Age-related differences in plumage characteristics of male treeswallows Tachycineta bicolor: hue and brightness signal differentaspects of individual quality

Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor) Science Article 11


Age-related differences in plumage characteristics of birds can be the result of differential survival of more ornamented individuals, within-individual changes in plumage attributes with age, or a combination of both. In this study, we investigated age-class related differences in plumage attributes of male tree swallows Tachycineta bicolor by performing both cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses. Male tree swallows in their first breeding season do not display delayed plumage maturation, and possess, like experienced breeders, metallic green to metallic blue iridescent plumage on their dorsal surface. Our results showed that, at the population level, older males were brighter and reflected light maximally at shorter wavelengths (i.e. were more blue).

Pierre-Paul Bitton and Russell D. Dawson, J. Avian Biol. 39: 446-452, 2008

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