Why a Hummingbird’s Gorget Glitters
Written by Bob Sundstrom
That is BirdNote. [Call of male Ruby-throated Hummingbird]
When a perched male Ruby-throated Hummingbird raises its head towards the solar at simply the suitable angle, its throat glitters like a crimson highlight. When it turns its head barely, the hen’s throat now not gleams. It seems colorless, darkish.
A hummingbird’s good throat feathers are referred to as its “gorget” (pronounced GOR-jit). The time period comes from days of outdated, when a knight-in-armor wore a metallic collar — or gorget — to guard his throat. The hummingbird’s intense glint is the results of iridescence, moderately than coloured pigments. The hen’s throat-feathers include minutely skinny, film-like layers of “platelets,” set like tiles in a mosaic towards a darker background. Mild waves replicate and refract off the mosaic, creating shade within the method of solar glinting off a movie of oil on water. [Song of male Anna’s Hummingbird]
Hearken to this male Anna’s Hummingbird, placing his glitter to work: [Song of male Anna’s Hummingbird]
There he goes! Diving in show towards the feminine. He plunges downward nearly vertically, reaching large velocity. Then, he ranges off and heads straight into the solar, which makes his gorget glow with iridescent brilliance.*
Like a tiny knight in shining armor. [Song of male Anna’s Hummingbird]
You may see a photograph of a hummingbird’s gorget at BirdNote.org. I’m Mary McCann.
Hummingbird sounds supplied by The Macaulay Library of Pure Sounds on the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Ruby-throated Hummingbird  recorded by R S Little. Anna’s Hummingbird recorded by T.G. Sander.
Anna’s Hummingbird show “chirp” recorded by C. Clark and A. Varma, U.C. Berkeley
Ambient monitor recorded by Kessler Productions.
BirdNote’s theme music was composed and performed by Nancy Rumbel and produced by John Kessler.
Producer: John Kessler
Government Producer: Chris Peterson / Dominic Black
© 2015 Tune In to Nature.org March 2018/2022 Narrator: Mary McCann
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* Paraphrased from: Skutch, Alexander F. and Arthur B. Singer. The Lifetime of the Hummingbird. Crown Publishers: New York, 1973. (Skutch and Singer 1973:64-65)