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What's the Difference?

These two hummers were photographed in Melbourne, Florida two weeks ago. Both are male Ruby-throated Hummingbirds. Why do they look different? Their gorgets (throat colors) look different at the moment the camera captured the shot because sunlight is hitting each bird's gorget at a different angle. The brilliant iridescent colors of hummingbird plumage are caused by the refraction of incident light by the structures of certain feathers. These structures split light into its component colors, and only certain frequencies are refracted back to your eyes. When the angle or amount of sunlight changes, the colors will look different.

Two male Ruby-throated Hummingbirds
Photo: Vicky Floyd