Thursday, May 23, 2019


            Kim’s photographs typically use muted color. She does not like the overly bright Technicolor look that some photographers and their customers prefer, and she frequently tones down the color intensity on her computer. As in this one:

Dark-eyed Junco

            The last few days, however, this has been impossible, as we have been assaulted by the colors of birds that have returned to northern Michigan, and to our home. All of the photos below were taken through the windows of our house.

Northern Cardinal - not uncommon, but still . . .
Cardinals enjoying spring

Baltimore Oriole

Baltimore Oriole

Indigo Bunting

Purple Finch

Scarlet Tanager
(One of my favorite birding experiences occurred when the group I was with saw a girl ride by wearing a red sweatshirt, and I said, “Look! A scarlet teenager!” I’d been waiting more than a year to say that.)

Just as beautiful from the back . . .

Pine Warbler

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Red-headed Woodpecker

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

            All these photos show males. Females have a beauty of their own, but they apparently don’t need to show off as much.

Scarlet Tanager (female not scarlet)

Baltimore Oriole - more drab than her guy

Baltimore Oriole - but pretty spectacular for a female . . .

Ruby-throated Hummingbird - no ruby throat

Can you find the female Ruby-throated Hummingbird in this picture?

            What is it about color that assaults us so directly and powerfully? These birds mean it’s spring, but when Kim took these shots the temperature was still in the 40s – it did not feel like spring. I think it’s likely that the bright colors have evolved to attract females – hard to believe the colors help them find food or escape predators. Maybe that same attraction works on us?
Why have we evolved to be attracted to bright things – jewels, for example, which except maybe for diamonds are only valuable because they are attractive. And no, I’m not saying that I want to have sex with an oriole . . ..

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