Recording audio of the ruby-throated hummingbird proved to be harder than capturing photographs of the 3-inch bird in mid-flight.
For six years I have photographed a hummingbird eating from flowers and feeders in our small condominium backyard in Glenview, capturing hundreds of great images using a large sports zoom lens placing the feeders and flowers near windows and shooting them throughout the glass.
But this year, with two birds arriving in May and two more in June all staying the whole summer I wanted to challenge myself. Video of flight and feeding and audio of the wing motion came to mind.
I spent several July and August days capturing close-up video of the birds eating from flowers and feeders, using a Canon DSLR photo camera with a large sports lens and using a variety of wireless microphones.
To record the audio separately, I tried a very sensitive, high-end, hand-held digital recorder hanging a foot above a feeder without a perch so the bird would be in-flight in one spot while feeding. The highly sensitive recorder got nothing.
I then tried a shotgun and microphone hanging above with no results. Then a zoom directional machine that got only low sounds no audio of the wings beating, just a high pitched chirp.
Guessing that most of the wing motion sound might come from under the hummingbird I attached a wireless tie-clip microphone (wirelessly attached to the video camera) with a foam wind screen on the mic.
I clipped it to a non-perch feeder just inches below where the female bird would hover for its in-flight feeding. I used the wind screen because tie-clip microphones pick up a lot of wind noise even in low wind.
After waiting two hours, the hummingbird showed up and flew inches above the clip-mic three times for 40 seconds. I was sure I had great sound. But, after downloading the video and playing it, I could hardly hear it, even though I had the wireless mic manually turned up all the way.
The next morning, while watching the hummingbird hovering near a window, it finally hit me the wing sound is wind motion, and the wind shelf I placed on the mic prevented me from capturing the audio.
The next day, without the foam windshield over the tie-clip mic, I got excellent results. I captured the loud rapid beating of the birds wings.
Our hummingbirds feed from eight plants and four feeders in our 30-by-30-foot backyard. Its like a buffet for hummingbirds: We plant several blue-black salvia, red salvia, and upright fuchsia tube flowering plants each year.
This year I added three bright red and yellow hummingbird feeders within a yard of our windows. We fill the feeders with the standard mix: one part sugar to four parts water. And, of course, we change it every three to four days as recommended.
According to Tim Joyce, hummingbirds have a great memory if they try a feeder that tastes bad, they will not try it again for the rest of their lives.Copyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.