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.