Re: Birds' eyes

Subject: Re: Birds' eyes
From: Stephen Ambrose <>
Date: Fri, 27 Mar 1998 14:16:14 +1100 (EST)
At 08:16 AM 3/27/98 +1000, you wrote:

>Can you elaborate on what you mean by "preferred colour in some...robins"?

Sorry, to confuse you, Jim. What I mean is that adult male Petroica robin
species have red plumage coloration.

>With regard to the Satin Bowerbird, I would like to believe that the blue
eye colour >isn't a random choice, but predicated on the female's preference
for blue independent >of the male's behaviour.  For example, she might
perfer blue because many fruits are >blue...being attracted to blue hence
draws her to investigate the blue items in a >male's bower, selects for blue
eye colour and bluish tinged plumage...and the process >is set into motion.
>  In this scenario, the male is also likely to prefer blue.  There is also
>the possibility that the blue iris colour is actually used to enhance the
>bird's vision (maybe acting like a blue filter). UV light may also be
>involve here as well. Of course, these are just ideas, but they could
>genrate some very testable predictions.

Seems plausible to me. But why is blue so important in fairy-wrens and red
important in Petroica robins, as opposed to other colours?
>You lost me here. Since humans can't preceive UV, how could we view UV
>under a UV source? 

The plumage fluoresces when a UV light source is shone on it.
>... Eye colour of White-winged Choughs
>Seem reasonable and I wonder if by so doing, the male runs the risk of
>showing off imperfections in the contour, colour, etc. of the eyes?  The
>context in which the male performs eye-gorging could perhaps provide some
Perhaps this is a secondary function, but I suspect the eye-gorging is
primarily used to enhance the red eye stimulus necessary to elicit a
response in females.

Dr Stephen Ambrose
Research Manager
Birds Australia (Royal Australasian Ornithologists Union)
Australian Bird Research Centre
415 Riversdale Road,
Hawthorn East,
VIC   3123.
Tel:    +61 3 9882 2622
Fax:    +61 3 9882 2677
Email:  S.Ambrose <>  (at work)
             <>   (at home)


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