Researchers in the Central American rainforests have made a remarkable discovery: some female hummingbirds disguise themselves as males, leaving their females alone more than the opposite sex.
Biologists have discovered that in the animal kingdom males usually wear colorful and sparkling clothes, the situation seems to be different for hummingbirds. They hunted 436 white-necked hummingbirds in the rainforests of Panama. About 20 percent of adult female birds did not have gray plumage, but they were colorful – just like their male counterparts.
The researchers suggested two scenarios. The first option is for females to plant colored feathers to attract males of their own kind. In the second scenario, the opposite happens. Bright colors keep the males at a distance, so that the females are less disturbed by undesirable behavior. Biologists suggest that this gives them more time to search for food and protect their food supply.
“Bright color is associated with aggression,” said University of Washington researcher Jay Falk. National Geographic. “Looking like a male seems to deter bullies.” The research was published today in the journal Current Biology.
Researchers have made another remarkable discovery: all young animals have brightly colored plumage, which is not uncommon in birds. Some females got gray plumage at a later age.
According to biologists, this finding supports the theory that brightly colored disguise protects females from whistling. After all, young (brightly colored) birds cannot reproduce yet and there is no point in being attractive. But if they knew how to frighten the congeners, it would help them survive.
Biologists have seen the conclusive evidence in the ultimate preference for males. They paid more attention to gray-haired females.
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