You often notice hummingbirds whizz past bright flowers while making sudden changes in their flight pattern. These quick movements through the air is certainly not possible without having good eyesight or else they would bump into a lot of things nearby. However, their sense of smell is not very good which further means that these whimsical fliers rely mostly on vision to locate food sources.
It turns out hummingbirds tend to see colors like we do. What’s more, they can even see ultraviolet light too, giving more colors to their life.
Once they spot bright colored flowers, it gives them indication that these flowers may contain dainty snacks inside.
Birders notice that these tiny birds often flock to red flowers more which makes them believe that they should install red flowers on their feeders. However, do they really get attracted to the red color? Let’s find out!
Learn More: How To Attract Hummingbirds To Your Yard?
If we compare ourselves with other birds, it wouldn’t be wrong to call ourselves color-blind. This is because a human’s retina contains three color cones, sensitive to red, green and blue light. However, birds can also detect UV light, which means they have an extra color cone. It means birds can see many other colors that we can only dream of.
Thus, we can see all the spectral hues of the rainbow but not the non-spectral hues. Hummingbirds, on the other hand, can recognize a wide variety of non-spectral colors too. Despite the fact hummingbirds often flock to red colors, there are many other colors that appeal to them as well.
Hence, it’s no surprise if you see a hummingbird making a beeline for the feeder with red accents in your backyard. They possess a pretty dense concentration of cone cells within their retinas, and these cells are heightened with red and yellow colors. These retinas have pigments and oil droplets. Since these cone cells filter out other colors, it makes the red color even more vivid.
Basically, these filter-like pigments and droplets tend to enhance sensitivity to color shades within the range red to yellow. This is why they can pick out red, orange or yellow colors more easily.
Add Red in your Backyard
Learn More: Best Glass Hummingbird Feeders
To sum it up, researchers find out that it’s not about the colors, but the content of sweet nectar that really makes the most difference for these iridescent flashy birds. Due to their opportunistic nature, they will seek out nectar-rich food sources, especially tubular-shaped blooms. The reason being, such kinds of flowers are naturally suited to their long bills that resemble needles. So the next time you see these tiny sprites zipping by and seemingly hovering around red or yellow flowers, put on your thinking cap because they may be seeking out food sources with a lot of nectar instead (and not after the red colors!).