Sunday, July 19, 2009



The Cuban Bumble Bee humming bird is the smallest bird in the world.

Humming birds are found only in the Americas with almost all found in South America. Some remain in Central America and Mexico with a few who live year-round in the southern US of A.


Huge Hummingbird on the ground as seen from 20,000 feet

This is an aerial photograph of the huge petroglyph of a hummingbird from thousands of years ago in Peru called the Nazca Hummingbird petroglyph of Peru. The Incas considered humming birds good luck and so I do too.

Picture taken at dusk was taken behind our house

Our Home with a view looking west toward the Banning Pass
We are at 1300 feet above the Coachella Valley at sea level.

Palm Springs is 25 miles is west of us at the foot of the mountains


My mother fed the hummers for 12 years at our house in Indio Hills California, before she died in 1980 and we continued to feed them when we moved here. Then I got a digital camera to take pictures of people, things and the area in July 2001. I told my wife Sharon I was going to try to take a hummer's picture and that was the beginning. For the past eight years, I have taken thousand up thousand of hummingbird pictures. My hand held are easier to hold as much time is spent waiting for hummers to come. I usually get about 6 to 7 inches from the hummers for the best pictures and seldom use zoom as it tends to distort. My cameras are plam sized digitals.

My cameras are not high mega pixel cameras so respected magazines such as National Geographic, Arizona Highway and Birds and Bloom have asked about some of my pictures but my low pixel format precludes their being used. I have had a few pictures since 2002 that have been published on Lanny Chamber's inner net HUMMINGBIRD site.

THE UNUSUAL FEMALE COSTA or whatever it is. Nobody can tell for sure.

I've recently from 17 April to 13 May taken over 160 pictures of a different hummer that so far no one else has seen. Hummingbird experts, Sheri Williamson, Bob Sargent and Nancy Mayfield along with Chambers say it is a female Costa with an unusal reflective neck feathers but not sure.

This has been on his very good Hummingbird Website for 8 years and I am pleased.

Two of my cameras

Left is a 2007 and smallest; a 7 pixels digital. Right is my 1st a 2001 1.3 Maga Pixel camera.


There are 330 species of humming birds in the Americas and they are nowhere else on Earth! When the European explorers brought them back to Europe in the 1400s, the hummers didn't survive! They also don't like to be caged and died here in our Western hemisphere. They like to fly but only in South, Central and North America. Most hummers are in Ecuador with a reported 150 species.


and a few FACTS

In the mainland United States, humming birds come as early as middle spring and leave in the summer to early fall. It varies of course. In the Southern US, from Florida, across the Gulf Coast States to California, some hummers will stick around all the year, as they do here in Indio Hills. They are entertaining. They are funny. They are the best! They are daredevil flyers. They appear to be fighting but it could be playing but they are possessive little guys.

They have flown between my arms and head while I'm holding the camera. They have landed on my camera to look at me. Often when two are tail chasing, they have come so close I can feel their wings but a hummer has never hit me. They at times are fearless but other times will fly away if I move a finger.

These masterful flyers are combination aeroplane and helicopter pilots and are the flying aces of all birds. They have buzzing down to a science. They are God's greatest flyers and flying on a cross-country flight is their forte.

Hummers like fish seem to return to areas where they were born to reproduce. Some fly from Central America to Canada and Alaska yearly. Migrating hummers know how to fly utilizing the circular clockwise winds around a fair weather High-pressure system.


When a super Great Basin High pressure system is situated in the western US, the hummers will ride the clockwise tail winds up through California northward to Canada and Alaska, usually in March through May. So we see the Rufous, the all time long distance flyer in these months. Then in late July till early September, they will ride the clockwise high pressure southerly winds from the Rocky Mountains most of the way back through Colorado, New Mexico and down the Gulf coast of Mexico into Central America. They, like other birds are given knowledge how to navigate that man still can't understand the" how do they do it"? Like homing pigdeons.

The longest banded or tagged hummer XC flight was recorded a northwest migration of a Rufous flying 1,733 miles or 2,773 km from Clark Colorado to Yes Bay in Alaska. Then going south another Rufous was banded at Swan Lake Montana and fifteen days later, banded at Gothic Colorado on a 747 mile 15 day flight, according to data in Hummingbirds of North America. What is so unusual is the Rufous also will fly over to the eastern US then fly down the East Coast to FL across to Cuba then make a XC across to get home in Central America? An amazing long advantageous flyer, the Rufous.

