You Are What You Eat

Geoffrey E. Hill

in A Red Bird in a Brown Bag

Published in print October 2002 | ISBN: 9780195148480
Published online April 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780199893683 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Ornithology Series

You Are What You Eat

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The red coloration of male House Finches results from carotenoid pigmentation, and this chapter reviews the physiology of carotenoid pigmentation of feathers. House Finches were originally supposed to use beta-carotene to produce the red pigment echinenone, but studies with better analytical tools revealed that most red coloration was due to 3-hydroxy-echinenone, which was produced from beta-cryptoxanthin. House Finches cannot store carotenoids — they must access carotenoids daily as feathers are grown.

Keywords: carotenoid; pigment; plumage color; metabolism; absorption; 3-hydroxy-echinenone; beta-cryptoxanthin; feathers

Chapter.  12262 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Vertebrates

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