This is another in the sporadic series on colour in nature. You can find the most recent one here and trace it back therefrom. However for this particular installment you might also like to cast a glance at the first posting on blue in nature; the reason for this is that iridescent colours - where parts of an animal appear to shine, and even to change colour with a slight change of viewing angle - are formed in somewhat similar ways to blue (and combinations of blue, such as give yellow and purple). The colours have nothing to do with pigments, but are down to structures in the feather or skin of the animal, which reflect certain wavelengths.
|Iridescent speculum in the wing of the Australian Pacific Black Duck Anas superciliosus.The photos above and below were of the same bird, taken just seconds apart.|
|Feral Mallard Anas platyrhynchos, Canberra.|
|Chiloé Wigeons Anas sibilatrix, Puerto Natales, Chile. |
The male is on the right.
|Male Muscovy Duck Cairina moschata, Manu NP, Peru.|
Even in the dull rainforest light which is my excuse for a poor photo, the iridescent back gleams.
|Mandarin Duck Aix galericulata, Taronga Park Zoo, Sydney.|
|Glossy Ibis, Jerrabomberra Wetlands, Canberra.|
|Hadada Ibis Bostrychia hagedash, Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda.|
A very familiar African bird, named for its compellingly loud call.
|Austral Parakeet Enicognathus ferrugineus, Cuevo del Milodon, southern Chile.|
The lightly iridescent head of this parrot is found further south than any other parrot's,
to very tip of South America.
|Common Bronzewing Phaps chalcoptera, Canberra.A very common bird, including in urban situations, across most of Australia.|
|Crested Pigeon Ocyphaps lophotes, displaying in central Australia.|
Another very common and familiar bird which probably thereby often fails to receive the admiration it deserves
(though this one wasn't interested in human admirers!).
|Spinifex Pigeon Geophaps plumifera, central Australia.|
The similarity of the display of these two species is striking.
|Squatter Pigeon Geophaps scripta, Mareeba, Queensland.|
|Asian Glossy Starling Aplonis panayensis, found across southern and south-east Asia,|
here at Sepilok, Sabah. Many starlings are gloriously iridescent.
|Common Starling Sturnus vulgaris, Canberra.|
An unwelcome exotic here, but the green to purple iridescence of the breast is still striking.
|Greater Blue-eared Glossy Starling Lamprotornis chalybaeus, one of the |
many stunningly iridescent African starlings.
|Ethiopian Swallows Hirundo aethiopica, Waza NP, northern Cameroon.|
Many swallows show such iridescence.
|The green iridescent sheen of the wing covers of the male Great Frigatebird Fregata minor is one feature that distinguishes it from similar species. Here on Genovesa, Galápagos.|
|Leaden Flycatcher male Myiagra rubecula, Canberra.|
This familiar bird catching the light took me by surprise; in most lights it's a more sombre and well, leaden colour.
|Malachite Kingfisher Alcedo cristata, Lake Mburo NP, Uganda.|
Kingfishers also commonly display iridescence, but I especially love the highlights of this one.
|Masked Flowerpiercer Diglossa cyanea, Yanacocha Reserver, Ecuador.|
These lovely birds 'cheat' by stabbing the base of a flower to steal nectar without
offering pollination services.
|Shining Bronze-Cuckoo Chrysococcyx lucidus, Canberra, one of the world's smallest cuckoos.|
All bronze-cuckoos have the strikingly iridescent wings.
|Superb Fairy-wren Malurus cyaneus, Canberra.|
One of south-east Australia's most familiar and loved birds whose iridescence
is often not recognised - until the sun catches them and 'flash'!
|Ruby-cheeked Sunbird (or just Rubycheek) Chalcoparia singalensis, Batang Ai NP, Sarawak.|
Many sunbirds are strikingly iridescent.
|Olive-backed Sunbirds Cinnyris jugularis, Cairns, Queensland.|
This species, Australia's only sunbird, is presumably a recent arrival, being also found through southern Asia.
I hope this has brightened up your day a little, as preparing it has mine.