Conservation & environment

What’s Your Favourite Colour?

31 July 2014

Well I just have to say ours is Yellow! Have a look and you will see why.

This Grey-headed Bush-shrike is quite impressive in my eyes.

Birds get the colour in their feathers from several sources. Pigment is attained in 3 different manners. Firstly melanin just like we have in our skin give birds darker feathers, a lack of melanin gives feathers a white colour.

The Crested Barbet has one of our favourite designs.

Secondly carotenoids give them the colours of red, orange and yellow, carotenoids are gained from the birds’ diet as they are formed in plants through photosynthesis.

The Lesser Masked Weaver is somewhat of a spectacle in the right light.

Finally porphyrins also give feathers pigment, these are modified amino acids and is the rarest formation of colour, but we do find it here in the red wings of the Turaco species.

The Little Bee-eater has the most amazing yellow throat.

Keratin is another source, keratin is the same substance that makes up your hair, the sheath around the horns of an antelope, the horn of a rhino, the feather of a bird and many other things. This keratin gives colours in a very complicated process of layering and scattering and generally gives that iridescence in the feathers giving colours of greens, violets, purples and blues.

The yellow streaks of this female Black Cuckoo-shrike sets it far apart from the male.

These sources are often combined to form the most wonderful colours that birds display and is just another reason to have a closer look next time you see a bird.

Golden-tailed Woodpecker, gold is better than yellow.

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