At first glance, it would be easy to conclude that there are three species of finches feasting on these Forget-Me-Not flowers that have gone to seed… A red species, an orange species, and a yellow species. Right?
Surprisingly, that would be the wrong conclusion. It turns out this trio is nothing but male House Finches!
Male House Finches can be different colors because of what they eat. These seed and fruit eaters acquire their coloration from organic pigments known as carotenoids. These pigments are found in the wild plant foods they eat . The color of male feathers results from 3 carotenoid pigments.
Echinenone is a carotenoid pigment that produces red color in feathers.
Beta-carotene produces yellow to orange colors.
Isocryptoxanthin produces orange colors.
If they are what they eat… I wonder what effect the group’s choice of dining out together on Forget-Me-Not seeds will have.
- Cornell Lab. Yellow House Finches. Project Feeder Watch. Retrieved 05-20-2021 from https://feederwatch.org/color_variant/yellow-house-finches/
- Audubon. Why Male House Finches Can Be Different Colors. Bird Note. Retrieved 05-20-2021 from https://www.audubon.org/news/why-male-house-finches-can-be-different-colors.