My name is Carole Turek and I have been consistently feeding hummingbirds for 25 years. My home in Studio City, California now attracts hundreds of them daily. There are so many hummingbirds here now that I decided to share them with the world on a live cam.

I began photographing my birds and my passion for photography grew to where I had to find more species of hummingbirds to photograph. I started with trips to Arizona, but to find more and more beautiful hummingbirds to photograph, I had to start traveling to Central and South America.

My last trip before all travel came to a halt was to northern Colombia to photograph the Blue-bearded Helmetcrest, one of the rarest hummingbirds in the world. To reach this critically-endangered hummingbird one must seek permission from the indigenous tribes and then trek up to an elevation of 10,000 feet to arrive at the last remaining territory of this hummingbird. The bird is so rare that it was thought to be extinct until five years ago.

Less than one hundred people alive have seen it (there actually is an "I've Seen the Blue-bearded Helmetcrest Club") and only a handful of people have actually photographed one. We have created three episodes to show the world our journey to the páramo at the Lagos de Sevilla in the Santa Marta Mountains of northern Colombia, where the Blue-bearded Helmetcrest can be found. You can watch these episodes here: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3.

All of my past and future photography trips are being documented on my YouTube channel, Hummingbird Spot. So far I have photographed 150 of the 350+ hummingbird species that are scattered over Central and South America. We will be traveling from the Amazon rainforest to the peaks of the Andes Mountains! Come with me!


YouTube channel





Comments: 704 • Responses: 114  • Date: 

APicketFence468 karma

What’s the biggest swarm of hummingbirds you have seen?

CaroleTurek680 karma

The biggest swarm? On my balcony. During the winter I have so many - I have a live cam on five feeders and I have seen 80 birds there at one time. There is a video of this on the YouTube channel. It is hard to believe those little guys sit shoulder to shoulder on those feeders!

HoyAlloy160 karma

How many species have you seen in your yard?

CaroleTurek296 karma

I have seen six different species here. Anna's, Allen's, Black-chinned (those three are out there now), Rufous, Calliope and Costa's.

diggbee82 karma

i have anna's allen's and i think i saw a rufous this year! northern california. saw a merganser the other day on a walk but that's likely another thread :)

subbed to your youtube!

CaroleTurek66 karma

Thank you so much for the sub! You would see Rufous during migration, as do I. I love it when they pass through!

DearthStanding30 karma

Where do you get so many species of hummingbird at once? I barely see any birds beyond the normal ones CANADA GOOSE here in New England

CaroleTurek41 karma

Well, we are fortunate to have several species here in Southern California. In New England you only get the Ruby-throated Hummingbird. All the others I have to go to Central and South America.

BostonBrownie16 karma

I have 2 pr. Of ruby throats in Jamaica Plain, a neighborhood of Boston.

CaroleTurek13 karma

Lucky you! A lot of people on the East Coast try to attract them and can't.

cryfight416 karma

With so many birds feeding at one time, do you see any fighting or aggression? Territory wars? If so is there a dominant species or perhaps aggression between sexes?

I want to think that hummingbirds are tiny angels that all get along. Thank you for what you do!!

CaroleTurek109 karma

They do not get along. They are very solitary creatures! If hummingbirds could talk, it would be all four-letter words!

GeneralsGerbil27 karma

How do they get along? At my parents house in NC they pretty much act like aerial dog fights.

CaroleTurek62 karma

They don't get along. They fight all the time. But there are so many birds back there they sort of "tolerate" each other at the feeders.

Bonestown6 karma

Do your neighbors mind? I remember reading about a girl that had 100’s of crows show up and her neighbors hated her because they pooped everywhere

CaroleTurek11 karma

Well, hummingbirds are not as loud as crows. They make a sort of zen sound!

Anders15 karma

Do you have a line to this video? I wanted to check it out but I couldn't find the specific one.

CaroleTurek14 karma

Go to YouTube and search "Hundreds of Hummingbirds on my Balcony" on the Hummingbird Spot channel. You will find it. I don't think I am allowed to put my links here.

anincredibledork280 karma

Hi Carole, thanks for hosting this!

As an avid birder, seeing many of these species is a life's dream of mine, and your photos are nothing short of stunning. Given the scope of your mission, I imagine that you've already got plans made for the next species on your list. Where do you see yourself headed once travel restrictions are lifted?

Also, do you have any suggestions or tips for birders looking to break into the photography game with regards to choice of camera/lens, etc?

And finally - have any other species of birds grabbed your eye recently, or are you fully immersed with hummingbirds?

CaroleTurek331 karma

Wow. I will answer the last question first - I am mainly about hummingbirds, but I also love raptors. When I go to Panama to photograph hummingbirds, you can be sure I am going to seek out a Harpy Eagle!

I had to cancel a trip to Ecuador this past May and I was going to look for the critically endangered Black-breasted Puffleg. We have rescheduled that one for next year the same time. Upcoming trips are Brazil in September (we will see how that goes) and I will be flying out to Robinson Crusoe Island off the coast of Chile to find the Juan Fernandez Firecrown, another critically endangered species.

The whole photography thing is interesting. Most people don't realize this by looking at my photos, but I just bought my very first DSLR camera in October of 2017. I knew NOTHING about photography before then. I bought an online photography course and invested in a good camera with a good telephoto lens. Fortunately, I have so many hummingbirds here where I live I got a lot of practice photographing them. Hummingbirds are tricky and they do take a lot of practice. My hobby has now become an obsession! Good luck!

