Data from: It's not just what you have, but how you use it: solar-positional and behavioral effects on hummingbird color appearance during courtship



Animals exhibit a diversity of colors that can play key roles in mating interactions. However, we presently lack an understanding of the relative importance of the environment, behavior, and natural reflective properties of colorful ornaments on an individual’s color appearance during mating-displays. We investigated interactions among structurally-based plumage, display environments, and courtship shuttle displays of male Costa's hummingbirds (Calypte costae) to test how these elements may differentially contribute to color appearance during shuttles. Male position relative to the sun was the strongest predictor of color appearance, with shuttle behaviors and feather reflectance playing smaller roles. Further, male solar orientation and shuttling behavior (e.g. shuttle width) were repeatable among displays, whereas male color appearance mostly was not. These results emphasize the contributions of behavior and environment to color-signaling and suggest that relying on reflectance measurements of colorful ornaments alone provides an incomplete picture of ecologically relevant visual phenotypes of displaying animals.
Date made availableJun 20 2019

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