Magenta-throated Woodstar showing structural color. Photo by Eduardo Libby

Structural Color

There are some hummingbirds that hover smoothly and are easier to photograph in flight. I was lucky to come across a very pretty species in the Monteverde Cloud forest.

The very small hummingbird was the Magenta-throated Woodstar, but at first glance I could not see any magenta in its throat. It took a change in my position so the light wood hit the feathers at the correct angle and reveal its beautiful color.

Hovering Magenta-throated Woodstar. Photo by Eduardo Libby
Magenta-throated Woodstar hummingbird in the Monteverde rainforest, Costa Rica.

 

Magenta-throated Woodstar showing structural color. Photo by Eduardo Libby
Magenta-throated Woodstar hummingbird in the Monteverde rainforest, Costa Rica showing structural color.

Iridescent colors in hummingbirds come from light hitting very small structures in their feathers that reflect light of a specific color and do so in a very well-defined direction. This is called “structural color” to differentiate it from “pigment color” that reflects colored light in every direction.

Forgetting about the physics, the birder in me was very happy because I had not seen this species before, and the photographer in me was even happier because I got to share it with you!

 

If you have seen this species in Costa Rica, let me know where and when in the year so we can learn about its distribution.

 

 

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7 thoughts on “Structural Color”

  1. I was in Monteverde many years ago (oh, that scary bus ride—has it gotten any better?) and saw many different species of hummingbirds around feeders at a special hummingbird area. I’m sorry not to be able to remember which species I saw then. The only one we have up here east of the Mississippi is the Ruby Throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris), whose coloring is similar to your Magenta-throated Woodstar. Thanks for bringing back the memories—and for your lovely photograph.

    Liked by 1 person

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