Hummingbird Snack

Hummingbird Snack

There is something absolutely compelling about the color red to a hummingbird, that’s for sure, and when that red something happens to be a flower, the results are more than predictable.

I caught up with this hummingbird outside of Tucson, Arizona on a gorgeous spring day, and it was a perfect day for hunting down a flower for a snack. The buzzing of the wings first caught my attention, tugging at the periphery of my awareness, gently, yet incessantly, and eventually, yanking on it to get my full awareness. “Ah ha!” I though to myself, a hummingbird is near, but, by that time it was long gone. Hummingbirds are exceptionally fast and when they want to move along, they don’t waste any time. As I looked around, I wondered what had attracted the attention of the hummingbird; it didn’t take me long to spot a grouping of flowers, red ones no less, and figured that had to be it. I settled in for the wait.

This begs the question, however, of why do we think that hummingbird prefer red flowers? We don’t really know this answer, but science can make a few guesses. In short, it might well have to do with bees. Why bees? As it turns out, bees, as are all insects, see ultraviolet light, which in turn means that the color red doesn’t show up very well. Since they don’t see red, and especially red flowers all that well, those are largely ignored. Hummingbirds, however, do notice the red flowers, and visit them frequently. Whether this is by instinct or something every individual hummingbird quickly learns we don’t know, but either way the results are the same. Red flowers contains sweet, wonderful nectar and are well worth visiting.

It didn’t take long. I heard the distinct buzz nearby. I turned my head to try and find it, but saw nothing. Luckily, I had the sense to look back at the flower, and sure enough, there it was, happily enjoying another sip at the amazing nectar. I was ready, though, and made this photograph.

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