XC Some bird experts say hummers fly across the Gulf of Mexico. This is disputed by humming bird author Dan True also a pilot and meteorologist. He agrees the hummers fly between Florida to Cuba then to Belize into Central to South America. But to cross the Gulf at their normal 35 mph speed, non-stop between the northern parts of the Yucatan coast would require night flights. NO, they do not fly at night. They then fly through Mexico to their hometown if they don't do a Cuban crossing. They are smart VFR day pilots and never log any red ink time (Navy night flying time). So the crossing the Gulf from say New Orleans to the Yucatan theory is far-fetched, says Dan True. And it makes sense to this old pilot and I totally agree with Dan True. No long over water cross country flights and no night flights are for the hummers.


Hummers come to feed before the sun comes up. They will eat a big breakfast then head off to visit flowers, plants and feeders in the neighborhood. They tend to take about 20 minutes between their next stop to returning to feed at the same feeder. Since they are daytime only flyers and they get up before sunrise and go to bed after sunset they have some long days in the summer.


Humming bird Moth at a Honeysuckle bush

This Honeysuckle is a favorite for hummingbirds here in the desert. The long neck flower offers a perfect way for them to get their nectar.


These are a few feeders from the ten or so different ones of the dozen feeders. Six up is normal. My favorite is one has the yellow bee guards so I can block 3 nozzles and get one hummer at a time for better close up pictures. The bees are a royal pain in the butt and the bee guards really don't stop them from coming. Bees come early morning, just as the hummers do and give the hummers and me trouble. The one thing the bees can't handle are winds over ten to 15 mph..

The hummers will always feed at flowers but will also come to their favorite "tankers" at first light and just before sunset every day to fill up at their favorite filling stationed. And humming birds like us. will go to their favorite restaurant where the food is good, plentiful and inexpensive; like free. I fill 3 128 ounce jugs with a 5 pounds of pure white sugar and with no coloring. It is well shaken and with plain tap water. as our water is excellent tasting and they like it too. The 3 jugs last about a week but it varies on how many hummers come. The hummers come every day but the number varies from time to time.


Hummers like aeroplanes, take-off and land best, into the wind. And the same is true for feeding but they can somehow manage to feed even with tail winds, if they aren't excessive, I always try to tie down the feeders and put them into the wind. When the winds get excessive, I will put a feeder or two in the shower shed with the door removed and they are wind protected

Hummers feed in high winds and even in heavy rain (they are rare here) but they keep on coming to feed. So high winds are just another part of their lives. Hummers are little but they are tough little birds.


We have seven specie that come here. Two the Allen and the Rufous that look almost like come when they feel like it. The Rufous comes in March and April on the way north but doesn't stop on the way back to Central America as the winds take him home via New Mexico and down the Mexican Gulf Coast. The Allen comes in from the Pacific coast when it gets tired of the Sea breezes and needs a change of scenery. The Calliope is seldom seen. The most frequent seen are the Costa, Black Chin and Anna.

sometimes they are here in March and April

is arorund year round

MALE COSTA these are here year round

Rufus at sunset
March and April if we are lucky

CalliopeAdd Image (I have never seen) are around, they say.

Black chinned male
these are common here year round

Anna male are arorund at times.

An Unusual Happening
and a surprise

In 2005 a different looking hummer came by and I took a few pictures of it during its 20 minute stay in our back yard, then forgot about it but kept the pictures. Then while looking at some old hummer pictures, I saw it and decided to ask an expert about it.

Lanny Chambers the owner of the Hummingbird website told me it was a hummer that has never been seen or photographed in California. It was a long and beautiful female probably on the way from it's New Mexico and Colorado summer home to Palm Springs to buy some expense things for her magnificent tastes. I am grateful she stopped to have an afternoon tea.

The Magnificent. formerly the Rivoli specie.
It is the second largest hummer seen in the US next to the Blue Throat.



St. Francis, watching a hummer in our yard


Tongue Experiment. Yep it's a long one.

