Why Hummingbirds Can See A Color Spectrum That Humans Cannot
by Trisha Leigh
Hummingbirds are small and quick, flitting in and out of view in a way a colorful flash that can make you wonder whether or not you saw them at all.
But as beautiful as they are on the outside, what’s going on inside those tiny little bodies is arguably even more amazing.
Humans perceive around a million different colors using the cones and rods in our eyeballs to process the red, green, and blue spectrum of light, but the happy little hummingbird bird (and most other avians) possess retinal cones that distinguish the non-spectral ultraviolet dimension of light.
This gives our flappy friends an entirely extraordinary and diverse experience of sight and perception outside of the palettes of which we are familiar.
As in, the color UV green is something that exists in their reality and tuned to their senses.
This also means that while human eyes can catch the red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo violet of the rainbow, there are more colors that exist within a light spectrum that we literally can’t see.
Hummingbirds use these extra cone perks to find their preferred food, their preferred mate and to avoid predators.
So hummingbirds are most likely seeing a world of dynamic and intense color that a lowly human with only two weird opposable thumbs and no extra eye cones will ever get to experience.