The Rufous-Bellied Niltava Is A Riot Of Electric Blue And Orange

I'm an artist at heart and perhaps it's my love of color that draws me toward the avian world. Not just the sheer variety of hues, but the countless combinations that can be both surprising and surprisingly in line with basic color theory.

It gives a sort of truth to the power of color and as an artist, I can't help but be drawn to it.

The rufous-bellied niltava, *Niltava sundara*, is a bird that perfectly demonstrates the power of complementary colors.

You know how so many movie posters are designed with a blue and orange color scheme? That's because when you put those two opposites together, they clash in a way that is actually quite pleasing.

The male rufous-bellied niltavas have the same effect with their electric blue and orange plummage.

These beauties' habitat extends in a curve across southern Asia.

It starts in north-most Pakistan and skims the top of India before curving through mountainous Nepal, Bhutan, and down into the area of Myanmar, Thailand, and Laos. They can also be found in pockets throughout southeastern China.

They like brushy undergrowth in moist or tropical forests, and eat mostly insects and fruit.

Their call is described as a high, metallic whistle.

The females are particularly drab compared to their mates, almost entirely brown with just a white collar and small blue crescent on her neck.

The particularly shiny nature of the males' blue hues are due to a mix of dark melanin pigment and light scattering.

When light hits the upper feathers, it scatters, leaving blue behind in the same way we see the sky as blue. If you happen to spot one of these guys in on a gloomy day at the right angle, they appear black and orange, since there is no light to create the blue.

Which makes them an even better example of color theory at work.

h/t: eBird, The Guardian

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