freshman orientation

August 12, 2018  •  6 Comments

It is the time of year that either thrills or puts a shiver down the spines of students all over the world.  They are heading back to school or perhaps to university as freshmen, the newly minted class of 2022.  Despite the excitement of entering a new life phase, there is always trepidation.  Orientation, living arrangements, classes, teachers, and making new friends are all part of the mix. It is a little like learning to ride a bicycle.  You fall off, get on again, do much better and then try to turn a corner, and oops, you fall again.  But eventually, all the pieces come together.  And for photographers who grew up with film, it is like developing film the first time, in the dark of course, trying to load the film onto the roll, and turning it until you come to the end.  Then you carefully put it into the developing container with chemistry, and develop it for the prescribed amount of time.  When it is all done - developer, stop bath, fixer, wash - you take it out of the can and remove it from the roll, only to discover the film was curled somewhere along the way, or not agitated enough to thoroughly cover the film, leaving parts of it that never came in contact with developer.  But eventually, that too, becomes habit and second nature.

So just imagine a tiny young bird, with a wingspan of 4.3 inches (109 millimeters) inches and weighing less than one ounce, emerging from the nest, pretty much ready to fly into the world.  Such is the case of the rufous hummingbird.  The last three days, I have watched a female rufous, which must have been born here, guarding the flowers of purple sage plants.  With camera and 70-200 mm lens in hand, I followed her doing what I can only describe as endurance training.  She would fly and then rest, almost anywhere, which is not common among hummingbirds.  She would land on the ground, on the side of the water dishes, and literally crash into branches.  She is clearly part of this year's freshman class, and is going through a rigorous orientation.


Here she is making her way over the flowers, working each one as well as she is able to at this point in her young life.

hummingbird in sagehummingbird in sage

This was very nearly a crash landing but she hung on.  She is one strong bird!

hummingbird on sage 2hummingbird on sage 2

After the extremely active session of guarding "her" flowers, rest is essential.  Her eyes are starting to slam shut in this shot.  Having one's tail feathers in the water must also feel good on a warm afternoon.

hummingbird on water dishhummingbird on water dish  

But after a hummingbird-length nap, it is back to work, always diligent.

hummingbird on water dish 2hummingbird on water dish 2

Thanks to Maria Davila for sending the Colibrí (hummingbird) species residing in Coahuila - Oreja blanca (white-eared), magnifico (magnificent), garganta rubi (ruby-throated), garganta azul (blue-throated), and barba negra (black chinned).

until next Monday,


a passion for the [email protected]


James Bruce Watkins(non-registered)
Great Hummingbird pictures. Love em.
Catherine Sobredo(non-registered)
I totally agree that your writing is absolutely beautiful as are the images of this fledgling hummingbird! A wonderful engagement! Thank you for posting!
Steve Immel(non-registered)
I agree with whatshername. Love this post. Wonderful writing through and through. I like it when you give us an ornithology lesson. Every image is tack sharp save the wing blur. The catch light in the bird's eye in image four is wonderful.
Daryl, I loved reading about and seeing these photos of this hummingbird newbie. Thanks for a terrific post.
Dianne James(non-registered)
Daryl, your writing is as mesmerizing and transporting as the photographs you share. Amazing. I love the sound they make as they zoom by. The sound is comforting and reassuring that all is well in my little part of the world.
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