Armadillo1961 karma

Always wanted to see a Harpy Eagle. I'm also hoping to see a resplendent quetzal next time I'm in Central far no luck the first two times, but plenty of other great birds :)

CaroleTurek60 karma

I've seen the Quetzal in Costa Rica and in Honduras. Magnificent bird!

SableyeFan170 karma

Do you get paid for this?

CaroleTurek324 karma

Nope. It is my dream to get a sponsor, but I pay for everything now.

Anders1152 karma

You might not have a sponsor but have your tried getting in contact with Coyote Peterson at the Brave Wilderness YouTube channel. I don't believe he's hosted anyone involving hummingbirds but it could be a neat collaboration

CaroleTurek107 karma

I will check it out. Thanks.

LemmingRus43 karma

So how did you get the money for all this?

CaroleTurek249 karma

I don't have children. Children are wonderful, but I never had any. I'm also 70 and still working!

bowie_for_pope101 karma

Maybe you hear this a lot, but I think it's inspiring that you're doing so much travelling and have a skill you're so passionate about pursuing. I am in my 20s now, but you're leading the life I hope to some day live.

CaroleTurek113 karma

Thank you. You are never too old to follow your dreams. You have a long life ahead of you. Make good choices. Enjoy your body while something doesn't hurt every morning when you get up!!!!

NationalGeographics11 karma

Craig behind craigslist is a huge hummingbird fan.

CaroleTurek10 karma

I did not know that!

fieldtripday135 karma

Home buying budget: $1.8 million

WE_FAM_NOW149 karma

Her husband crochets Xmas socks, so it’s doable.

CaroleTurek136 karma


WE_FAM_NOW25 karma

It’s awesome what you do! I have a bunch of hummers that visit my LA home. They love the Mexican sage and Salvia Gregii. Pretty sure they are the Ana’s and Allen’s ones. Love seeing them

CaroleTurek28 karma

Yes, they are the most common ones here. I also have Black-chinned here now and you may have also. I have Mexican sage growing here. Also Bee Balm, Firecracker plants, Fuschia (in pots) and Tecomaria. They love it all!

zzzkitten117 karma

What’s your favorite lesser-known fact about hummingbirds?

CaroleTurek294 karma

There are a lot of things about hummingbirds that most people do not know . Like their main source of food is insects, not nectar. They are sugar-powered hunters (as a friend of mine has said).

_halalkitty16 karma

Hello! Thanks for this. Do you know if there’s a hummingbird that’s really picky about what they eat?

CaroleTurek52 karma

Not really. They need sucrose or glucose for fuel and they eat insects, spiders being their favorite! They also use the spider webs to build their nests.

Sister-Rhubarb106 karma

Which hummingbird species is your favourite (so far)?

CaroleTurek224 karma

That's easy. The Marvelous Spatuletail hummingbird. It is endemic to northern Peru. It is a tiny bird with a very long tail with discs at the end of his tail. Gorgeous bird!

CaroleTurek99 karma

I have been to its territory three times already and am going back again next February. I feel a special connection to that hummingbird. If people have "spirit animals" this bird is mine. I have a video on my YouTube channel of this bird flying and displaying.

actuarally102 karma

LOVE keeping feeders for my hummingbirds here in KY. Which feeder would you say is the best for attracting the birds and which nectar recipe do you follow? Any tips to encourage nesting?

CaroleTurek185 karma

I use the 4:1 recipe - four parts water/one part cane sugar. Use white refined sugar only, as natural sugar contains iron, which they cannot metabolize and they end up with a fatal iron storage disease. I don't know if you can encourage nesting. They are pretty prolific without our help. The females often lay three clutches of two eggs per season. The best feeders to use are the ones with the least amount of parts that come completely apart so they are easy to clean. Keeping them clean is essential.

fastfeathers62 karma

When the weather gets hot I only fill my feeders 1/4 full and clean them often. This way you don't waste nectar and the nectar doesn't have as much time to breed bacteria before it's next clean! You can store extra nectar in the fridge for a few days. Just a tip I've found helpful!

CaroleTurek80 karma

That is exactly what I tell people to do. When it is hot, I change the nectar daily. Bacteria and mold grow rapidly in a concentrated sugar solution in the heat.

spospospo38 karma

Grab a bottle of Star-San too. It's a concentrated, food grade sanitizer that will sanitize a cleaned surface in 30 seconds. I started using it when brewing beer (unwanted bacteria is a real threat to the hobby) but have since been using it for a multitude of things. Keep up the good work, your pictures are great!

CaroleTurek21 karma


MoonUnitMotion26 karma

Hi! Not the person who asked the original question, but I have one off this topic.

I love feeding the hummingbirds in my yard, and I love the feeder I have which allows them to stop their wings and feed. But the bigger birds in the yard occasionally will drink up all the nectar in the feeder. There’s one now, a bright yellow bird that is not native to the area. He and his hooligan buddies eat up all the nectar in the feeder.

Do you have suggestions on feeders that will not allow the bigger birds to feed, while allowing the hummingbirds to light and sit a moment? Or some way to modify my feeder to deter the larger birds? I’ve tried a few homemade projects without success, and my preliminary research has not found any concrete information. Perhaps you could suggest something.

Thank you for doing this AMA.

Also thanks for the recipe. Good to know I’m using the right sugar. It’s what my grandma used.

