Red-faced Warblers (Female)

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In posting images of a male Red-faced Warbler the other day I mentioned that I’d also obtained images of females. It’s their turn today.

Many species of birds show plumage differences between males and females. With some species, the differences are pronounced. Female Red-winged Blackbirds, for example, bear almost no resemblance to males.

It’s also often the case that males of a species have brighter plumage than do females of that species. Think of Northern Cardinals, for example, where the males sport brilliant scarlet plumage and the females carry on with feathers of a muted orange-red hue.

Although female and male Red-faced Warblers have different colored plumage, the females are, in my opinion, no less colorful than are the males. Whereas the males have red plumage on their faces, the females show up bedecked in bright orange.

I’ve often wondered what evolutionary forces drive birds to display plumage in particular colors and also, why females and males in a given species have different plumage. My short answer is that I don’t know. I suspect, however, that plumage coloration and gender-based plumage differences may evolve for a variety of reasons.

Distinctive plumage may help members of a species identify other members of that species, and plumage differences between males and females may be related to sex and reproduction. I’ve often thought that the most colorful males of a species may be more attractive to females of that species than are drabber males. But, that’s just a guess and I suspect that the explanations for distinctive plumage and gender-based plumage differences may vary between species and may be complex.

Moreover, the story gets complicated even further by the fact that with many species we don’t see what the birds see. Many birds see in a wider spectrum of light than do humans. So, they may perceive colors that are invisible to us.

But in the end, one thing I know is true, and that is that these are truly beautiful little birds, whatever the reason for their brilliant plumage.

Images made with a Canon R5, Canon EF 400mm f4 DO II lens+Canon EF 1.4x telextender, M setting (auto ISO). ISOs varied between 2500 and 3200, all images shot at f5.6 @ 1/500, +1 1/3 stops exposure compensation.

2 Replies to “Red-faced Warblers (Female)”

  1. burrdoo says:

    Congratulations again! The female is gorgeous too, and your shots are so sharp it’s an amazing opportunity to “see” this faraway species. Thanks!

  2. rebelbreeze says:

    great photos and subjects, as usual.

    Didn’t Darwin write about sexual selection and markings? There’s also courtship behaviour and voice, of course. As far as I can recollect, it is believed that females are usually drabber because they will need to sit on the eggs while brooding and hatching and even after, guiding the young to flight. That works for most birds but for fish that don’t brood but just scatter their eggs? Not really (though some of those to be fair show little sexual dichromatism).

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