These Female Hummingbirds Masquerade as Males
Illustration by Jillian Ditner
December 16, 2020
Hummingbirds are one of the very few known groups of birds in which females of some species develop male-like plumage patterns. In the case of the White-necked Jacobin, a small tropical hummingbird, about 1 in 5 females molts into plumage that’s virtually indistinguishable from males’. All juveniles look like males, too.
Research by Cornell Lab of Ornithology PhD candidate Jay Falk suggests that looking like males may give females (and juveniles) an advantage at securing food resources, as other hummingbirds may be less likely to tangle with a male which they perceive as more aggressive.
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