[Tweeters] Parrots Use Chemistry And Physics To Create Brilliantly Colorful Plumage

Devorah the Ornithologist birdologist at gmail.com
Fri Jul 6 09:13:08 PDT 2018

Hello everyone,

as birders, many of us are aware that birds have two ways that they colour
their plumage: they either make use of structural colours (violet, blue,
white, and super-black) or they colour their feathers using pigments.
Brilliant pigments, such as red and yellow, are obtained from a bird's diet
and packed into its growing feathers during moult. For this reason, colour
is often used by females to assess the health of potential mates.

But parrots are different. You may know that parrots are the only group of
birds that create their own brilliant colours, the psittacofulvins. But a
recent study found that when psittacofulvins are extracted from either red
or yellow feathers, they are orange in solution. This raises the question:

This piece tells a little about newly-published research into how parrot
feathers that are magenta, red, orange or yellow all use the same
chromophores to create perfectly distinct colours.

Parrots Use Chemistry And Physics To Create Brilliantly Colorful Plumage
tinyURL: https://tinyurl.com/y8k5896r

of course, I am still waiting to learn the answer to the fundamental
question: why did parrots evolve their own system for creating the
so-called "warm colours" when their ancestors got their plumage pigment
molecules from their diets? is it the diet aspect of the equation the thing
that made it adaptive for parrots to create their plumage colours?

i hope your summer is going well!

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