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Study: The bright red of cardinals means less in urban areas
Date:8/31/2010

For males, brighter feathers were indicative of birds in better condition in rural areas, but were not as indicative in urban areas.

In cardinals, as in some other birds, feather coloration is related to their diet. Diets high in carotenoids pigments found in some fruits and other parts of plants lead to brighter feather colors.

Previous studies indicate that forests within urban areas have nearly three times the amount of fruit and nearby bird feeders than exist in rural areas. Urban forests have many exotic and invasive species, such as Amur honeysuckle and multiflora rose, that provide abundant sources of carotenoid-rich fruits.

The fact that carotenoid-rich fruits are more available in urban areas, to birds over a wide range of conditions, may be one reason that brighter feathers aren't more indicative of healthy birds in urban areas, Rodewald said. In rural forests, only the highest-quality individuals may have access to carotenoids.

Rodewald is continuing this research by studying how plumage coloration is related to the quality of territories that birds secure and their ability to produce young.


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Contact: Amanda D. Rodewald
Rodewald.1@osu.edu
614-247-6099
Ohio State University
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2

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