The into the sun experiment to show their translucent wings

Let your imagination go.... far out.

Humming Bird Space Station

Self pic of the old guy with a new guy

The Hand Inn. One waiting for a spot.

A Serious One on One

OK, who's going to say Grace?


Bumblebee Hummer from the Isle of Pines off SW Cuban coast
Perhaps the world's smallest bird.


It's raining and the wind is howling, yet she came to our feeder

Friendly Finger Feeding





The Piper J3 Cub first flown in 1946

Soloed the Cub in New Orleans

Complicated cockpit yeah!. Gas gauge was a cork float in center top of panel. No radios.

Douglas F4D SkyRay

Last flight in the FORD was in 1965 This is the only F4D I flew: BuNo 748, now parked at Pima Air Park Tucson AZ

F4D SkyRay cockpit

It climbed like a rocket and once held several world climb records.
My last jet & test mission was at White Sands Proving Grounds on a 50,000 ft. night project.


Air America highly modified night drop B26 with a F111 TFRadar and a drop ramp

A26 (B26) Test Invader Cockpit I flew

One set of controls and it flew like a fighter

Swearingen Merlin III TurboProp 1st flown in 1979

Merlin III; easy to fly: flew it alone out of NOLA Lakefront where I had soloed 33 years before

It had it all and was the Cady of the Twin TurboProps



Flew it as a stident pilot and landed it on the carrier CABOT named for Italian Giavanni Caboto who sailed for England. They say he founded North America but perhaps the Viking did.

Also flew the USN Reserve Goodyear FG1D Corsair in New Orleans. The F4U was fine machine


VC33 Norfolk flyng Anti SubMarine Warefare missions

It handled like a truck was called a Turkey but was a good carrier plane.

1950 on the FDR my first fleet cruise was on the FDR to Cuba flying the TBM


Flown in VC33 out of Atlantic City; made 6 cruises in the night AbleDog.
1,777 hours, 288 carrier landings with 61 at night on 13 carriers from 1950 to 1955.



Known as "paddles" the LSO brought us in day and night on the old carriers with no touch and go bolters misses, no glide slope bright "meat bsll" landing light and little light on the flight decks and a fence to run into if your wire missed the cables.


About to get a "CUT" to land.

The LSO platform is on the left side adjecent to the large 2.He's holding a ROGER. He and the flags are hard to see. The LSO gave or waved signals with bright flags in the day and flourescent wands or UVLighted paddles at night while in a suite that reflected the UV Lights. Or he wore a "Christmas Tree" lighted suit. Regardless of what was used, the LSO was seldom seen until you got close at the 45 complared to the 90 degree position. day time but it worked day or night..

Here are some of the LSO signals.

The LSO had someone behind him, keeping notes on each approach and landing. I was an LSO qualified to bring the AbleDog aboard day and night for a year before I got out in 1955. Here are some of the abbreviations the LSO used.

DNIG Dropped nose in grove Not good; could hit the ramp
SLAW Slow all the way Usually a good pilot not afraid to fly slow
FATB Fast as 2 bastards Can't slow it down. Maybe needs to go
DNKUA Damn near killed us all LSO jumped in safety. He is mad as hell
RATW Roger all the way Pilot is on railroad tracks. The best
HUAL Head Up and Locked Pilot makes the same mistake; usually gets a WO

The LSO went to the ready rooms after the last plane was recovered and read from his little green book so all heard how good or bad your the approach and landing was. We had no TV or VCRs then.


We landed the F4U in flight training on it off Pensacola in 1949

I also landed the Douglas AD Abledog on it in the fleet.


F4U in the grove just before getting a cut and looking good.

TBM at the ramp

LSO is having to work to bring the pilot aboard. Not the best approach.


Pilot has grabbed a wire. Well Done!

Flew the night Douglas Skyrader from 1950 to 1955 in VC33, a night attack squadron out of Atlantic City NJ.. Made 288 carrier landings, 61 at night and made six cruises and 192 fleet missions in the AbleDog.

The AbleDog was a wonderful plane. The best prop carrier plane made we thought in VC33.


Will add hummers and aeroplaness later. frank b.

20 June 2010 Indio Hills CA.