hummingbirds and red.

P. C. Andrews
Mon, 02 Oct 2006 09:24:03 PDT
I haven't noticed a clear preference for any particular color either, at 
least under normal circumstances.  Red, brown, yellow, white, orange-  all 
seem visited as long as they produce nectar (although I don't remember 
seeing them go for the crinums).

I do have a strong memory of stepping outside one morning just 3 days after 
a hurricane stripped all leaves (& flowers) from plants and being mobbed by 
hummingbirds.  My bright red T-shirt seemed to fascinate them, as they would 
come within an inch and hover for a couple of seconds before darting off 
only to return minutes later.  Other colors did not seem to have this same 
attraction to them.  I guess both instinct and learning play a role in their 
preferences and when they are desperate, instinct becomes a stronger 
determinant.  The red shirt was only interesting for an hour or so, by then 
they learned and had other options.

Hummingbirds survive hurricanes fine, its the long absence of flowers 
afterwards that kill them.  I rigged up feeders, but over the next couple of 
weeks the number of hummingbirds diminished to none.  I hope this was 
through migration to better hunting grounds.  The gregarious bananaquits 
stuck around the feeders though.

Phil Andrews

>From: "Jim McKenney" <>
>Reply-To: Pacific Bulb Society <>
>To: <>,"'Pacific Bulb Society'" 
>Subject: Re: [pbs] hummingbirds
>Date: Mon, 2 Oct 2006 10:28:06 -0400
>I've always been skeptical of the claim that hummingbirds "prefer" red
>flowers. And it isn't only the anthropomorphic aspect of this argument 
>bothers me. I suspect that it is people who notice red flowers selectively,
>and when they are looking at the red flowers they notice what's going on
>around the red flowers. Thus, people are more likely to notice hummingbirds
>on red flowers than on dark, inconspicuous flowers.
>In this garden the hummers wait in line with the bumblebees to get to the
>dark flowers of Salvia guaranitica.
>I think Terry has it right: when you're hungry, color doesn't matter. (That
>line sounds like the punch line to a joke describing the first brave person
>who bit into a pizza.)
>Montgomery County, Maryland, USA, USDA zone 7 where I still vividly 
>my first childhood encounter with a pizza: between the smell and the
>road-kill appearance, I was extremely dubious. But, as Terry said, when
>you're hungry...
>pbs mailing list

More information about the pbs mailing list