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Ruby Throated Hummingbird by MrClean1982 via Flickr
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Ruby Throated Hummingbird by MrClean1982 via Flickr

Iridescence and I go back a long way. When my family visited my grandparents in Texas, I was plunged into an alternate universe from my home in Canada, clearly signaled by the red plastic hummingbird feeders that my grandmother hung in the backyard. Filled with red sugar water, the mock flowers enticed the Ruby Throated hummingbirds, and I was transfixed by the iridescence at their throats.


I didn’t know it was called iridescence, of a surface taking on different hues from different angles, just that my eye went right to it. We didn’t have hummingbirds in Edmonton, but I did have a supply of eyeshadow, and was particularly taken with one that flicked between gold and green. Eyeshadow was as alluring as the hummer’s throat. I didn’t really understand makeup as a way to attract boys, but rather a palette of color and sparkle and transformation.


And now it appears that bees are drawn to floral iridescence, concentrated in the ultraviolet range, beyond what our human eyes can see. So not only do they see “bee purple” but in iridescent glory. Perhaps I was meant for iridescence, since my name “Margaret” means Pearl, and pearls have layers that refract light like tiny prisms, bringing forth all the colors of the rainbow. The rainbow does not have to be bright; it can be subtle like this shell swirl by honey 77.


  1. Only male hummingbirds have the brilliant iridescent throat feathers. It is only the outer third of the feather that is actually iridescent. These feathers serve two very important functions: attracting a female and defending their territory. They use these to display to one another. Females find it attractive, and other males are repelled. Male hummingbirds are extremely feisty and territorial and these feathers are part of their territorial display.

  2. Snowcatcher says:

    This post showed up in your LinkWithin when I was checking out your Wordless Wednesday, and I couldn’t resist clicking on the hummingbird. GREAT photo! And this is a fabulous post. Fun learning more about what makes you tick, but also learning more about the color/light spectrum. Thank you!

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