CaroleTurek55 karma

Those yellow birds are Orioles and they are also nectar feeders. The best way to deal with them is to give them their own food. You can halve oranges and put them out for them. They also LOVE grape jelly. There are Oriole feeders that have bigger holes for them with wells for grape jelly. They are very beautiful birds! I have a few of them on my balcony also, Bats will also empty the feeders at night. If you have bats in your area you just have to bring your feeders in at night.

nap-and-a-crap72 karma

Why hummingbirds? Where did it all start?

CaroleTurek141 karma

Oh, wow. Well, I've always been a bird person. My mother did not like cats or dogs, so we always had a parakeet around the house. Then when I was on my own I started getting parrots, then when I got my first house I put up bird feeders. Hang a hummingbird feeder and you get hooked! Feeding them, watching them, then photographing them.......snowballed into what it is now! Hummingbirds are such a dream to watch. Then when I found out how many different species there are and how exotic some of them look, I became obsessed with them. It's a good obsession, though!

ellieneagain47 karma

Which is your favourite photograph?

CaroleTurek91 karma

Of all the ones I have taken so far? I photographed a White-necked Jacobin in Peru on a Heliconia flower. His wings were perfectly lined up with the petals of a the flower and he was on tiptoes on the stamens. Lucky shot!

ellieneagain22 karma

I love the Lazuline on your website.

CaroleTurek36 karma

Thank you! Again a very lucky shot! It almost looks like he yawned for me!

CaroleTurek39 karma

i am actually posting a video of that trip later today that includes the photograph.

ConfusedSpaceMonkey47 karma

Do you have a favorite camera/lens system or any gear recommendations? I'm a big fan of our hummers here in the Colorado foothills and have video and still cameras set up for them.

Also, how sternly should I lecture the rufous when he shows up late season to bully all the other birds (no matter how many feeders we have up)?

CaroleTurek62 karma

Oh, you made me laugh! I used to live up in the Sierras near Lake Tahoe and my main hummingbirds were Calliope's and Broad-tails. About the end of July every year the Rufous' would show up. One day there were none and the next day there were tons and they absolutely took over. But their aggressiveness and ability to take over food sources is what allows them to make the trip from Mexico to Alaska every year!

I personally am a Nikon person. I take two cameras and two lenses with me now. Cameras are the D500 and the Z7 and lenses are the f/5.6 500mm PF and the f/2.8 70-200mm.

mdoktor32 karma

Which humming birds are the fastest, and how many blurry photos do you end up with before getting a good one?

CaroleTurek50 karma

Hahaha. Love the question. If I get one good photo out of every 100 I shoot I am ecstatic! You have to take a lot of photos to get good ones of these little birds. The fastest? I don't know for a fact if they have all been clocked, but generally the smaller they are and the smaller their wings are, the faster they will beat. The Giant Hummingbird, which is the largest of the hummingbirds, is the easiest to photograph because its large size makes it slower and easier to photograph.

DucksAreClass30 karma

I recently moved to Vancouver from abroad an have seen a few hummingbirds around the place. I didn't even know they were in Canada until i saw one flying around my bushes. Are there many species in British Columbia?

CaroleTurek54 karma

You get two up there for sure. Anna's Hummingbirds have brilliant pink heads and gorgets (throat feathers) and Rufous Hummingbirds (which you will only see in the summer up there) have brownish-orange backs with bright orange gorget feathers. Less common for you but possible are Black-chinned Hummingbirds. They have black heads with a little strip of purple feathers below the black.

ArsonRides27 karma

Has anyone ever called you a real life “Pokémon Master”? Do you want to be the very best that no one ever was?

CaroleTurek21 karma

Haha! I guess you could say that I am! Certainly not many people are doing what I'm doing!

true_spokes25 karma

Do the songs of hummingbirds vary much between species? If so, any notable voices?

CaroleTurek37 karma

The song of every one is different! Some of the differences are subtle, but they are all different, just like other birds. I can't say that there are notable ones, the are mostly little chirps of different pitches and cadence. But if you have one bird that is a different species than the rest at your feeders, you can definitely tell when he's around because you can hear the difference!

kawaiiasfluff25 karma

Have you seen the movie "The Big Year" with Steve Martin, Owen Wilson and Jack Black?

CaroleTurek34 karma

I have seen it. I even own a copy of it on DVD!

Satan-Turtle16 karma

What species of hummingbird are you most looking forward to photographing?

CaroleTurek38 karma

There are a few. In December I will try to photograph the Juan Fernandez , a critically endangered hummingbird found only on Robinson Crusoe Island, a tiny island way off the coast of Chile. I also can't wait to go to Bolivia to see the Red-tailed Comet and to southern Colombia to try to find a Chiribiquete Emerald, a bird that is extremely hard to find and probably only a handful of people have seen.

CaroleTurek26 karma

Sorry, the bird is the Juan Fernandez Firecrown.

kaseypatten14 karma

Did you go to Sierra Vista on your Arizona trips?

CaroleTurek20 karma

No I did not. I went to Madera Canyon and Ramsey Canyon and Ash Canyon.

kaseypatten10 karma

Never been to Madera, but Ramsey and Ash canyons are amazing.

CaroleTurek12 karma

I also make the obligatory mission to Patagonia to see the Violet-crowned Hummingbirds there!

TheKentuckyRifleman13 karma

Do you know what your doing is as fascinating as it is beautiful?

CaroleTurek15 karma

Thank you so much! What I am doing is a labor of love!

sweetestting13 karma

What all countries have you been to photograph hummingbirds?

