Access

You are not currently logged in.

Access your personal account or get JSTOR access through your library or other institution:

login

Log in to your personal account or through your institution.

The Control of Color in Birds

Charles L. Ralph
American Zoologist
Vol. 9, No. 2 (May, 1969), pp. 521-530
Published by: Oxford University Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3881820
Page Count: 10
  • Download ($42.00)
  • Subscribe ($19.50)
  • Cite this Item
The Control of Color in Birds
Preview not available

Abstract

The colors of birds result from deposition of pigments-mainly melanins and carotenoids-in integumentary structures, chiefly the feathers. The plumages of birds indicate their age, sex, and mode of living, and play important roles in camouflage, mating, and establishment of territories. Since feathers are dead structures, change of color of feathers is effected through divestment (molt) and replacement. The color and pattern of a feather are determined by the interplay of genetic and hormonal influences prevailing in its base during regeneration. Most birds replace their feathers at least once annually. Some wear the same kind of basic plumage all the time but others alternate a basic and breeding plumage, either in one (the male) or both sexes. Still others may have more than two molts, adding supplemental plumage at certain times in the plumage cycle. The varieties of patterns of molt, the kinds of plumage, and the colors and patterns of feathers among birds apparently are the result of several kinds of selection pressures working through evolution.

Page Thumbnails

  • Thumbnail: Page 
521
    521
  • Thumbnail: Page 
522
    522
  • Thumbnail: Page 
523
    523
  • Thumbnail: Page 
524
    524
  • Thumbnail: Page 
525
    525
  • Thumbnail: Page 
526
    526
  • Thumbnail: Page 
527
    527
  • Thumbnail: Page 
528
    528
  • Thumbnail: Page 
529
    529
  • Thumbnail: Page 
530
    530