Have you ever wondered why animals of the same species look different from each other? Think of the impressive tail and call of a rooster compared to the duller hens. Well, usually there’s a reason those differences have evolved.
We examined white-necked Jacobins to learn more about their coloration. Some of the females of this hummingbird species have a fancy coloration pattern like the males do. The males of this species are aggressive and socially dominant. Other birds think the fancy females are males and leave them alone to feed. We wanted to know if the fancy females just look fancy or if they are actually better competitors.
We found that fancy females are mimicking male coloration patterns. Otherwise, they are more like other female Jacobins. This is the first time we’ve seen females mimicking males to get the advantages of a socially dominant form.