CaroleTurek28 karma

So far I have been to Costa Rica, Honduras, Ecuador, Peru three times and Colombia three times,

249ba36000029bbe97499 karma

Peru three times and Colombia three times

Is this because you have to go to different regions of the same country? Or is it because you went but couldn't find the species you are looking for? Do you have a set schedule and just take as many as you can or do you wait until you get the one(s) you're looking for before returning?

CaroleTurek34 karma

Those countries are pretty big and the birds are in different areas. Colombia alone has 168 species of hummingbirds. That is more species than I have photographed so far! Some trips are specifically for certain hummingbirds, like the last trip to northern Colombia. I am currently planning one in southern Colombia to find two other very rare ones. Sometimes you just have to keep going back. I didn't find the one I was looking for in Ecuador so I will be going back next year. I know someone who has been there five times and not seen the one I am looking for.

8erren11 karma

Whereabouts in southern Colombia are you going?

Great AMA thanks

CaroleTurek19 karma

The proposal is being drawn up right now. But one of the places would be Araracuara. There are some rare ones around there.

8erren9 karma

Wow had to Google that. It's waaaaaaay off the beaten track

CaroleTurek19 karma

That's what you have to do when you want EVERY species!

ghostofyourmom9 karma

My entire family is from Colombia (Cali). It's such a beautiful country. Do you speak fluent Spanish? Do you have trusted contacts to organize and assist in your travels there? Or do you do the "lone traveller" thing (which can be somewhat dangerous)?

CaroleTurek19 karma

I do not speak fluent Spanish, but I am trying to learn. I go everywhere with a personal guide from Honduras and he is the one who arranges all of my trips. There is no way I would do this alone. When I hiked up to get the Helmetcrest I had a support team of six people. I am actually dreaming about moving to Cali. I LOVE it there!

jorph11 karma

How do you finance such a quest? I love it!

CaroleTurek31 karma

Well, I've been working for 35 years (and still work) and I never had the privilege of having children.

RedTexas2311 karma

Are hummingbirds just endemic to Central/South America or will your travels take you to Asia and Africa?

And what’s the “hairiest” situation you’ve found yourself in so far? (I.e. where you faced a particular challenge or threat getting to or back from a remote site).

So impressed with the passion you have for this.

CaroleTurek23 karma

Thank you so much! The are endemic to the Americas, so all of my travels are to Central and South America now. There aren't even any hummingbirds in Hawaii (although they would do well there).

The only time I was a bit nervous so far was in Peru. We were on a small boat and had to go four house down one of the headwaters of the Amazon to photograph the Festive Coquette. That was four hours downstream. Duh. I wasn't thinking how long it would take to get back. Upstream took us TEN hours to get back because we hit a storm and the captain said it was too dangerous to proceed. I was sitting under a piece of heavy plastic mentally singing the theme to "Gilligan's Island" over and over in my head, because I was SURE I would going to get stuck there.

joseefsharif10 karma

Have you been to Guatemala? I lived there on and off for a couple years in a village called San Pedro on Lake Atitlan. I believe the local name of the village was humming bird on the water. Needless to say the place is rich with hummingbirds and they feature heavily in local lore.

Have you ever seen a Quetzal? Not a humming bird but pretty dang cool.

CaroleTurek12 karma

I have not been to Guatemala yet. I am planning on going. I have seen the Resplendent Quetzal twice. Magnificent bird. I don't usually photograph many other birds, but I DID photograph that one!

JUICEfromtheBOX11 karma

When you travel, do you go with a personal guide to these places to photograph or is it more “I’ll do it myself” type situation?

CaroleTurek22 karma

I usually go with a personal guide that comes with me on all my trips (William Orellana of Beaks and Peaks, Honduras) and also usually have a local birding guide. I would never have gotten half of the pictures I have if it were not for the guides.

whateverpieces10 karma

I live in SW Ohio and recently we’ve had a female ruby-throated hummingbird visiting our feeder and the nearby honeysuckle bush. Any recommendations for other hummingbird-friendly plants or other additions to the backyard to make it hummingbird-friendly?

CaroleTurek25 karma

i'm not sure what grows in your area, but hummingbirds love tubular flowers. Salvia, Bee Balm, Fuschia are favorites. Your best bet is to ask at your local garden center about native plants for hummingbirds. They are likely to know what grows well in your area.

fiendishrabbit10 karma

150 out of 350?
What's your early average of adding new ones to the list?

Do you think you'll be able to finish this project before health&such gets in the way of those trickier locations?

CaroleTurek33 karma

My first trip out of the country was to Honduras in July of 2018. So I photographed most of those birds in just under two years. Finishing this project will be a lifelong challenge. Fortunately, I have good genes. My mother lived to 97. The trickier thing is not going to be my health, but political situations. There are some endemic hummingbirds in Venezuela. I have to wait for a regime change to get in there. Other rare ones just happen to be in a small area surrounded by coca fields. I really don't want to get shot over this!

ixfd649 karma

Are you willing to release some of your images under a Creative Commons or other free license?

A lot of species-related articles on Wikipedia are currently lacking images. It would be great if we access to more sources of freely licensed images of species.

CaroleTurek15 karma

I went onto Wikimedia Commons and put a picture of a female Snowcap hummingbird because the picture they have on the Wikipedia page is not a female Snowcap, but a female Crowned Woodnymph. I wrote to them and told them they were picturing the wrong bird. I had friends write. I tried to get them to change it to my correct picture. No luck. I gave up.

desmera_redwyne8 karma

I work at my local Wild Birds Unlimited and we always have bird cams playing on the TV in our store. We’ve been watching your cam lately and our customers love it!

