Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Brightly colored bird bills indicate good health

Date:
May 24, 2012
Source:
Queen's University
Summary:
Female bill color reflects the health of the bird, a new study shows. Females with more colorful bills have higher antibody levels, indicating greater strength and the ability to fight off invaders.

A stork in its natural habitat. The colour of a female bird's bill has an important biological purpose, researchers say.
Credit: michaklootwijk / Fotolia

The colour of a female bird's bill has an important biological purpose, according to new Queen's research.

Troy Murphy has found female bill colour reflects the health of the bird. Females with more colourful bills have higher antibody levels, indicating greater strength and the ability to fight off invaders.

"This is so exciting because it means a bird facing a rival with a colourful bill will be able to assess the rival's health and thus assess whether the rival will have lots of energy to invest in a fight," says Dr. Murphy, who conducted his research at the Queen's University Biological Station. "This information can then influence the decision to fight or flee -- and, if to flee, how fast it should flee."

The colour of a female bird's bill is strongly correlated with immunoglobulin antibodies, a component of the immune system in birds. Upon infection, these antibodies allow other immune cells to recognize the diseased cells and destroy them.

Dr. Murphy, who is currently an assistant professor (Biology) at Trinity University in Texas, also discovered there is no relation between immune capacity and male bill colour suggesting elaborately coloured bills have very sex-specific roles.

"Murphy's recent results add to a long tradition of bird behavioural ecology research at our biological station" says Station Director Stephen Lougheed. "Results like Dr. Murphy's clarify our understanding of how behaviour, colour and song are used in critical interactions among individuals, especially contests between members of the same sex and courtship between members of opposite sex."

The results of this research will be published in an upcoming issue of Physiological and Biochemical Zoology.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Queen's University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Queen's University. "Brightly colored bird bills indicate good health." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 May 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120524134705.htm>.
Queen's University. (2012, May 24). Brightly colored bird bills indicate good health. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120524134705.htm
Queen's University. "Brightly colored bird bills indicate good health." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120524134705.htm (accessed September 19, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, September 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

AP (Sep. 18, 2014) Grand the elephant has successfully undergone surgery to remove a portion of infected tusk at Tbilisi Zoo in Georgia. British veterinary surgeons used an electric drill to extract the infected piece. (Sept. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Chimp Violence Study Renews Debate On Why They Kill

Chimp Violence Study Renews Debate On Why They Kill

Newsy (Sep. 17, 2014) The study weighs in on a debate over whether chimps are naturally violent or become that way due to human interference in the environment. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Some Tobacco Farmers Thrive Amid Challenges

Some Tobacco Farmers Thrive Amid Challenges

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) The South's tobacco country is surviving, and even thriving in some cases, as demand overseas keeps growers in the fields of one of America's oldest cash crops. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Given Rare Glimpse of 350-Kilo Colossal Squid

Scientists Given Rare Glimpse of 350-Kilo Colossal Squid

AFP (Sep. 16, 2014) Scientists say a female colossal squid weighing an estimated 350 kilograms (770 lbs) and thought to be only the second intact specimen ever found was carrying eggs when discovered in the Antarctic. Duration: 00:47 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins