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.
The aim of Bird Coloration is to provide a flavour of the extent to which birds have exploited the sun’s rays… These two volumes also delve deeper into the disparate ways in which bird colours are produced, what purpose they perform, their effect on communities in general, and finally, how they got here in the first place—their evolution… The reference lists alone are priceless… Bird Coloration will appeal to students of, and researchers in, evolution in general, because the devices that cause colour are often considered as phenotypes. Those interested in ecology, animal behaviour and vision studies will benefit, too… And if further incentive is needed to buy these books, just flick through the colour sections.
The two volumes of Bird Coloration provide an excellent up-to-date overview of the topic… Bird coloration is a huge topic and anyone organizing an overview should be heartily congratulated.
This anthology of scientific writing in two volumes explains much of what is known about bird coloration and highlights that which we do not know. Subjects like whether the bright coloration of a male Northern Cardinal increases or decreases its chances of being captured by a visual predator like the Cooper’s Hawk are debated… Many of the contributions to this text are scientifically detailed, however, the fascinating subject of bird coloration is presented at a level that the average reader would learn much about this fascinating subject.
Together, these two volumes present an outstanding collection of contributions, written by leaders in the field and offering a modern, state-of-the-art review of our understanding of bird coloration—including the mechanisms, function, and evolution underlying the variation we see today.
- 640 pages
- 6-3/8 x 9-1/4 inches
- Harvard University Press
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