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A Red Bird in a Brown Bag: The Function and Evolution of Colourful Plumage in the House Finch

Series: Oxford Ornithology Series

By: Geoffrey E Hill

318 pages, 128 figs

Oxford University Press

Paperback | Dec 2008 | #173051 | ISBN-13: 9780195148497
Out of Print Details
Hardback | Oct 2002 | #132056 | ISBN: 0195148487
Availability: Usually dispatched within 2-3 weeks Details
NHBS Price: £36.49 $45/€41 approx

About this book

Account of studies of the function and evolution of colourful plumage in the House Finch, and evolution of birds in general. Part I sets the stage for modern studies of the function of plumage colouration with a review of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries. Part II focuses on the control and present function of plumage colouration. Part III takes an evolutionary approach to the study of plumage colouration using biogeography and phylogeny to test hypotheses for why specific forms of plumage colour display have evolved. Hill concludes with an account of comparative studies that have been conducted in the House Finch and other cardueline finches and the insight these studies have provided on the evolution of carotenoid-based ornamental colouration.

Hill's book is, thus far, probably the most complete study of the function and control of plumage pigmentation in a single bird species. It was an easy read because of Hill's ability to write clearly and creatively, and to present ideas in a logical order. Bird Study Geoff Hill shows just how valuable it is to tackle a topic from many directions and to stick at it: new research avenues always emerge ... in this book you will find him fairly open-minded and receptive to a multifactorial explanation. A very good read. Ibis


Part 1: Prelude; 1. Darwinism and Wallacism: A Brief Account of the Long History of the Study of Plumage Coloration; 2. A Red Bird in a Brown Bag: An Introduction to the House Finch; 3. In the Eye of the Beholder: Color Vision and the Quantification of Colour; Part 2: The Proximate Control and Function of Red Plumage; 4. You Are What You Eat: Plumage Pigments and Carotenoid Physiology; 5. A Matter of Condition: The Effect of Environment on Plumage Coloration; 6. Darwin Vindicated: Female Choice and Sexual Selection in the House Finch; 7. Fine Fathers and Good Genes: The Direct and Indirect benefits of female choice; 8. Studs, Duds, and Studly Duds: Plumage Coloration, Hormones, and Dominance; 9. The Feeling's Mutual: Female Plumage Coloration and Male Mate Choice; Part 3: Biogeography and the Evolution of Colorful Plumage; 10. From the Halls of Montezuma, to the Shores of Tripoli (New York): Populations, Subspecies, and Geographic Variation in Ornamental Coloration; 11. Why Red?: The Evolution of Color Display; Epilogue; Glossary

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