Do All Hummingbirds Have Bright Throat Feathers?

Those who know me know of my love, passion and knowledge of hummingbirds, so as a result I am often asked various questions about hummingbirds. I enjoy the opportunity to share my knowledge of hummingbirds with others. A friend who has just begun learning about hummingbirds asked me “do all hummingbirds have the brilliant iridescent throat feathers?” Also, “why are these feathers so bright?” This discussion is what has inspired me to write this post and I hope you too will be enlightened by the information found here.

First of all, not all hummingbirds have the iridescent throat feathers. These brightly colored feathers are found only on male hummingbirds. If you are just beginning to study about hummingbirds let this fact serve to help you identify the sex of the hummingbird. The color of the throat patch on the hummingbird is not caused by feather pigmentation, but rather by iridescence in the arrangement of the feathers and the influence of light level, moisture and other factors.

The brightly colored throat feathers found on the male hummingbird serve two very important functions: attracting a female and defending their territory. Female hummingbirds find these feathers to be something that attracts them to the male while other males are repelled as a result of these feathers. Also, male hummingbirds are extremely feisty and territorial and these feathers are part of their territorial display.

The color of a hummingbird’s throat feathers can serve many functions. It can provide aide in helping you identify the sex of the hummingbird as well as helping the male attract a mate as well as defend his territory.

Dear Mom Hummingbirds

Are Hummingbirds Born With Feathers?

Are hummingbirds are born with feathers? I must admit that I never even considered this question until someone asked me this recently. I assumed, I knew the answer, but decided to do some research on the matter before answering the question. I am so glad that I took the time to research this topic or my answer would have been wrong. The surprising results of my findings are discussed in this post.

When baby hummingbirds are born they have no feathers and their skin is darker then that of an adult hummingbird. By the time the young bird is only nine days old it will be covered in tiny feathers and it will also be able to maintain its own body temperature, which the young hummingbird could not do prior to this. At only two weeks of age a young hummingbird will begin looking like an adult hummingbird.

As a person who has studied and discovered a vast amount of information on the subject of hummingbirds, I find it somewhat embarrassing to admit that I did not know the answer to this question without doing some research on the subject. This just goes to show that it is impossible for anyone to know absolutely everything about any given topic no matter their knowledge level on a particular topic. It is also one of the many reasons that I am continually fascinated by the subject of hummingbirds and why I always look forward to sharing all that I discover along the way with all the readers of this blog.

Lastly, I would have loved being able to share this information with my mom. This is the type of little known facts that would have certainly captured her attention. While you are often on my mind mom, thoughts of you seem to especially come to mind as I write the content for this blog, because our shared love and enjoyment of hummingbirds will always serve as yet another way of commenting us to one another.

Dear Mom Hummingbirds

Male Ruby-throated Hummingbird: More Red Feathers As It Ages?

It always amazes me how various misinformation or myths about hummingbirds get started and just will not go away. Today’s post was inspired by one such piece of misinformation and my desire to help try to set the record strait.

In spite of the fact the fact that may people believe otherwise, the male Ruby-throated Hummingbirds do not gradually grow in a greater number of red throat feathers as they age. This is false! The male Ruby-throated Hummingbird will molt just like other birds.

Here is a brief explanation of the term molt and why it is necessary. The process of molting is when a bird will loose their feathers a few at a time. This will occur symmetrically or one from each side in order not to affect flight. How long the process takes to complete varies from weeks or months depending on the time of year it is occurring and the species of bird. This process would not be noticeable to the casual birdwatcher.

Hummingbirds will begin to molt between September and November. It will then take several weeks for each feather to regain its size and shape.

Why is molting necessary? Molting allows the bird to replace their worn out feathers with new ones. Feathers are vitally important to the bird. The feathers help provide weather protection for the bird and in some bird species (not hummingbirds) the molting process can even help the birds attract a mate.

It is possible for some immature males have a few scattered red throat feathers in late summer or early fall, but the their full red gorget is not grown in until they are ready to migrate northward from their Central American breeding grounds. Maybe this fact explains why many people mistakenly believe that male Ruby-throated Hummingbirds grow in a greater number of red throat feathers as they grow older.

This post brings to mind my mom, who I am quite sure would be very interested in the topic of today’s post and who would likely be surprised by the answer as well. It is my hope that you too will be fascinated by the subject of today’s post as well.