Hummingbirds at Butterfly World

by Jess Yarnell

I visited Butterfly World in late May when my hubby Rich and I visited South Florida for a few days to photograph the Burrowing Owls.  I’d been wanting to visit Butterfly World ever since seeing Jamie Felton’s incredible image of a butterfly landing on a hummingbird’s head.  The place certainly didn’t disappoint.  There were hundreds of butterflies swirling all around us.  We got there on a Sunday morning just as it opened, which was good, since it was Memorial Day weekend and it was quickly packed!  I’d definitely recommend a trip there, but do try to avoid holiday weekends!



Broad-tailed Hummingbird


Although Butterfly World is named quite appropriately for its many butterflies, my real goal was the hummingbirds that also reside in the free-flight aviaries.  Many of these hummingbirds are not native to the East Coast of the United States.  Although the four-hour drive to Butterfly World felt long, it was short compared to the drive to Arizona or Mexico or Central America to the hummingbirds’ native habitat!


A very friendly Butterfly World staff member answered all my questions about the hummingbirds, and helped me to find their favorite perches.  That’s one very helpful thing to know about photographing hummingbirds: they return repeatedly to their favorite branches between feedings.  It’s also helpful to listen for hummers, as you often hear them before you see them.


Butterfly World prides itself on having several exotic species of hummers, including this Sparkling Violet Ear Hummingbird.  He’s a lot bigger than my typical Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds, and it was surprising to look up into a tree and find him staring down at me.  I was glad I had taken my flash, as his favorite spot was in the shadows!



Sparkling Violet Ear Hummingbird


So I bet you’re wondering if I took any pictures of the butterflies at Butterfly World.  Well, yes, of course I did.  Hundreds, in fact.  It was challenging to get good images with so many people in the aviary.  I loved the composition of the following image, but it had a very messy out-of-focus foreground.  So the Fractalius Photoshop filter came to the rescue…


Piano Key Butterfly




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There were all sorts of little birds flitting around the aviary, like this Owl Finch, who spent most of the morning with his nose in the bird feeder.  I caught this one in a more photogenic pose: he was carrying some nesting material off to his wife.


Owl Finch with Nesting Material


My hubby had to chuckle when I came bursting out of the aviary saying, “you have to see what I just photographed!”  He of course thought it was a pretty butterfly.  When I led him to a nest of day-old Japanese White-Eyes chicks, he laughed out loud.  ”Trust Jess to find a birds’ nest where ever she goes!” :)



Japanese White-Eyes at Nest

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