Esquimalt man captures hundreds of hummingbirds on camera
ESQUIMALT -- Eric is not a superhero. But if you spend some time with him, you’ll realize he has a unique power.
“I sometimes have to turn it off,” Eric smiles, before gesturing behind me. “Because while I’ve been taking to you, I’ve been watching two hummingbirds out of the corner of my eye!”
When we go for a walk, he turns his power on.
“I’m looking for tiny little movements,” he says and then points up in the air.
Noticing movement leads to regularly meeting hummingbirds.
“People ask me, 'Where can you find them?'” Eric says. “The real answer is, you can find [hummingbirds] everywhere.”
With great power comes great responsibility; when Eric finds a nest, he films it from an unobtrusive distance.
He captures the bird’s lives on camera, from babies making their big debuts, to mothers delivering their take-out food. Eric also filmed an epic battle between a hummingbird and a caterpillar attempting to crawl into her nest. After a few decisive pokes, the bug fell and the bird retained its championship title.
“Over the years, I’ve filmed 100 nests, from egg to fight,” Eric says.
Although he shares most of his pictures and videos on his ‘hummingbirds up close’ Facebook page, the discovery of one bird, building one nest, proved to be different than the rest.
“I thought, 'Wow! This is good!'” Eric smiles. “So I just kept filming.”
He documented how the bird — after her first nest was almost destroyed by a rainstorm last month — rebuilt and repaired it. The renovated nest incorporated a canopy of leaves.
“They are amazingly resilient,” Eric say.
Attempting to stay dry is one thing, Eric says, surviving last week’s snowstorm is another.
“I thought this bird will be covered in snow,” Eric says. “So I went down early in the morning and sure enough she was.”
He focused his camera on the unmoving pile of snow, and after a few minutes of waiting, found his suspicions were confirmed.
“She’s still alive,” Eric smiles, recalling how he saw a tiny movement under the snow. “She’s waking up from her torpor.”
After the bird shook off the effects of the quasi-hibernation and the snow that covered her, she flew away. That’s when Eric’s keen perception and zoom-camera lens paid off again.
“She goes off to get some food for her chicks which were underneath her,” Eric smiles. “She had chicks hatch during the snowstorm!”
Eric’s been checking on the nest ever since, capturing footage of the babies being fed surrounded by the melting snow. He says the chicks — like their mom — are thriving.
Seeing happy endings like this are one of the perks of having the power to pay attention to distractions.
“It’s actually pretty exciting because I enjoy...” Eric starts saying, before looking away and noticing movement beyond him. “Squirrel!”
Apparently, his power of perception’s default setting is ‘on.’