Hummingbirds in Hell Canyon, Black Hills, South Dakota
 July 26 - 31, 2010


I camped in the area of Hell Canyon and spent mornings and afternoons photographing birds, but my focus was hummingbirds. I hoped to see the Calliope Hummingbird seen by others, but it must have moved on. Rufous and Broad-tailed were still present. It seemed that numbers dropped off by the end of the week.  On Wednesday, the spring (about one mile from Highway 16) was buzzing with hummers.  Other good places were between the first and second stream crossing and the area where the old asphalt remains on the trail. I've never seen more hummingbirds in one place in South Dakota than I did during this week in Hell Canyon.

Photographing hummingbirds without the aid of feeding stations is challenging. It took a lot of time to find perches that were used repeatedly, then a lot of waiting for the hummer to come back. In addition, the lighting in the canyon is poor, by the time the sun rises above the rim it is too high in the sky and provides very harsh light. Luckily for me, the days when hummers were most numerous and active were cloudy, the clouds diffused the light providing good photographic conditions.

The hummer I reported as a possible Anna's is most likely a Broad-tailed that was photographed in a way that appeared to show color on the crown as the same color of the gorget. I think now that the ruffled feathers appear black when they should be green. I had several emails about this bird, some think Anna's, one possibly a Black-chinned, but most go with Broad-tailed.

I'm posting these images at a higher resolution than I usually do, consequently the file sizes are larger and may be slow for those on slower internet connection. I did this so finer details on these tiny birds can be seen.

Male Broad-tailed Hummingbird

 Rufous Hummingbird, imm. male

 Rufous Hummingbird, adult male

 Rufous Hummingbird, adult male

 Broad-tailed Hummingbird, adult female

 Rufous Hummingbird, imm.

 Rufous Hummingbird, imm. male

 Rufous Hummingbird, imm. male

 Rufous Hummingbird, good view of the retrices

 Rufous Hummingbird, imm. male

 Broad-tailed Hummingbird, adult male

The mystery hummingbird, most likely a Broad-tailed.

Rufous Hummingbird, adult female?