Hummingbird Colors: The Colorful Spectrum of Hummingbirds

Colorful Annas Hummingbird hovering and feeding

The various hummingbird colors could definitely make a rainbow jealous! But there’s a lot more to these colors than just good looks. 

Hummingbird colors are super important for their survival. They help these little guys attract mates, scare off enemies, and even sneak past predators without being noticed.

Giddy to learn more about the hummingbird’s colorful spectrum? Check out the rest of this detailed guide!

How Many Hummingbird Colors Are There?

Small and colorful hummingbirds perching on a tree

Hummingbirds are like nature’s glitters with their eye-catching colors. But more than making them look pretty, these colors help them survive, attract mates, and hide from predators.

The wide range of colors of the hummingbirds include the following:

  • Various shades of green, including metallic and emerald
  • Blues, from bright to dark
  • Reds, from copper to rose
  • Yellow
  • Purple
  • Orange
  • Pink
  • Black
  • Whites and grays
  • Browns, including reddish and metallic bronze

Hummingbirds also have a trick up their sleeve. Their feathers can bend light and create shifting, iridescent colors that change with your viewpoint. 

This means a hummingbird might look one color now and a totally different color seconds later.

Fun Fact: Did you know hummingbirds hold the record for the most diverse plumage colors among birds?

Researchers from Yale University found that hummingbirds display a range of colors 56% wider than any other bird species, including some vibrant greens and blues not visible to the human eye. 

Colorful Hummingbirds of North America

North America is home to some of the most stunning hummingbirds. Each species brings its own splash of color to the landscape. Let’s check out some of these colorful hummingbird species of North America!

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Ruby throated Hummingbird in flight

The Ruby-throated Hummingbird is a gem of the East. Males have a bright red throat that glows like a ruby in the sun. Their backs are shiny green and blend perfectly with the leaves as they zip from flower to flower.

Anna’s Hummingbird

Annas Hummingbird sitting on the edge of a tree branch

Out west, Anna’s Hummingbird shines with its pinkish-red throat and head. The color is so vivid it looks like these birds dipped their head in a rose. The rest of their bodies are sleek and greenish-gray.

Check out this video of an Anna’s Hummingbird while changing colors:

Dazzling With Color: Anna’s Hummingbird

Black-chinned Hummingbird

Black chinned Hummingbird in flight

The Black-chinned Hummingbird has a subtle elegance. Their throat is black, but in the right light, it flashes purple. 

Their body is a mix of green and gray, which allows them to vanish into the shadows of their desert home.

Rufous Hummingbird

Rufous Hummingbird perched on top of a branch

The Rufous Hummingbird is a ball of fire. With their orange-red bodies and bright green wings, they look like flying embers. They’re fierce defenders of their territory, and their colors seem to match their bold personality.

Costa’s Hummingbird

Costas hummingbird feeding on a flower

A Costa’s Hummingbird is a desert jewel. The males boast a brilliant purple cap and throat that stand out against their pale gray bodies. They sparkle like amethysts under the desert sun.

Allen’s Hummingbird

Allens hummingbird feeding upside down on a flower

The Allen’s Hummingbird is similar to the Rufous but has its own unique charm. 

The males have a fiery orange-red throat and a green back, which makes them look like they’re always in bloom. They’re most often seen darting among the flowers along the Pacific coast.

What Makes Hummingbirds Colorful?

Hummingbirds get their colors from the way their feathers interact with light. This means as light hits their feathers, it’s bent and split into colors, much like a rainbow. 

Hummingbird feathers contain tiny, hollow structures filled with melanin, which is basically the same stuff that gives our skin its color. 

But unlike in our skin, in hummingbirds, these granules are flattened and stacked neatly. 

When light hits a hummingbird’s feather, it travels through these layers of melanin. Depending on the angle of the light and the observer, different colors bounce back. 

I personally witnessed how this interplay of light and feather structure came to life while having coffee in my backyard a few weeks back. 

