Along the Natchez Trace

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Birds of a Feather....

I've written before about bird feathers...  especially the gorget (throat feathers) of hummingbirds.  Pigment doesn't make the throat feathers appear black, or red, or purple, but it's kind of like looking through a prism and seeing rainbows...  the light refraction creates an iridescence in the arrangement of feathers.  

So when the light hits the hummingbird just right the throat will appear a brilliant color, instead of the flat black you just saw.

Light is only one influence...  moisture is another factor.  I think there are some other things that can be involved, but let's keep this simple.

Now...  where we're at the most likely hummer we'll see is the Black-chinned Hummingbird.  Unless the light hits it just right, it's chin is going to look black...  but oh my!  When the light is right...

This really doesn't do the bird justice....  lousy shot of the bird, but does show the gorget looking blue here.  Most of the time we see a violet color...  not red nor blue, but a lovely purple.

We have a lot of activity around the bird feeders, especially when the weather is cooler, overcast, and today, kind of misting rain a bit.

All day I've been watching a particular bird at the back feeder...
Hey...  what's with the red gorget?
We could possibly have Ruby-throated Hummingbirds here, but haven't seen any so far.  I know I've been seeing the same bird all day as he has declared the back feeder as his own.  He sits about 6' from it and dive-bombs any other hummers that happen along.  He's been at it for at least 8 hours...  keep vigilance and launches his attacks.

Is the red created by the overcast weather?  An odd-ball bird?  
The shot on the left I took this morning...  the one on the right a couple of weeks ago.
(these are the kind of photos I don't usually post...  don't think I need to explain why)

I can just hear someone say "Hey Lady.. you need to get a life!"
But on a dreary day like today I might as well ponder some of life's little mysteries.

That's All For Today!


  1. There are only two kinds of humming birds that I know of in my area; the Ruby Throated and the Rufous. That one has to be the Ruby Throated, but I have never seen one look so blue. Great pictures, even if you don't think so.

  2. If it's the only picture you got, it's the only picture you have. I hope someone knows the answer.

  3. The one on the left with the red gorget for all the world looks like a Ruby Throated. We get them here the end of July.

  4. You know what I think ... ;) I think it's a lovely thing ... watching birds all day. Never saw some of these guys... I just opened the dadblasted front door to close it... such a gorgeous Spring day here in little ol Little Rock! and THERE on the front porch is my cat, Boop... eating a mole. A freshly killed mole ... in the neck... first.

    I do not like it. gag a freakin damn ass maggot! I'll have to dispose of its poor little ol remains! She's been staying inside forever .. the weather's been so bad .. so what does she do on this gorgeous day! gag a maggot ... surely you can understand that I'd much rather be hummingbird watching ... dammit

  5. I get excited every time a hummer comes by and I get a shot. And if I get that neck COLOR? Wow, that makes my day. It's been a while since I've gotten a good photo of a hummingbird, but I'm sure there are some in my future. I've photographed the purple and red, but I don't think I've seen the blue gorget. Very, very pretty! :)

  6. What better way to spend a day? Your photos are gorgeous!

  7. I love the hummingbirds. Didn't I read once they have the longest migration of any bird? I could be wrong. But I can't imagine such a high energy small bird being able to migrate, due to how small they are, how "energetic" and energy consuming their flight, how could they sustain on a long flight? I heard they go into torpor nights, to conserve energy. I'll have to look them up now and read it about it all again.

  8. I LOVE these photos and am glad you posted them. I like the life you got! I've mentioned before, I really miss hummingbirds!