I'll be the first to admit that I'm not a great photographer, but what I can say is that I understand hummingbirds extremely well. I spend an enormous amount of time watching and studying their behavior to the point where you recognize patterns in everything they do. How they interact with each other, directions they come and go, how and what they feed on, resting locations, temperatures when they're more active and so much more, allows you to develop a significant knowledge about every part of their existence. When you see something that really stands out, it's worth recording. Over time you start seeing similarities that reoccur time and again, and with enough time invested in studying each intricacy, you're able to draw very accurate conclusions. My point in this is that once you understand their behavior, it allows you to understand the locations that a hummingbird will return, the time span between each visit, the amount of time it'll spend at each flower or feeder, and this will allow you to prepare your temporary photo station. When the hummingbirds first arrive in Spring I don't grab my camera and start chasing hummingbirds around the yard. I watch and observe their favorite perches, flowers, feeders, and measure the time between each. When you know this information more accurately, you'll know the amount of time needed to set up and capture some images.
Ultimately these are creatures of habit. Although each one is unique in behavior, they're not that complicated to understand.
Secondly, know your camera. I believe that most people don't understand even half of what their camera has to offer, whether cheap or expensive. It's a great idea to take pictures under every setting and under every light condition to determine pros and cons of each one. This is a mistake I made repeatedly. You will have a very limited time when the opportunity arises. You have to be ready with the right setting or you'll miss it. Trust me, I've missed far more pictures than what I've captured, and those are the ones that really hurt.
Finally, anticipate their next move. They can hop so quickly from one flower to another that by the time you point, focus and shoot, they're at the next flower. So read the situation seconds ahead. Anticipate their next move and focus on that next flower. This allows you a few more seconds to focus on exactly what you want for when that moment arrives. That moment may be very short, but you'll be expecting it.
Author of Jewel of the North. Please post your comments and questions.