Journal of comparative physiology

, Volume 130, Issue 3, pp 209–220 | Cite as

Discrimination of colors by the black-chinned hummingbird,Archilochus alexandri

  • Timothy H. Goldsmith
  • Kenneth M. Goldsmith
Article

Summary

The color vision of a population of black-chinned hummingbirds was studied by behavioral methods. Birds were attracted to feeders equipped with tungsten lamps and interference filters. Results are based on counts of approximately 5700 visits by 92 ± 5 birds. Population size was estimated by mistnetting and marking 29 hummingbirds, 22 of which could be recognized individually during the course of the experiments.

Following experience with red (620 nm) at all feeders, the birds showed a modest tendency to visit red (620 nm, 650 nm) and blue (490 nm) rather than intermediate greens and yellows. When sugar was presented at only one wavelength, however, choices became much sharper.

When positions of the feeders were randomized, trained birds selected feeders on the basis of hue. Brightness was not used as a significant cue. This finding thus provides a more rigorous demonstration of color vision in hummingbirds than has heretofore been available.

Either position or color could be learned in several hours (6–22 visits). Red (620 nm) and green (546 nm) were learned at the same rate. Two different (and opposing) color associations could be learned simultaneously at sites approximately 30 m apart.

Discrimination of hue was measured following training to each of four wavelengths: 620, 590, 546, and 480 nm. Light from interference filters with transmission maxima at 546 and 550 nm were differentiated by the birds to a statistically significant extent. 546 and 590 nm appear to lie near the boundaries of hues; a boundary near 540 nm is found in pigeon but not human color vision.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Béné, F.: Experiments on the color preference of black-chinned hummingbirds. Condor43, 237–323 (1941)Google Scholar
  2. Béné, F.: The role of learning in the feeding behavior of black-chinned hummingbirds. Condor47, 3–22 (1945)Google Scholar
  3. Bent, A.C.: Life histories of North American cuckoos, goatsuckers, hummingbirds and their allies. Bull. US Nat. Mus.176, 352–361 (1940)Google Scholar
  4. Blough, D.S.: Spectral sensitivity in the pigeon. J. Opt. Soc. Am.47, 827–833 (1957)Google Scholar
  5. Blough, D.S.: The shape of some wavelength generalization gradients. J. Exp. Anal. Behav.4, 31–40 (1961)Google Scholar
  6. Blough, P.M.: Wavelength generalization and discrimination in the pigeon. Percept. Psychophys.12, 342–348 (1972)Google Scholar
  7. Blough, P.M., Riggs, L.A., Schafer, K.L.: Photopic spectral sensitivity determined electroretinographically for the pigeon eye. Vision Res.12, 477–485 (1972)Google Scholar
  8. Bowmaker, J.K.: The visual pigments, oil droplets and spectral sensitivity of the pigeon. Vision Res.17, 1129–1138 (1977)Google Scholar
  9. Boynton, R.M., Gordon, J.: Bezold-Brücke hue shift measured by color-naming technique. J. Opt. Soc. Am.55, 78–86 (1965)Google Scholar
  10. Collias, N.E., Collias, E.C.: Anna's hummingbirds trained to select different colors in feeding. Condor70, 273–274 (1968)Google Scholar
  11. Darwin, C.: The effects of cross and self fertilization in the vegetable kingdom. New York: Appleton 1877Google Scholar
  12. Delius, J.D., Emmerton, J.A.: Visual performance of pigeons. In: Neural mechanisms of behavior in the pigeon. Granda, A.M., Maxwell, J.H. (eds.). New York, London: Plenum Press 1979Google Scholar
  13. Donner, K.O.: The spectral sensitivity of the pigeon's retinal elements. J. Physiol. (Lond.)122, 524–537 (1953)Google Scholar
  14. Faegri, K., van der Piji, L.: The principles of pollination ecology, 2nd ed. New York: Pergamon Press 1971Google Scholar
  15. Gould, J.: An introduction to the Trochilidae or family of hummingbirds. London: Gould 1861Google Scholar
  16. Graenicher, S.: On humming-bird flowers. Bull. Wisc. Nat. Hist. Soc.8, 183–186 (1910)Google Scholar
