Phoenix area hummingbirds


Male Anna’s Hummingbird. Gilbert Water Ranch, Gilbert, Arizona. December 2015.

I saw a few hummingbirds when I went to Arizona last December. And when I looked through my photos, they were all male Anna’s hummingbirds. Male Anna’s have fancy magenta feathers on both their crown and throat. The colour is not a pigment, but a structural property of the feathers. When light hits the feathers at a certain angle, they appear magenta because this is the wavelength that is reflected. The magenta waves are also amplified by the feather surface, which is composed of layers of tiny air bubbles. When light meets the feathers at other angles, no light is reflected so they appear black. I didn’t photograph any hummingbirds whose crown and throat feathers were angled for full magentic splendor. Maybe some other time! You can read more about hummingbird iridescence on the Sibley Guides website.

J and I and J’s parents visited the Gilbert Water Ranch on a cloudy December day. It is an amazing place to see a large variety of birds. I mentioned it a while back when I posted some photos of Great-tailed Grackles I saw in the Phoenix area. The hummingbirds in the next two photos show a little bit of magenta.



I took a few sunny-day photos in the Mesa neighbourhood where J’s parents live. Lots of orange trees! This hummingbird kept his perch on an orange tree branch for a few minutes. He showed me a variety of profiles and varied his magenta highlights.





  1. What a magnificently magenta fella! 😀 My son was telling me about structural versus pigmented feather colors back when he took the Cornell Bird Lab home-study course. Really neat! Love your photos!

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    • Magnificently magenta 😀 ! Glad you enjoyed the photos and thanks for your always awesome appreciation. I’m assuming pigments are also a structural thing… since everything we see is physical… but I suppose it is at a molecular level. I should look that up someday. Very cool that your son took that bird study course. I may do that someday too. I’ve been trying to read a few journal articles on crossbills lately. So far, I only managed to finish one.

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    • Thanks Deborah :-). I’m so glad you like them. Which one will I paint? Giggles :-D. I remember asking you a similar question! Oh my! I haven’t tried painting a bird yet. So far, I’ve painted a colour wheel, a bunch of mixed-colour rectangles, a vase and a group of vases. But I suppose I should work up the courage soon (I’m a bit of a painting wimp). Your suggestion is definitely encouraging. Thanks. And yes, maybe the magenta-crowned one, since I can see the feather details in his wing. Did you paint your hummingbird yet?

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      • No, I haven’t even tried a sketch of it yet. I did a little grits mill vignette they took me hours to draw, and I’ve been trying to paint a loose Iris, but haven’t painted one I like.
        Your last bird game out so well that I’m sure if you tried it a hummingbird would too.

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        • Grits mill vignette? Irises are such lovely watercolour subjects! I hope you paint one you like eventually. Are they already in bloom in your area? (I’m having a missing-Vancouver-moment… so many different irises!)

          Thanks for complimenting my last bird drawing. I’m feeling much more comfortable working with pen and ink and markers than when I first tried. I guess watercolour is the same. I just need to paint a few awkward birds before I get a bit of a “feel” for painting birds. I’m glad you suggested this little project :-). And I hope you paint your hummingbird too… your subtle ink drawings are lovely, as is your sense of colour and composition.


          • GRRR! That should have been Grist mill. The vignette is a partial look at the scene rather than a grand scene. Are you on instagram? I posted it there.

            My instagram stuff is public so you can see what I’m painting and the occasional snippet from my home life.
            The Grist Mill and the Iris are both on my instagram site.

            This guy on Youtube inspires me so much! The link is how to paint a bird in watercolor simply. Right! He’s brilliant at watercolor and sketching.

            You can draw and see the details so clearly. You’ll be able to paint with watercolor if you can do that marker and pen piece.

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            • Thanks for the link to your instagram page Deborah. Your iris is quite good. The colours are perfect and so is the shape. And your grist mill looks great. I like the fun mix of painting and photos you post. The photo of you and your grandson laughing is so sweet and beautiful!

              I watched that video a few months ago. I like the way he paints and he is quite charismatic. I also remember watching him paint pumpkins. Thanks for the reminder. He’ll be great inspiration!

              Do you put photos from your DSLR camera on your instagram? I was wondering about how to do that last week and read that you need to transfer photos from a desktop to a smartphone and then use the instagram app. I’ve been thinking about getting an instagram account.