In our area we only have Ruby-Throated hummingbirds, and they are extremely territorial about feeders. Your hummingbirds seem to share and get along much better! What’s the secret?

CaroleTurek6 karma

Wow! I'm so happy to hear that! My hummingbirds don't really get along, I see them fighting all day long on the balcony, But they do "tolerate" each other on the feeders. I think part of it is that I have generations of birds out there. The feeders are kept full with fresh food and the feeder are kept squeaky clean. They know there is a reliable food source with plenty of food for everyone. Every once in a while, though, I will notice one feeder with a stable level of food. If I watch I will see one hummer that is able to dominate that feeder for a while. It never lasts, though, as there are too many birds out there!

thatSpicytaco8 karma

2 things, amazing photography, I paint humming birds in my spare time, I would really love to paint one of your photos and show you. Second, what’s the best feeder liquid food for them? I live in New England, I have the red feeder with the red liquid food but I can’t attract them :(. I attract tons of other birds with my other feeders.

CaroleTurek12 karma

The red food is very bad for them. Throw it out and don't buy it again, haha! Make your own. It is much cheaper and better for them. Four parts water to one part sugar. That's it. Once a hummingbird finds your feeder, it will keep coming back unless the food is no good. If you hang a feeder, you must change the food daily when it is hot outside and you must keep the feeder clean. Mold and bacteria will harm them. The other thing you can do is just plant hummingbird friendly flowers on your property.

ZhenHen8 karma

Hi Carole!

I love birding and I’m just getting into photography as well. Do you have any tips for us novices in which camera settings to use to bring out the best in our bird subjects?

CaroleTurek19 karma

There is no standard for camera settings, because each location has different lighting. On my balcony it is glaring nonstop sunshine. In the cloud forest it is always pretty dark. It takes a lot of experimentation. To tell you the truth, my earlier photos - especially of my first trip to Peru - I look at some of my photos and cringe. I would love a do-over of that trip so I can use different camera settings in those same situations. I learn more every trip I take. It just takes practice. Obviously you need to use faster shutter speeds to slow down or stop the wings, but you never want your ISO to creep too high, especially when you are in darker conditions. Thank goodness for today's software where you can actually manipulate the graininess you get from high ISO's a bit!

ZhenHen8 karma

Thanks for the reply! It’s an absolutely fascinating goal you’ve set yourself and I wish you the best of luck!

CaroleTurek14 karma

Thank you so much! I met a woman in Ecuador whose goal it was just to see 300 hummingbirds. She was at 296. Her advice to me was "get the hard ones first." That's why I went after the Blue-bearded Helmetcrest now. I had to do that hike before I got any older!

snappergapp8 karma

That's brilliant, seriously. I'm jealous

First off, how are you?

Have you partaken this task for any other animals before, or will you do that after the hummingbirds?

CaroleTurek10 karma

No, just hummingbirds! With 350+ species to photograph, I don't have time for other animals. I have gone to Ithaca, New York to photograph the Red-tailed Hawks that are a famous pair from their webcams, though.

snappergapp3 karma

That's so cool!

Apart from seeing the birds, what's your favourite part of it?

CaroleTurek3 karma

Getting to go to remote areas and eating local food!

Bats-inHats8 karma

Hi Carole! I'm in Northern Ontario, Canada and in the summer months we have a healthy population of hummingbirds. Over the last few years we've witnessed what seems to be them "fighting", are hummingbirds territorial? I know for a fact this year, there are two hummingbird nests on opposing sides of our front yard (maybe 150ft apart). We have multiple feeders and flower set up for them but they always seem to be fighting eachother? Unless it's potentially mating? Any advice or information regarding this?

CaroleTurek16 karma

One of my videos is about managing territoriality in hummingbirds. Yes they are very territorial. Their life depends on finding a food source and protecting it. The only way to manage it is to "create territories!" It sounds like you have already done that by hanging several feeders. You have to be creative in how you hang them, though. Any you can get out of eyesight of the other feeders helps. also hanging them at least 10-15 feet apart preferably in a straight line also helps. You have to make it hard for one bird to protect everything you've got out there!

alex1mi7 karma

What got you interested in hummingbirds?

CaroleTurek12 karma

I hung a hummingbird feeder just because I thought it would be nice to see one. That was 25 years ago. Then I hung more. And more. That was the beginning of the obsession! They are such perfect little creatures and I just loved to watch them fly and chase each other. The photography thing didn't start until a few years ago.

pixelkarma7 karma

Do you have a photo book or are you planning to write a book?

CaroleTurek20 karma

Time. Most of my energy is now going into the YouTube Channel. People today are much more interested in video than books. And with video it is more like I can take people along with me on my travels.

printergumlight6 karma

1) Which hummingbird is most rare?

2) Which hummingbird that you have photographed is most rare?

3) Are hummingbirds found in all countries?

4) Which hummingbird do you most want to photograph (that you haven’t already)?

5) Do males and females look the same? Can you tell them apart yourself, easily?

6) Which bird is your favorite that is not a hummingbird?

