When is a hummingbird not a hummingbird?

Posted: September 19, 2013 in Nature, Photos
Tags: , , , , , , ,

A few days ago, I spotted what I thought was a hummingbird partaking of a nectar smoothie from the out-of-control bush shielding our over-sized living room window. But once I got a better glimpse, I realized it wasn’t a hummingbird. Its body looked liked that of a giant bee, its wings moved like a hummingbird’s and it had a long, straw-like proboscis. An internet search revealed that I wasn’t the only person to be taken in by this imposter. Although strictly speaking, its name is Common Clearwing, its colloquial name is Hummingbird Moth.  And yes, its wings actually make a humming sound, at least according to the online information.  I couldn’t hear it through the window.

That was the easy part. Getting a picture was much more difficult. Every time I got near the window and readied my iPad, it was gone. After a number of tries, the day passed with no pictures. The next time was too dark. Finally today, it returned. I went into stealth mode, actually managing a few iPad pictures, but the wings were moving much too fast for even Apple’s vaunted camera. I hustled upstairs, grabbed my Nikon and waited patiently by the window.

The moth played coy for some time, hiding behind flowers or so far away I couldn’t zoom in close enough. But I finally got a few shots of this unique moth and, after enlarging and cropping, here for your viewing pleasure is the elusive hummingbird moth.



  1. Your persistence paid off! WOW!!!

    • Thanks! It just keeps coming back and I actually did see a real hummingbird out there, too, but that zoomed off much too quickly and I didn’t have the camera ready.


      • Janet, we’re new to one another and I look forward to knowing you. Have a great day! We’re blessed with so many gifts in nature.

      • Glad you’re here and I’m looking forward to getting to know you better, too. As for nature, God’s created some amazing things, that’s for sure, and for the most part, I enjoy seeing them. 🙂 Our trip through Yellowstone recently (lots of posts on that) was a chance to see nature close-up and beautiful, too.


      • In better moments of health; I look forward to spending some time reviewing your archives. It’s like a treasure hunt! Have a great day!

      • BTW, so glad you’re betting treatment finally! Praying that it goes well and per Bill’s suggestion, I’ll post the links for the Yellowstone posts in your blog if you like.

      • Thank you. I am praying to know my old physical self in time; meanwhile, friends carry me here through all I see and read. By all means, add in a link.

  2. mpejovic says:

    So cool! I saw someone sharing a photograph of that insect too on their blog a few months ago. I just can’t remember who it was…

  3. Looks quite threatening 🙂

    • If it were the size of a hawk, or even a pigeon, it would look much more threatening, although I could envision a good horror story of them trying to suck people’s brains out through their ears. 🙂


  4. Al says:

    I saw this on TV the other day. It’s a humming bird moth

  5. Al says:

    I read that after I posted my comment. I was fascinated when they had it on TV. So glad you managed to capture one on camera

  6. brainsnorts says:

    that looks creepy

  7. Angeline M says:

    Great photos…the second one is incredible!

  8. Helena Hann-Basquiat says:

    That is amazing, darling! I thought moths were nocturnal! (But then, I’m not entomologist, so what do I know?) Great pictures

    • From what I read, this moth is different. It even comes out in the rain, which I can attest to based on its appearance yesterday. I guess it’s the rebel moth. 🙂


  9. DCTdesigns says:

    Wow nice job with the stealth mode. That is not easy to capture. Love it!

  10. glad you caught it/ hate it when I have an idea for a shot and the subject leaves…

  11. vastlycurious.com says:

    GREAT CAPTURE Janet M. Webb 2013. All the stealth paid off ! Can’t believe you got the tongue in action !!

  12. Amazing shot! Gotta be really fast with the trigger to catch those guys. I saw them once by my butterfly bushes and was amazed, because they really do look like hummingbirds. What deceptive little moths they are!

    • Hi, Hannah. I think that moth wants to stick its proboscis into that ice cream you talked abut today! :-). They’re pretty amazing all right and I was thrilled to finally get a couple of decent shots.

      En ploy your weekend.


  13. hey
    i’m online for a very fast wifi and am glad to have seen this! wow, that’s a great post!

    i hope to be online on tues or wed in not so hurried mode!


  14. […] Although the bush doesn’t literally grow butterflies, it attracts them with enough frequency that it might as well.  It also attracts hummingbirds, bees of all sorts, and funky hummingbird hawk-moths. […]