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Birds That Don’t Have to Try Hard Ep III: White-tailed Sabrewing

For the third and final installment of this mini-series (I really like doing this) I have, naturally, saved the best for last. Well, perhaps not the absolute best, but my definite favourite. Regular readers and avid followers would know by now I have a tremendous soft spot for the White-tailed Sabrewing. One of our largest hummingbirds, it’s found only in the rainforests of Main Ridge, Tobago. It was nearly wiped clean from the island by Hurricane Flora in 1963, but populations have since rebounded and can be seen with a certain degree of regularity throughout the forest. Sometimes one doesn’t even have to search – I distinctly remember a few years ago, sitting in quiet solitude in the cool forest – when there was a sudden buzzing behind me. I turned around and there was a White-tailed Sabrewing no more than two feet away from my face, just checking me out.

This bird has all of my favourite colours just slathered over itself. Males and females are similar, subtle differences give them their own unique appeal. They are so completely sure of themselves that I have often used my macro lens to make images of them. This is the species with which I have been most successful using this method, as they allow for a very close approach. Especially adult males. Gorgeous adult males. Just look at that deep blue!

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Even if you don’t get to see their full colour, golden light lends a hand.

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As mentioned in my previous posts about these magical hummingbirds – rain helps a great deal. Heavy rains usually send small birds away to hide, hunkering down as large droplets can really well, let’s just say, put a damper on things. During a torrential downpour this large male was the only hummingbird in sight, thoroughly enjoying his bath.

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And well, if you put rain together with delicious golden light – and a hummingbird – you got a serious concoction going on there. This one is a female, the morning sun glistening off her bill that was just dive-bombed by a droplet of water. If you look carefully you can see the remnants of that droplet as it scattered.

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When you experience this type of magic, nothing man-made can ever truly appeal to you. It doesn’t even come close.

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