              And since you mentioned hot press paper for your wren, I’m thinking it would be fun to try. I’ve only tried cold press so far.

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              • Hi Myriam,
                Thanks for the comment about my Iris. I’m going to redo it.
                Right now I’m studying the techniques of Billy Showell. I bought her book A-Z of Flower Portraits. She paints in watercolor in the tradition Botanical style. Her work is exquisite. Honestly, I think it’s too detailed for me, but I want to get an idea of how to do it and hopefully find my style somewhere between totally accurate, and loose. 🙂

                Regarding images on Instagram- I use both my DLSR and cell phone images on my page. You do need the Instagram app for the cell phone to post with. You can view images on your computer, but you upload to your account with the computer. 😦
                Getting my images from my DSLR to my phone isn’t as hard as it sounds. I email myself any images I want to share on Instagram then open the email using my cell phone email app, save the image to my camera photo album then I upload I open an app called Instasize choose my photo album on the phone and select the image I want to share to Instagram. Instasize is magic it sizes the images to fit Instagram’s square crop without cropping or altering my image then I tell it to share on Instagram. In seconds it opens in Instagram where I add a comment and hashtags and post. Sounds complex but it’s easy and pretty fast once you get the hang of it.

                A friend told me Instagram resizes images without cropping them, but that hasn’t been the case for me so I continue to use Instasize to upload my DSLR images to Instagram.

                Watercolor Paper- YES! Try other papers. I think we should try all we can afford to see what works for us and what doesn’t. Since trying Hotpress I find I like it better than Coldpress. I like the smoother texture. I also want to try 300lb Artistico paper.

                If you set up an Instagram account send me the link!

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                • Hi Deborah 🙂

                  Thanks for taking the time to share this information with me. So nice! With your dedication and talent, I have a feeling you can draw in as much detail as you like. I find observing details to translate them into drawing takes a bit of practice. I looked at a lot of pen and ink bird drawings recently and afterwards, I drew a cormorant. It helped a lot to have looked closely at the techniques people were using. I’m super fond of botanical drawings. And my local library has a few books by Billy Showell. I think I may join you one of these days in drawing and painting some flowers. Thanks for the inspiration!

                  I read that one could use this app called Younity to transfer files from a computer to an iPhone, but your method of e-mailing yourself sounds easier. I’ve read about cropping issues like you mentioned so I’ll check out Instasize. I’m assuming you give it already square photos to work with? I’ll let you know when I post my first photo!


    • Thanks for your kind words :-)! I’m glad you enjoyed the photos. I was thinking the hummingbirds love your garden… so I searched for them on your blog… and indeed they do!


  2. Merci Myms de partager tes talents et transmettre ta joie de vivre [&#X1f60a] .Tes oiseaux mouches semblent si heureux d attirer ton attention et de se pavaner ds toutes leur splendeur.LUV…Jaja xxx [&#X1f44d]

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    • Merci pour tes gentils mots Jaja :-). Très heureuse que les photos des jolis colibris t’ont fait ressentir de la joie. C’était la première fois que j’en voyais tant dans une journée, et de si près! ❤


  3. Woaw, extra, j’étais passé à côté de ce superbe post apparemment ! Quel piqué, le détail des plumes est vraiment bluffant ! J’adore cet oiseau, vraiment splendide, j’avais eu la chance d’en croiser quelques uns au botanical garden de San Franscisco, un pur régal visuel. Par contre, pas toujours facile à photographier, quelle vivacité ces petites boules de plumes, c’est vraiment stupéfiant, à en donner le tournis ! Heureusement pour nous autres photographes qu’ils sont obligés de recharger les piles de temps en temps ! 🙂
    Merci pour le partage en tout cas Myriam.

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    • Merci pour ton appréciation des photos, Seb. Heureuse que tu as eu la chance de voir des colibris à San Francisco. J’adore les voir en action dans les jardins à Vancouver. Ils ne restent pas en vue longtemps, mais ça me donne toujours un frisson de joie voir leurs petites ailes battre à toute vitesse… ou les entendre voltiger pour un moment près de mon oreille! 🙂

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      • Merci à toi ! C’est vrai qu’ils amènent avec eux la gaieté ces petits poids plumes 🙂 Quelque soit l’espèce, un régal à chaque fois, surtout que par chez moi, ben y’en a pas ! Chanceux que vous êtes 😉

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