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

Not All Calla Lilies are the Same

My yard is not big but a good size as far as California yards go. It is filled with flowers, a few fruit trees, many HUGE Bird of Paradise bushes, etc., to the point that you cannot even see the ground. I am told by some (particularly my gardener) that it is too full and difficult to get though it but I like the jungle look and also like that the ground is so covered that weed has little chance to grow…

Little did I know that some plants that find it hard to grow elsewhere LOVE my yard so much that they pop up everywhere, taking the weed classification of equivalence to dandelion! One of these is the giant Calla Lily! Its stems can easily be up to 6 feet tall. To collect a stem, one does not cut but pull (I learned this from the gardener) so that way one gets to the bottom of the flower. I simply have no vases tall enough to hold a Calla Lily like that without falling over and if I placed them on the table, they reach the ceiling of my house… clearly floor vase is needed!

With that all said and done, they are actually very beautiful and hardy albeit much softer than the Calla Lily types you see in flower stores for sale. The leaves are huge and simple green–no spots–and the flowers.. well.. you can sink an entire wedding bouquet into a single one sometimes. So they are clearly NOT for weddings but can look great in the corner in a tall vase.

Their white is VERY white so hard to photograph without much reflection of the light. Their pollen is extremely long and yellow, very dominant in looks. They are bulbs but quite irregular in share–nearly tuberose type but not quite. In general they are a nuisance but a beautiful one at that. So I painted one long time ago–on the computer of course, digitally by hand. But that was in 2009-2010 and since then my digital painting has seriously improved. So here is a painting update I have created last night in a highly impressionistic style.

White giant Calla Lilly painting

An impressionistic painting of a white giant Calla Lily

What is important to note is the pollen area. If you visit my artist website this flower by clicking on the word “Calla Lily” here, and click on the picture itself, it will bring up details of the textures in full size of a small area, so click on the pollen part. You will be amazed at what digital painting is capable of today! If you prefer to purchase a digital download, you should click here.

Water Drops of a Blind Photographer?!

Sometimes, we photographers are so blind! What is in front of us we don’t see… we only see what we want to see. Perhaps this is true for you as well. My eyes seem to be trained to have amazing peripheral vision and the slightest movement of a bird of fly will capture my attention but I can have a tiger about to jump at me sitting in front of me and I will probably bump into it and fall over it and it will (hopefully) walk away thinking I am already dead…

Take a look at this case and point: a photo with beautiful rain drops, which is unique since it never rains in California.. right? Right.. so it rained this morning.. just a bit… and I had to go and capture the rain drop… the fact that a whole world of interesting creatures is in front of me (probably for the same reason) is completely invisible to me.. I am hunting for rain drops… I am HUNTING for raindrops… and miss a much more exciting subject that is literally posing for me: a cricket… how often do you have the chance to capture a motionless cricket for 30 minutes? Never before and probably never again. ┬áBut.. I do have some nice raindrops!?!?

Rain drops and a cricket on a daisy

rain drops and an invisible cricket on a daisy after rain