and I those skills to my digital paintings.

Digital paintings have many advantages over paintings on canvas or paper. The most important of these advantages of digital over “real” is that since digital was created digitally, it will look on canvas or paper once printed exactly as you see it on the monitor and not flat! It is a frequent complaint of buyers after purchasing a print of an oil or acrylic paint on canvas, since on your monitor you see the digitally photographed version of that oil or acrylic paint.

Digital photography of highly textured items like oil or acrylic paint removes all textures and makes them appear flat. You don’t get this problem with digital art. You get exactly what you see! It is also green art–meaning it uses nontoxic materials and doesn’t kill trees in the making!

And here is what it looks like in small:

Painting of a hummingbird feeding

Digital oil paint with palette knife of a hummingbird feeding on a flower in my yard