Female hummingbirds have evolved with bright plumage that protects them against male aggression.
Hummingbirds might look cute but their lives are filled with aggression. It has been observed that some female hummingbirds have evolved to avoid this aggression. They have adopted the bright plumage of the opposite sex.
Researchers from the US have captured 400 white-necked Jacobin hummingbirds. They have caught them in Panama.
The Female Hummingbirds In The Research
They found that a quarter of the female hummingbirds had similar plumage to the males. They had blue heads, white-tails, and white bellies. The Female Jacobins are duller in comparison to the males and show a muted green, black or grey hue. It helps them blend into their surroundings.
The researchers had experimented and observed that such aggression was avoided by the females. The males portray aggression during feedings, like body slamming or pecking.
The researcher studied the captured birds and found that the young Jacobins had flashy hues. The juvenile birds usually resemble the corresponding sex of adult birds, generally.
Jay Falk believes that something was at play as all the female hummingbirds started looking like adult males. As their age progresses 20% of females keep the plumage while the rest turn back into their drab plumage.
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It is believed that flashy plumage has evolved as an indicator of competition for mates. In this case, the females were not retaining that colorful plumage when they were mature and looking for the opposite sex for mating. Falk stated that sexual selection was not the reason behind it.
The researchers found out that social selection and competition for food were the main reason behind such a change rather than the competition for mates. People had the notion that hummingbirds are cute little birds that drank nectar from the flowers but they are constantly fighting with one another as aggression is a big part of their lives.