Dean M. Chriss
Costa's Hummingbird, Southern Arizona

Costa's Hummingbird, Southern Arizona

(Click image to enlarge)

The image above shows a male Costa's hummingbird (Calypte costae) displaying the iridescent purple feathers on his crown and gorget (throat patch). These hummingbirds live in low desert habitats of the southwestern United States and Mexico, and are most easily found during their breeding season in March and April. Like most hummingbirds they are very territorial and will defend their territory aggressively. Several perches in a given area are typically claimed by a bird and these are used as resting places between feeding periods. If you find a hummingbird perched somewhere and it flies away, chances are it will return to the same spot a short while later. Such was the case with the little fellow shown here. Costa's hummingbirds rely on habitats that are increasingly threatened by human use and development of the low deserts in the United States and Mexico. For more information about the Costa's hummingbird, please see the website.

While it may be true that electronic flash does not bother hummingbirds under some very specific conditions, this is often not the case. Because the bird in this image was shielded from direct sunlight he would definitely have flown when the first flash photograph was taken. For that reason I photographed without flash and the tiny bird stayed on his perch, resting and posing, until it was ready to feed again.