Good nutrition is important for birds, too!
|House Finch eating seed cylinder on Wild Birds Unlimited Dinner Bell feeder|
They are very good at adapting. The House Finch was not always a local bird. In 1940, they were captured illegally in California and imported to New York by pet dealers. Fearing prosecution, the dealers released their “Hollywood Finches” on Long Island and since then the finches have spread to all corners of the east and have even rejoined their relatives in the west. But have they also been getting redder?
|Male and female House Finch on WBU Hopper Feeder|
Carotenoids are the class of hydrocarbons, widespread in nature and important pigments in living organisms. They are found in foods that are deep green, yellow, orange, and red like fruits, vegetables and seeds.
Normal male House Finches exhibit individual variation in coloration, with their plumage ranging from pale orange to bright red, but the brighter males have an advantage with the females. Carotenoid-based feather coloration has been found to be an important criterion in female mate choice because brighter finches usually have better foraging ability, better health, more testosterone and less parasite loads.
Your redder finches may just be well fed older, more experienced birds or in fact may be evolving into redder, more vibrant house finches of the future. The research is still out on the bird's 'carotenoid circle of life', but you made a very good observation. Thank you for sharing.
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