One cannot help being struck with wonder at the vivid pink of 10,000 flamingos rising from Lake Nakuru or the glowing red gorget of a ruby-throated hummingbird feeding outside the kitchen window. How birds produce the brilliant and striking coloration of their feathers and other body parts is the focus of this first volume of Bird Coloration. It has been more than 40 years since the mechanisms of color production of birds have been reviewed and synthesized and in those 40 years new pigments have been discovered, new genetic mechanisms have been described, new theories have been developed, and hundreds of new experiments have been conducted.
Geoffrey Hill and Kevin McGraw have assembled the world’s leading experts in perception, measurement, and control of bird coloration to contribute to this book. This sumptuously illustrated volume synthesizes more than 1,500 technical papers in this field. The focus is on the three primary mechanisms of color production—melanin pigmentation, carotenoid pigmentation, and structural coloration—but less common as well as newly described mechanisms of color production are also reviewed in detail. The visual perception of birds and the best ways to collect and analyze color data are, for the first time, presented as part of the review of mechanisms of coloration. This book will be essential reading for biologists studying animal coloration, but it will also be treasured by anyone curious about how birds produce and perceive their bold and brilliant color displays.