  17. Graf, V.A.: A spectral luminosity function in the pigeon determined by flicker photometry. Psychon. Sci.17, 282–283 (1969)Google Scholar
  18. Granda, A.M., Yazulla, S.: The spectral sensitivity of single units in the nucleus rotundus of pigeon,Columba livia. J. Gen. Physiol.57, 363–384 (1971)Google Scholar
  19. Granit, R.: The photopic spectrum of the pigeon. Acta Physiol. Scand.4, 118–124 (1942)Google Scholar
  20. Grant, K. S.: A hypothesis concerning the prevalence of red coloration in California hummingbird flowers. Am. Nat.100, 85–97 (1966)Google Scholar
  21. Grant, K.A., Grant, V.: Hummingbirds and their flowers. New York, London: Columbia Univ. Press 1968Google Scholar
  22. Ikeda, H.: The spectral sensitivity of the pigeon,Columba livia. Vision Res.5, 19–36 (1965)Google Scholar
  23. Kerner von Marilaun, A.: The natural history of plants, their forms, growth, reproduction, and distribution. London: Blackie & Son 1895Google Scholar
  24. Lyerly, S.B., Riess, B.F., Ross, S.: Color preference in the Mexican violet-eared hummingbird,Colibri t. thalassinus (Swainson). Behavior2, 237–248 (1950)Google Scholar
  25. Miller, R.S., Miller, R.E.: Feeding activity and color preference of ruby-throated hummingbirds. Condor73, 309–313 (1971)Google Scholar
  26. Muntz, W.R.A.: Inert absorbing and reflecting pigments. In: Handbook of sensory physiology, Vol. VII/1. Dartnall, H.J.A. (ed.). Berlin, Heidelberg, New York: Springer 1972Google Scholar
  27. Pickens, A.L.: Favorite colors of hummingbirds. Auk47, 346–352 (1930)Google Scholar
  28. Pickens, A.L.: A red figwort as the ideal nearctic bird-flower. Condor43, 100–102 (1941)Google Scholar
  29. Poley, D.: Experimentelle Untersuchungen zur Nahrungssuche und Nahrungsaufnahme der Kolibris. Bonn. Zool. Beitr.19, 111–156 (1968)Google Scholar
  30. Raven, P.H.: Why are bird-visited flowers predominately red? Evolution26, 674 (1972)Google Scholar
  31. Riggs, L.A., Blough, P.M., Schafer, K.L.: Electrical responses of the pigeon eye to changes in wavelength of the stimulating light. Vision Res.12, 981–991 (1972)Google Scholar
  32. Romeskie, M., Yager, D.: Psychophysical studies of pigeon color vision. I. Photopic spectralsensitivity. Vision Res.16, 501–505 (1976)Google Scholar
  33. Scheithauer, W.: Hummingbirds. New York: Thom. Y. Crowell Co. 1967Google Scholar
  34. Schimper, A.F.W.: Plant geography upon a physiological basis, (English translation). Oxford: Clarendon Press 1903Google Scholar
  35. Schneider, B.: Multidimensional scaling of color differences in the pigeon. Percept. Psychophys.12, 373–378 (1972)Google Scholar
  36. Sherman, A.R.: Experiments in feeding hummingbirds during seven summers. Wilson Bull.25, 153–166 (1913)Google Scholar
  37. Stiles, F.G.: Taste preferences, color preferences and flower choice in hummingbirds. Condor78, 10–26 (1976)Google Scholar
  38. Wagner, H.O.: Food and feeding habits of Mexican hummingbirds. Wilson Bull.58, 69–132 (1946)Google Scholar
  39. Woods, R.S.: The hummingbirds of California. Auk44, 297–318 (1927)Google Scholar
  40. Wright, A.A.: Psychometric and psychophysical hue discrimination functions for the pigeon. Vision Res.12, 1447–1464 (1972)Google Scholar
  41. Wright, A.A., Cumming, W.W.: Color-naming functions for the pigeon. J. Exp. Anal. Behav.15, 7–17 (1971)Google Scholar
  42. Wright, W.D., Pitt, F.H.G.: Hue discrimination in normal color vision. Proc. Phys. Soc. (London)46, 459–473 (1934)Google Scholar
  43. Yazulla, S., Granda, A.M.: Opponent-color units in the thalamus of the pigeon (Columba livia). Vision Res.13, 1555–1563 (1973)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1979

Authors and Affiliations

  • Timothy H. Goldsmith
    • 1
    • 2
  • Kenneth M. Goldsmith
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Southwestern Research StationAmerican Museum of Natural HistoryPortalUSA
  2. 2.Department of BiologyYale UniversityNew HavenUSA

Personalised recommendations