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A Red Bird in a Brown BagThe Function and Evolution of Colorful Plumage in the House Finch$
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Geoffrey E. Hill

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780195148480

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195148480.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 03 August 2021

You Are What You Eat

You Are What You Eat

Plumage Pigments and Carotenoid Physiology

(p.55) Chapter 4 You Are What You Eat
A Red Bird in a Brown Bag

Geoffrey E. Hill

Oxford University Press

The red coloration of male House Finches results from carotenoid pigmentation, and this chapter reviews the physiology of carotenoid pigmentation of feathers. House Finches were originally supposed to use beta-carotene to produce the red pigment echinenone, but studies with better analytical tools revealed that most red coloration was due to 3-hydroxy-echinenone, which was produced from beta-cryptoxanthin. House Finches cannot store carotenoids — they must access carotenoids daily as feathers are grown.

Keywords:   carotenoid, pigment, plumage color, metabolism, absorption, 3-hydroxy-echinenone, beta-cryptoxanthin, feathers

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