A Matter of Condition

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

A Matter of Condition

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This chapter considers the effects of environmental conditions during molting on the coloration of red plumage in male House Finches. It shows that access to carotenoid pigments during molting have a large effect on feather color. Likewise, exposure to certain parasites during feather growth depresses carotenoid coloration. Good nutrition is needed for birds to reach full color expression. Environmental regulation of color expression means that critical information about male condition at the time of molting is encoded in feather coloration.

Keywords: carotenoid pigments; parasite; feather color; environmental conditions; color expression; nutrition; molting; feather coloration

Chapter.  21281 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Vertebrates

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