Are Tropical Birds More Colourful?
This might seem a silly question, but a recent study was undertaken to find out if tropical birds are more colourful than birds from other regions.
Idea never proven until now
The idea that tropical birds are more colourful has certainly been known for a long time but it has never actually been proven. However, a recent team of scientists from the UK and Hungary looked at more than 24,000 pictures of 4,500 bird species from all around the world.
The photos were part of a collection of images held by the Natural History Museum in the UK. The scientists were able to use computers to analyse the images for colour intensity within each birds’ feathers. This resulted in millions of readings that enabled the team to have a measurement for how colourful each bird was.
One third more colourful
Not too surprisingly the results showed that tropical birds are nearly one third more colourful than their non tropical counterparts. The tropical birds were from areas such as west Africa, Southeast Asia and the Amazon rainforest in South America.
Tropical birds have more intense and varied colours compared to birds dwelling in cooler climates. Interestingly, the birds that were found to be most colourful tend to be found in the most densely forested regions.
No one knows why
The researchers don’t know why for certain tropical birds have more colourful plumage. However, they believe that temperature and food have a bearing. The more stable temperature of tropical climates and abundance of food provides a constant source of energy which quite possibly allows them to produce more colourful feathers. What they eat could also have a bearing, with more colourful tropical fruits giving brighter feathers.