CaroleTurek10 karma

The one I just photographed in northern Colombia is probably the most rare. It was thought to be extinct until five years ago and they estimate that probably only 50 specimens exist. That's the Blue-bearded Helmetcrest. Another one, the Turquoise-throated Puffeg which is in southern Colombia has not been seen for many years and is thought to be extinct. If anyone finds one, that would probably be the most rare. Hummingbirds are found only in the Americas. North, Central and South. They are not even in Hawaii. There are a couple that I want to photograph very badly. The Juan Fernandez Firecrown, the Black-bellied Puffleg and the Chiribiquete Emerald. Probably only a handful of people have even seen the last one. Males and females usually look quite different, but in species like the Giant Hummingbird they look the same. The only way I knew one of the Giant Hummingbirds I photographed was a female is because she was gathering nesting material. My favorite bird that is not a hummer is the Red-tailed Hawk. I owe my webcam to the Cornell Red-tailed Hawk webcam. I spent many hours watching that pair and got the idea to put the webcam on my feeders from them!

billwrtr6 karma

Thank you for a most enjoyable AMA, Carole. I live in Sacramento. I have a hummingbird feeder at my window. In winter the Annas hbs have me refilling the bottle every few days. Now in summer, the rare birds I see are at nearby flowers. Since you’ve lived in this area, are there other varieties besides Anna’s that are likely to appear here?

CaroleTurek6 karma

In Sacramento you are much lower in altitude than I was up in Tahoe. In Sacramento, Anna's, Allen's and Black-chinned hummingbirds should be there. You would also see Rufous there during migration. They should be coming down from the north at the end of July.

willdabill6 karma

Have you discovered anything new about the kinesiology of hummingbirds using your photographs? I think their physiology is so interesting and I know for a fact animal photographers are some of the best resources for discovering new things about biomechanics

CaroleTurek10 karma

I have not discovered anything new with my photos. There are a lot of researchers out there studying lots of things about hummingbirds and we have so much to learn about many of the different species. But I am not an ornithologist (although I number a few of them among my friends) so it is not my main thrust. I just want to see them and take pictures. I try to get good pictures with very good feather quality in the shots.

dc8888886 karma

Hi Carol, These hummingbird lived at my backyard for about 6 weeks from eggs to leaving the nest. I’m located in Phoenix, AZ. Can you tell what type they are? I believe the adult ones has a shiny green back color. Thanks! hummingbird nest

CaroleTurek7 karma

Oh wow! What a beautiful picture. It is very hard to tell the species from the look of the nestling, but the birds you would have in your area are mainly Costa's and Anna's. These are not Anna's nestlings because they would not have that orange in their beaks. Costa's nestlings I think have a little orange. Broad-billed definitely do, but a Costa's female has a white breast and green back. I'm not the nestling expert though. If I were to lay $20 down I would guess it is a Costa's. Have you seen a male around? They have beautiful purple gorgets with a long "moustache" look.

the-ugly-potato6 karma

Do you do other things on your travels? Or is it get off the plane get to the hotel get a picture of the humming bird and get on the plane? How much has this cost you? What is something you wished you knew before you took on this endeavor

CaroleTurek7 karma

These trips are all about photographing hummingbirds, with breaks only to eat, sleep and download pictures onto the hard drive! This costs a LOT. Not only the travels, but I had help building the website and I have a full-time video editor helping me with the YouTube videos of my travels. I don't even want to think about what it costs. That's why I can never retire, lol.

the-ugly-potato6 karma

Do you plan on opening up a patreon? Or selling your photos? Is there any plans for other birds?

CaroleTurek5 karma

No plans for other birds than wanting to photograph a Harpy Eagle when I go to Panama. I also love Raptors, but they are not my main focus. If I see a hawk, I will photograph it. I am looking into Patreon. I do have a store attached to my website that has some of my pictures on things like Christmas ornaments, cups, etc. I don't sell much, but it's there.

MasteringTheFlames6 karma

That's why I can never retire

What's your day job, and how do you schedule your hummingbird excursions around it? How many days (weeks? Months?) is your typical trip for this hobby?

CaroleTurek10 karma

When I go it is usually for three weeks. I have people that substitute for me when I go away. I am an anesthesiologist.

atoano445 karma

Your pics are amazing! Just gave you a follow on IG (atishbanerjeenikon)

I wanted to ask, how do you get the hummingbirds perched at eye level? What's your technique?

CaroleTurek5 karma

Thank you! Well, different places where I photograph have different conditions. The picture of the Lazuline Hummingbird on the opening page of my website was photographed from a balcony, so the bird was perched at eye lever. I have taken some photos with my camera pointing down like I was spying on them from above - that was at a place in Costa Rica that had feeders hung below a restaurant deck. A lot of times they do perch at eye level!

lmatamoros5 karma

Have you ever photographed the emerald hummingbird in Honduras? Is a very rare to find

CaroleTurek8 karma

I have very good pictures of the Honduran Emerald. I went out to find it with two very good guides who knows where a few of them hang out!

wdrub5 karma

Are you the Carole baskin of hummingbirds?

CaroleTurek8 karma

Well, she's a rescuer. I just wield a camera! I give that woman a lot of credit!

Starlordy-5 karma

Wouldn't it have been better to save that one for last?

CaroleTurek7 karma

I'm saving the easy ones for last. Remember my age. I can photograph the endemics in Jamaica when I am 90 years old. If I have to hike or climb, it better be now while I am in terrific shape!

Adeno5 karma

This is awesome! I'm curious, how expensive is this kind of wonderful adventure? What kind of planning was required? Thanks!

CaroleTurek8 karma

All I can say is it is VERY expensive. But I have never had the privilege of having children, so my finances are different than most people. I am also 70 years old and still working. I can never retire if I want to keep this up!!

Adeno3 karma

Happy adventuring! Who knows, maybe you'll discover a NEW type of hummingbird :D

CaroleTurek4 karma

That would really be sensational!

