A perching male transforms from drab to brilliant with a toss of his head.

What’s happening: At first glance the male Anna’s Hummingbird (Calypte anna) is solidly green. Then with a twist of his head he reveals a flash of shiny red brilliance. This color show is made possible by the way the feather microstructure reflects light differently as the viewing angle changes.

During his spectacular aerial courtship displays, he advertises this red badge to female spectators by orienting toward the sun. This colorful element of surprise is key to his mating success.

This hummer is a familiar species in West Coast gardens, where it is present year-round. Monotypic. Length 3.5–4" (9–10 cm); bill 16–20 mm.

Identification Tail slightly rounded to double-rounded. Adult male: rose (fresh) to orange-red (worn) gorget and crown. Adult female: throat and underparts spotted and mottled dusky to bronzy green, median throat blotched rose-red.


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