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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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You Are What You Eat

You Are What You Eat

Plumage Pigments and Carotenoid Physiology

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

Geoffrey E. Hill

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195148480.003.0004

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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