Black and White Hummingbird?

This dull-colored bird was sitting in a pine tree across the street this week.  It looks like a hummingbird, but aren’t they supposed to be colorful?

Now that’s more like it!  A very colorful bird, indeed.  But wait a second- it’s the same bird!  That’s right.  Hummingbirds don’t actually have any coloring.  But if their bodies are angled just right towards the sun, the sunlight breaks up as it reflects off of their feathers.  This is why we see such intense colors sometimes, but other times we see nothing but black, white, and gray.

The red mark on this bird’s throat is a good indication that this is a female Anna’s Hummingbird.  The male’s entire head is red, like this photo below that I took earlier in the year.

Below is the female again, drinking nectar from this daylily.  Hummingbirds are able to hover in place because they flap their wings very, very quickly (40 to 80 times per second, depending on the type of hummingbird).

  1. Beautiful! I love the hummingbird pictures – it takes talent (and luck) to capture the color reflection in the sunlight. I never knew that hummingbirds were greyscale – I assumed some just had brighter colors than others. Great pictures and info – thank you for sharing slugyard!

  2. They are pretty drab sometimes, but what’s cool is when they angle the throat feathers just right in order to send out a flash of color. Great shot of the male Anna’s “whiskers!”

  3. They are amazing jewels of the sky aren’t they Mike? Thanks for the explanation on their colors. Another amazing fact is that the male Anna’s Hummingbird performs a “dive display” during their courtship, and position themselves between the female and the sun to reflect their colors to her. I wrote a post on the male dive display here.

  4. I knew the sun is what caused the Ruby-throated Humminbird to have a red throat but I’ve never seen one look black and white or gray before. I guess I’ve just been lucky with the light in our backyard which is where we have a couple of feeders set up for them.

  5. Had to drift down to this post. I have been mesmerized by the hummers at my feeders this week, their high-speed life and that is an understatement. Of course, I live in Tennessee, and my visitors are all Ruby-throats. Wonderful to see your images of Anna’s. BTW, love your blog name!

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