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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.