HUMMINGBIRDS UP CLOSE; The National Audubon Society; by Nature Science Network, Inc. (1988)

Hummingbirds Up Close covers 13 to 15 U.S. species (the tape says 13 while the box says 15), is 55 minutes long, and is narrated by Michael Godfrey. Hummingbirds’ video is (as is true with all of this series) inconsistent including both good and mediocre footage. However, Hummingbirds (the first in the series) offers the best use of maps and other illustrations. Thus, despite being the first in the series, Hummingbirds Up Close is the best of the lot (although it still suffers from a generally amateurish approach).

Unlike the rest of the Up Close series, Hummingbirds explains how to identify the species shown. Of particular interest is the explanations of how to separate female Black-chinned and Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, how to separate adult male Allen’s and Rufous Hummingbirds, and how to tell a male Broad-tailed Hummingbird by sound. Unfortunately, other segments feature backlit shots, and the all too common weakness of this series, out of focus shots.

The use of distribution and migration maps is good, as is the use of illustrations explaining the brightness of the throats of most male hummingbirds. Other good information includes why hummingbirds do not walk, what to feed them, what types of feeders to use, and how to prepare and maintain hummingbird feeding stations.

On a scale of 0 (truly worthless) to 10 (the outer limit of human ability), I rate Hummingbirds Up Close a 6½. It has decent video and information, offers the best use of maps and other visual aids, and (unlike the others in this series) explains how to identify its subjects. Unfortunately, it also suffers from poor footage, and is generally an amateurish production. However, it is not excessively priced at $29.95 (especially given that NJAS/CMBO members can get it at a discount).

Mike Hannisian

6-5-98