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.

Related Articles


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 December 21, 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 December 21, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Monarch Butterflies Descend Upon Mexican Forest During Annual Migration

Monarch Butterflies Descend Upon Mexican Forest During Annual Migration

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 19, 2014) Millions of monarch butterflies begin to descend onto Mexico as part of their annual migration south. Rough Cut (no reporter narration) Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Best Protein-Filled Foods to Energize You for the New Year

The Best Protein-Filled Foods to Energize You for the New Year

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) The new year is coming and nothing will energize you more for 2015 than protein-filled foods. Fitness and nutrition expert John Basedow (@JohnBasedow) gives his favorite high protein foods that will help you build muscle, lose fat and have endless energy. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Birds Might Be Better Meteorologists Than Us

Birds Might Be Better Meteorologists Than Us

Newsy (Dec. 19, 2014) A new study suggests a certain type of bird was able to sense a tornado outbreak that moved through the U.S. a day before it hit. Video provided by Newsy
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

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