Male Anna’s Hummingbird. Gilbert Water Ranch, Gilbert, Arizona. December 2015.
I saw a few hummingbirds when I went to Arizona last December. And when I looked through my photos, they were all male Anna’s hummingbirds. Male Anna’s have fancy magenta feathers on both their crown and throat. The colour is not a pigment, but a structural property of the feathers. When light hits the feathers at a certain angle, they appear magenta because this is the wavelength that is reflected. The magenta waves are also amplified by the feather surface, which is composed of layers of tiny air bubbles. When light meets the feathers at other angles, no light is reflected so they appear black. I didn’t photograph any hummingbirds whose crown and throat feathers were angled for full magentic splendor. Maybe some other time! You can read more about hummingbird iridescence on the Sibley Guides website.
J and I and J’s parents visited the Gilbert Water Ranch on a cloudy December day. It is an amazing place to see a large variety of birds. I mentioned it a while back when I posted some photos of Great-tailed Grackles I saw in the Phoenix area. The hummingbirds in the next two photos show a little bit of magenta.
I took a few sunny-day photos in the Mesa neighbourhood where J’s parents live. Lots of orange trees! This hummingbird kept his perch on an orange tree branch for a few minutes. He showed me a variety of profiles and varied his magenta highlights.