Red plumage is quite common in the bird kingdom, especially in males, who use their red feathers to attract females. Scientists have recently pinpointed how a bird’s genetic code allows them to produce red feathers. Birds take in yellow pigments, called carotenoids from their diet, then an enzyme called ketolase allows the bird to convert these to red pigments for the feathers. Their research also showed that birds with red plumage have superior colour vision to other birds, in particular they are better at seeing the colour red.
Here we present the Top 25 Birds with Red Plumage. This week we were lucky enough to get submissions from Africa, America, Asia, Europe and Australasia! Thank you to everyone who contributed to our theme this week and well done to all the finalists.
At first glance male and female European Goldfinches look very similar. But if you look closer, the red patch is smaller on females than males, indicating the size of the red patch may be important in mate selection (Anthony Roberts)here we have a Scarlet Finch photographed by Mohit Kumar Ghatak at Baihualing, ChinaA Black-collared Barbet perches on an aloe in the Kruger National Park, South Africa (Brian Culver)A Black-throated Sunbird takes a drink of nectar in Da Lat, Vietnam (Mohit Kumar Ghatak)A true work of art! A pair of Sarus Cranes photographed by Indranil Bhattacharjee in Keoladeo, IndiaA Great Spotted Woodpecker drums on a tree in Helsinki, Finland (Oana Badiu)The Red-crowned Parakeet, or Kākāriki in Māori, is endemic to New Zealand (Adriana Dinu)A male Acorn Woodpecker peeks out from behind his tree in Irvine, USA (Barbara Wallace)This Black-cheeked Woodpecker can only be found in the forests of central America. Adriana Dinu photographed this one in Pico Bonito National Park in HondurasThis Scarlet-faced Liocichla was photographed in Thailand by Saravanan KrishnamurthyWhite-capped Redstarts are strongly associated with streams and marshy areas (Ganesh Rao)Male Common House Finches need to eat foods with plenty of carotenoids during their moulting period in late summer so they can maintain their red plumage through winter (Anirban Roychowdhury)Up close you can really appreciate the brilliant colours of this Crimson Sunbird’s plumage (Gur Simrat Singh)Here we have a male Common Rosefinch. Red plumage is an important part of mate selection for Common Rosefinches, during the breeding season the males’ plumage becomes a brighter red, to attract females (Jasvir Faridkot)an Indian Pitta forages on the ground, pushing aside leaf litter to find insects and other invertebrates (Indranil Bhattacharjee)A male Malabar Trogon photographed in Kotagiri, India (Panthera Tigris)This Maroon Oriole is rather eye catching! Pradnya Paralkar photographed this beautiful bird in Taipei, TaiwanA female Red-naped Sapsucker brings food to her chicks (Tim Nicol)A group of Mitred Parakeets in California, USA. These parakeets are native to South America but have been introduced to California, Florida and Hawaii. In Hawaii they are considered invasive and a threat to local biodiversity (Leslie Reagan)A male Red-headed Finch sunning himself in Kimberley, South Africa (Brian Culver)The Red Munia’s bright red plumage has unfortunately made these birds popular in the pet trade (Jasvir Faridkot)This Red-capped Robin is an Australian endemic, Jamie Dolphin photographed this one in KalgoorlieThis vibrant bird is a Red-tailed Minla, found mainly in China but also as far west as Nepal (Shantanu Bhattacharya)A collection of birds with red plumage would not be complete without the vibrant Northern Cardinal! (Jola Charlton)
Our mission is to build a global community around the freedom and beauty of birds in the wild as ambassadors for the natural ecosystems that they depend upon. They are the music, decoration, and character of every terrestrial habitat on the planet and have been around since the dinosaurs. They are the witnesses and ambassadors of the awesome power of nature. The wide availability of good, cheap optics has opened their world to us for the last few decades. Amazing, affordable DSLR cameras with long lenses are delivering brilliant digital bird imagery to online communities.
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Edited by Christie Craig, Campaign Manager