249ba36000029bbe97495 karma

Given the rarity of the Blue-bearded Helmetcrest, is it safe to assume that no one else has seen or photographed all different species? Do you think that you might discover a new species?

CaroleTurek8 karma

There are a lot of hummingbird photographers who have photographed far many species than I have. But most of them have been doing it for a long time. I just started this endeavor in July, 2018 with my first trip to Honduras. But now (before Covid) I take four to five major trips a year just to photograph them. Discovering a new species is always possible in the Amazon. Unlikely, though. Discovering hybrids is always a novelty. We did find a cross between and Empress Brilliant and a Buff-tailed Coronet. Very unusual!

KitchenPrincess4 karma

Thank you for doing this AMA, I am not a bird person per se, but this is really cool! I apologize if this had been asked as I haven't scrolled through all the comments yet, but what was the feeling or thought you had when you found and witnessed such a rare bird?

CaroleTurek9 karma

I broke out in tears. It was a very emotional experience for me. Especially after what I had to do to get there!

KitchenPrincess4 karma

Thank you so much for sharing that Carole. Congratulations on such a great achievement, both personally and globally. I hope for many more in your future.

CaroleTurek3 karma

Thank you so much!

JungleeJamun4 karma

Hi Carole, I am very excited to see all your videos. I have just started birding an year ago and I know how exciting it is. While photographing hummingbirds, did you get any photobombs from other birds?

CaroleTurek3 karma

Usually the photobombs are from other species of hummingbirds!

1Desmadre34 karma

What camera, lens, and which gear do you often take on your treks?

side note, there was recently an episode on the podcast Stuff You Should Know which covers hummingbirds. Really piqued my interest.

CaroleTurek8 karma

I will have to check out that podcast! I am now traveling with two cameras - Nikon D500 and Z7 and two lenses - Nikkor 500mm f/5.6 PF and the 70-200 f/2.8.

FutureJojo4 karma

Did you see the new Pokémon Snap?

CaroleTurek5 karma

No I didn't!

AshyJay074 karma

I’m not sure if it’s already been asked but what sparked your interest in hummingbirds. Why them over any other species of bird?

CaroleTurek8 karma

Hummingbirds are so different from other birds. They fly more like insects. They are the only bird that has shoulder joint that can give them lift both on the up and down strokes. When you watch hummingbirds fly and then watch other birds, it almost seems like other birds don't fly very well, haha. I just love watching them hover, fly backwards, even upside down. They are such fabulous little birds!

princessSnarley3 karma

Aside from feeding the sugar water, what other was are there to encourage hummingbirds to nest nearby? I’ve yet to ever see a nest.

CaroleTurek6 karma

i have hundreds of hummingbird on my property and I have never seen a nest here either. I know they are nesting, because I see baby birds on the feeders. They are very prolific and really don't need our encouragement. The females usually lay up to three clutches of two birds each year!

leahsuxxx3 karma

Why are my humming birds fighting over one spot on the feeder when there 4 spots???

CaroleTurek4 karma

Hummingbirds are very territorial. When they find a food source they fight for it. Are you saying that both birds stay around and fight for the one spot? Usually one bird will fight for the whole feeder and he may favor the one port.

witandsass3 karma

is there a minimum amount of attraction features I should have in my yard to encourage hummingbirds? we had slowly developed a little group of three-to-five adults in past years, but our bee balm died back this year for unknown reasons. we haven't seen any on the sugar feeder at all.

I saw your suggestion for hanging feeders 10-15 feet apart to discourage territory disputes, which would make it hard to fit another feeder in our space, but I really miss them and I'm impatient about waiting until we get our flowers to bounce back.

CaroleTurek12 karma

Hang RED on the property. Don't make the food red with dye, but tie some red ribbons or hang red cloth around so passing hummingbirds can spot your property. You can also provide insect for the ones you have by hanging a mesh bag with your banana peels to attract fruit flies for them.

ThePrinceOfThorns3 karma

I like their lil feet. 6 cups water to 1 cup of sugar or vice versa? And I heard dont put food coloring in it!

CaroleTurek8 karma

Four cups water to one cup sugar is recommended. And only refined white sugar. Cane preferably. Natural sugar contains iron, which they cannot metabolize. And NEVER red dye or any other color dye. I did a whole YouTube video on the dangers of red dye. Thank you for asking!

doctor_prof3 karma

What is your favorite color? And what is the airspeed velocity of an unladen hummingbird?

CaroleTurek7 karma

European or African?

Armadillo193 karma

This is so cool. What is your favorite type of camera for wildlife photography? What type of hummingbird that you haven't seen do you most want to see?

CaroleTurek7 karma

I'm a Nikon person and I'm currently using two different cameras: The D500 and the Z7. I really want to see the Black-breasted Puffleg. I have already looked for it once and didn't find it. I was supposed to go back to Ecuador to try to find it again in May, but naturally I had to cancel the trip.

Armadillo194 karma

I wish you luck in your endeavors! I bought my house specifically because it's on wetlands and when I went to see it for the first time there were loads of redheaded woodpeckers, which are pretty rare where I'm at. My goal is to turn the property into a little sanctuary, hummingbirds and all. I've been keeping a list of life birds, including those I've seen on my property, and it's been a really great hobby to get involved with. I'm typing this as I have some owls hooting out back, and heard the elusive northern saw whet the other day. Ha, sorry for spewing all this, but few people get a kick out of these things!

CaroleTurek6 karma

Fantastic! I had a Great Horned Owl on the roof of my house outside the bedroom window. It would wake me up at 4am!!!

