Book

A Red Bird in a Brown Bag

Geoffrey E. Hill

Published in print October 2002 | ISBN: 9780195148480
Published online April 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780199893683 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195148480.001.0001

Series: Oxford Ornithology Series

A Red Bird in a Brown Bag

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The House Finch is among the most mundane birds, so ubiquitous and familiar across the U.S. and Canada that it does not rate a glance from most bird enthusiasts. But males have carotenoid-based plumage coloration that varies markedly among individuals, making the House Finch a model species for studies of the function and evolution of colorful plumage. In more depth and detail than has been attempted for any species of bird, this book takes a tour of the hows and whys of ornamental plumage coloration. The book begins by reviewing the history of the study of colorful plumage, which began in earnest with the debates of Darwin and Wallace but which was largely forgotten by the middle of the 20th century. Documenting the extensive plumage variation among males both within and between populations of House Finches, the book explores the mechanisms behind plumage variation and looks at the fitness consequences of condition-dependent ornament display for both males and females. The book concludes by examining the processes by which carotenoid-based ornamental coloration may have evolved.

Keywords: House Finch; sexual selection; mate choice; carotenoids; plumage color; parasites; indicator trait

Book.  332 pages.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Vertebrates

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Table of Contents

Darwinism and Wallacism in A Red Bird in a Brown Bag

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A Red Bird in a Brown Bag in A Red Bird in a Brown Bag

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In the Eye of the Beholder in A Red Bird in a Brown Bag

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You Are What You Eat in A Red Bird in a Brown Bag

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A Matter of Condition in A Red Bird in a Brown Bag

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Darwin Vindicated in A Red Bird in a Brown Bag

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Fine Fathers and Good Genes in A Red Bird in a Brown Bag

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Studs, Duds, and Studly Duds in A Red Bird in a Brown Bag

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The Feeling’s Mutual in A Red Bird in a Brown Bag

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