Why Do Hummingbirds Like Red? Can Hummingbirds See Other Color?

Birds attracted to specific colors have always been fascinating creatures. The hummingbird is one such creature that is associated with the bright red color. 

Why do hummingbirds like red?

Hummingbirds are assumed to like red because red stands out more to them than other colors. The birds have higher sensitivity towards red and yellow because of the presence of cone cells in higher concentrations in their retinas. 

The cone cells enable the birds to filter out other colors except red and yellow. Therefore, making hummingbirds see the red color even brighter and more vibrant.

Goldfinches and Bee-eaters! x
Goldfinches and Bee-eaters!

The other reason behind the assumption of hummingbird’s likeability towards red is the observation that birds often feed on red flowers and flowers that these birds pollinate are often red.

This is because, over years of evolution, both the nectar-rich flowers and the hummingbird have taken advantage of the hummingbird’s eyesight and coloration. 

Hummingbirds when they visit red flowers and find them rich in nectar, they conclude that red indicates a good nectar source. To attract the hummingbird, flowers evolved to have bright red color so these birds visit the flower and pollinate. 

Both the conditions show that a hummingbird’s likeability towards red is a conditioned response. The color does not matter a lot to hummingbirds as all they care about is the location and availability of nectar.

Can hummingbirds see all colors? 

Hummingbirds can see a variety of colors including yellow, blue, orange, green, pink, purple, and some non-spectral colors such as ultraviolet+red, ultraviolet+green, and ultraviolet+yellow that even humans cannot see. 

Hummingbirds can easily distinguish between different colors. With great color detection powers, hummingbirds can detect the difference between Ultraviolet+green and pure green or pure ultraviolet. The birds are gifted with an additional dimension of color vision.

What is a hummingbird’s favorite color?

The red color is believed to be the favorite color of hummingbirds as the birds have a natural preference for red. They can easily locate red flowers and feeders. Moreover, these birds associate the color red with rich food sources.

The brighter red color stands out of all the other colors to hummingbirds, making it special and a favorite of these birds. The intensity of the color is preferred more by the hummingbirds than the paleness of color. Therefore, red has made more preference.

Are hummingbirds more attracted to red?

Hummingbirds are more likely to be attracted to red as they have come to expect rich nectar sources when they observe the bright red color. The red color seems to be the indicator of high-energy food to hummingbirds.

This expectation of hummingbirds is due to the past experiences that they had with red color. The flowers and the feeders that hummingbirds visit tend to be red and seem to provide high nectar resources. Therefore, the birds build a memory regarding red color. 

The birds are more likely to attract and investigate the red flowers and feeders than those with any other color because of the experiences they have built up. 

It wouldn’t be wrong if we say that hummingbirds are more concerned with the availability of nectar sources than the color. 

Are hummingbirds attracted to blue?

Hummingbirds are not attracted to blue color as the color appears too dull to them. 

Due to the presence of higher cone cells, the birds can see red, yellow, and orange more specifically. Therefore, the cones act as a filter for them. The filters enhance the colors like red but diminish colors like blue.

However, if the blue-colored flower has rich nectar for hummingbirds, it will receive the birds despite being blue. One such flower is Salvia Mexicana which has dark blue hues. This blue flower serves nectar to hummingbirds.

Do hummingbird feeders have to be red? 

Hummingbird feeders do not have to be red because it is not the color that plays an important role but it is the presence of nectar sources that matters most to them. Despite being of any color, the feeders will attract the birds if it has rich nectar.

The birds will visit feeders and taste the nectar present in them. If the nectar has a perfect ratio of sugar just as the birds prefer,  it will receive hummingbirds. The preferred concentration of sugar in nectar by hummingbirds is around 20 percent.

Do hummingbirds only like to go to red feeders?

The birds may get attracted to the red-colored feeders first, but afterward, they will visit the feeders with other colors as the hues make no difference.

Do hummingbirds like red flowers?

Hummingbirds are likely to visit red flowers and Red Nectar as these red flowers serve as a rich source of nectar to them. The red flowers such as Geraniums, Petunias, Begonias, Hibiscus, Roses, Verbena, etc. mostly receive hummingbirds during their blooming periods.

The red flowers have the same concentration of sugar (20 percent) that the hummingbirds prefer. The other colored flowers have a lesser level of sugar concentration (5-15%), making them less likely to be fed by hummingbirds. 

Hummingbirds are seen on red flowers more because the other potential pollinating birds or insects are less likely to attract red color, making the red flowers retain their nectar specifically for hummingbirds. 

One of such pollinators is bees that cannot find the red flowers easily. The red flowers might have evolved to be avoided by the bees for pollination because of their weak pollinating skills. Therefore, this way they conserve their nectar for preferred pollinators, that is the hummingbird. 

Thereby the hummingbirds are likely to visit red flowers as they provide greater nectar rewards to them. However, the birds depend more on location than colors.

Conclusion 

Hummingbirds’ remarkable eyesight and great potential to distinguish colors make them more interesting. The birds may get attracted to the red color but the core reason for it is the availability of high-energy food sources. The color does not have much importance.

The red feeders may get noticed by hummingbirds from a distance but your feeder will anyhow attract them if it has sugary nectar for them.

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