Gene-Representative3 karma

Have you considered that your goal would be more attainable if you helped eliminate hummingbird species?

CaroleTurek3 karma

hahaha - burn the Amazon! Keep logging! Somehow it seems that these little birds fight for survival is very strong.

Itsmydouginabox3 karma

Hi, if you are still doing this AMA, I'd love to know if the humming bird I have on my arm is a true species or just a representation.

Do you recognize this species?

My wife's grandmother was pretty special to me and loved hummingbirds. In her memory, my wife and I got hummingbird tattoos from different pictures/artwork she had in her house.

Thanks for your time!

CaroleTurek7 karma

It looks like it is pretty close to a Golden-tailed Sapphire.

blorkflabblesplab2 karma

Have you taken a picture of a bobtail?

CaroleTurek2 karma

No. I'm strictly about hummingbirds!

AteTooManyCookies2 karma

For the rare hummingbirds, how long have you spent waiting to see one? What is a typically outing like?

Have you thought about publishing a book with short stories of your experience capturing their photos and high resolution large photos of the birds? My grandmothers would love looking at that. I already sent them the link to your website 😁

CaroleTurek4 karma

For the Blue-bearded Helmetcrest we had a six-day outing to film the one bird. We spent all day in its territory. A lot of the birds I have photographed so far are not that rare. I have gone to Ecuador once already to try to get the rare Black-breasted Puffleg and failed. I was supposed to go back there again this past May, but had to cancel. I people who have been there five times already and have not seen the bird. You have to have patience as well as luck. But I will keep going until I find it and photograph it. I have been known to stand in one spot for six hours taking pictures of a bird I've found.

CaroleTurek4 karma

Thank you for sending the link. I know this is a subject all of its own, but I think the internet has made obsolete a lot of things we used to take for granted. I know people still buy books, but more people, especially our younger friends want to see video. After starting my YouTube channel I have gained so much respect for the young people who have channels on YouTube. I know now how much they have to work! I probably spend 50 hours a week on my channel - picking out pictures, video, editing (even with a full-time editor helping me), coming up with new content, etc. Everything I do now I think is better done in letting people "come along" on my trips through video. Right now I am catching up by producing videos of my past trips. But future ones will be very video intense. I hope to give people the feel of what it is like to come with me. That's what the recent Colombia video was about. I hope people who watch that will feel like they hiked those 18 miles along with me.


Hi carol I find your passion awesome and I am a very big fan of birds, but mostly in the outdoor setting. Believe it or not I bought my very first hummingbird feeder TODAY (just some crap from Walmart, if I get birds I’ll upgrade). How long does it typically take a hummingbird species to discover and frequent a feeder? For reference there are apparently ruby throated hummingbirds in my area, but I have never seen one

CaroleTurek2 karma

When I first moved here and put out one feeder it took about a week for a bird to find it. Good luck!

StarRaptor2 karma

What is your favorite movie and why is it The Big Year?

CaroleTurek2 karma

My favorite movie actually doesn't have anything to do with hummingbirds. It is "A Man for all Seasons" and I've probably seen it 25 times. The Big Year is about seeing as many birds as possible in one year. Great movie for birders!

disdainfulsideeye2 karma

Recently noticed hummingbird that comes through our garden in the morning. Can I put out a saucer of sugar water for it, or is it best to simply let it slip from the garden flowers?

CaroleTurek3 karma

Maintaining feeders is a lot of work. Saucers are not a good idea. If a hummingbird gets sugar solution on its wings, it can inhibit its flight. If you don't want to manage a feeder (it does require work keeping it clean) planting flowers for them is absolutely the best approach. That is how they have survived for millions of years!

Neapolitan2 karma

What's the name of your African Grey? And how does he/she handle you traveling all the time?

CaroleTurek3 karma

Her name is Fillmore. We thought she was a he which is why she has a guy name. We had her for seven years and then surpprise! She laid an egg. Fillmore is very sociable and loves my husband and my housekeeper. She is really happy to see me when I get back, but she certainly is not traumatized by my being away. We have had her for nearly 30 years.

TKDbeast2 karma

I heard that most hummingbird feeder contents are basically sugary water. Is this good for the hummingbirds? Is there a better solution than the store-bought kind?

CaroleTurek2 karma

Yes. The store-bought kind is terrible. It has preservatives and often red dye. Making your own out of refined white sugar (preferably cane sugar) and water is the best thing to do. Four parts water to one part sugar. Remember, the sugar water is the same thing they find in flowers. It is not their food. It is their gasoline. They are powered by sugar to go after their real food, which is INSECTS.

[deleted]1 karma


CaroleTurek8 karma

hahahahaha - No, I have a well-paying job, and I am still working at age 70 to afford to pay for my trips! I can never retire!!!

249ba36000029bbe97498 karma

Have you approached any companies about sponsorship? Camera and accessory companies might be interested in giving you some gear in exchange for mentioning their product.

Or setting up a Patreon for your work?

CaroleTurek7 karma

Patreon is a good idea, but I don't think I'm known enough for that yet. I use Nikon and they already have a general birder they sponsor. I should have a vitamin company sponsoring me because of my age and ability to do what I do, haha.

CaroleTurek6 karma

But seriously, I AM looking into Patreon.

tallblues-5 karma


CaroleTurek10 karma

Interesting question. There are actually a lot of African American birders. Remember, birding is a worldwide phenomenon, including many many African birders.

tallblues-4 karma


CaroleTurek5 karma

Birders are actually the least racist people I know. We are all joined by our love of these creatures.