Friday, February 15, 2008

Hummingbird color

If you were a female hummingbird would you say no to this gorgeous male? I think not.

Birds use pigments such as melanins, (also present in human skin) to produce blacks, browns, and yellows, in their skin and feathers, but the iridescent color of this male hummingbird is produced in a different way.

The structure of the feather itself is responsible for this brillent red/pink color found on the head, and throat of the male Anna’s humming bird. For this reason this type of color is refered to as “structural color.”
Look at his tiny feet! Hummingbirds are in family Apodidae which literally means no feet.

The iridescence in the feathers is caused by light refracting off the feathers. The feathers act like a prism. They split the light into different colors. Look at the pictures below, at some angles no light is reflected back to one’s eye so the bird’s head looks black. However when he turns his head…wow…amazing shimmering color seems to burst from his head. It's hard to believe this is the same bird, but all these photos were taken today at Bolsa Chica within a few seconds of each other.

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