As I sat there, a Ruby-throated Hummingbird fluttered by and changed its throat color from a brilliant red to almost black as it shifted direction. 

It then plunged into the hummingbird bird bath I prepared before hitting the skies again.

Do Hummingbirds Change Colors?

Hummingbird approaching a yellow flower

Yes, hummingbirds change colors, but not in the way you might think. They don’t change their colors like a chameleon changes its skin. Instead, their colors change because of how light interacts with their feathers.

When a hummingbird moves, the angle of light hitting its feathers changes. This change in angle alters how we see the color. 

Generally, this shifting of colors serves a purpose in the wild. It can help a hummingbird attract a mate by showing off its brightest colors or hide from predators by blending into its surroundings. 

The changing colors can make a hummingbird seem like it’s vanishing or appearing out of thin air.

The Role of Colors in Hummingbirds

Hummingbird colors are not just for show; they’re vital for their survival, social interactions, and well-being. Each color and pattern has evolved to serve specific purposes, which are listed below.

Attracting Mates

The vibrant colors of hummingbirds, especially in males, play a key role in courtship. Brightly colored feathers catch the sunlight and create a dazzling display designed to attract female attention. 

This visual spectacle is a sign of health and good genes and makes the male more appealing to potential mates.

Territorial Defense

Bold and bright colors also serve as a warning to rivals. A hummingbird with more vivid colors often signifies a strong and healthy individual capable of defending its territory aggressively. 

This visual cue helps reduce physical confrontations by discouraging less dominant males from entering an occupied feeding area or territory.


While bright colors might seem counterintuitive for hiding, they can help hummingbirds blend into their floral and foliage-rich habitats

Green and brown tones mimic leaves and branches, helping hummingbirds avoid detection by predators. In certain lights, their iridescence can even resemble the shimmering of moving water, further aiding in their disguise.


Darker hummingbird colors absorb more sunlight and provide warmth in cooler climates or during early mornings. 

This adaptation is crucial for maintaining the high metabolic rate hummingbirds need to sustain their rapid wingbeats and energetic lifestyle.

Male vs. Female Hummingbirds

Male and female ruby throated hummingbird on a courtship display

When it comes to hummingbirds, males and females don’t just look different; their colors tell a story. 

Male hummingbirds are the show-offs since they’re decked out in more iridescent hues than their female counterparts. They use this to catch the eye of females and to intimidate other males. 

Their dazzling throat patches, or gorgets, which can flash colors like emerald green or fiery red, are like billboards advertising their fitness as mates. 

In other words, they signal health, vigor, and genetic quality to potential partners.

On the other hand, female hummingbirds sport more subdued tones. Their feathers tend to blend into their surroundings and offer them camouflage while they nest and raise their young. 

This protective coloring helps keep them and their offspring safe from predators. 

If you want to learn more about differences between male and female hummingbirds other than color, check out this guide.

Frequently Asked Questions

Hummingbird sitting on top of an orange flower

What Are Hummingbirds’ Favorite Colors?

The favorite colors of hummingbirds are typically red and bright pink colors. These hues are thought to signal rich, nectar-filled flowers, making them favorites for these tiny birds. 

However, hummingbirds will visit flowers of other colors, too, as long as they offer nectar.

What Is the Rarest Color of Hummingbirds?

The rarest color in hummingbirds is true blue. While some species display blue iridescence, a hummingbird with predominantly blue feathers, like the Blue-throated Hummingbird, is quite rare in nature. 

Most hummingbird colors tend toward greens, reds, and purples due to the way their feather structure refracts light.

Is There a Rainbow-Colored Hummingbird?

There isn’t a hummingbird species that displays all the colors of the rainbow in one plumage. 

However, the Fiery-throated Hummingbird comes close. Its feathers shimmer in a range of colors from green and blue to orange and red when the light hits them just right, which creates a rainbow-like effect.

I hope you find this guide on hummingbird colors very informative! Please share your thoughts and comments below or ask us questions if you have any.

Leave a Comment

You may also like