Food color preferences of molting house finches (Carpodacus mexicanus) in relation to sex and plumage coloration

Ana L. Bascuñán, Elizabeth A. Tourville, Matthew B. Toomey, Kevin McGraw

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Food color can be indicative of specific nutrients, and thus discrimination based on color can be a valuable foraging behavior. Several bird and fish species with carotenoid-based body ornamentation show color preferences for presumably carotenoid-rich red and orange foods. However, little is known within species about whether or not individuals with (or growing) more colorful ornaments show stronger food-color preferences than those with drabber coloration. Here, we examine food color preferences in house finches (Carpodacus mexicanus) - a species with sexually dichromatic and selected carotenoid coloration - as a function of sex and plumage coloration during molt. We captured wild, molting juvenile house finches over 4 wk in late summer/early fall, quantified the color and size of plumage ornaments being developed in males, and determined food color preference in captivity by presenting individuals with dyed sunflower chips (red, orange, yellow, and green). On average, finches showed an aversion to yellow-dyed chips and a preference for red- and green-colored chips. We found no significant difference between male and female preferences for specific food colors, and food color preference was not significantly related to male plumage ornamentation. However, we did find that redder birds demonstrated a higher degree of food selectivity, measured as the proportion of their preferred food color consumed. These results suggest that food color is not a major factor determining food choice in molting house finches, but that there still may be aspects of foraging behavior that are linked to the development of colorful plumage.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1066-1073
Number of pages8
JournalEthology
Volume115
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2009

Fingerprint

plumage
molting
foods
food
color
gender
carotenoid
ornamentation
foraging behavior
carotenoids
Carpodacus mexicanus
bird
foraging
captivity
molt
birds
food choices
Helianthus annuus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

Cite this

Food color preferences of molting house finches (Carpodacus mexicanus) in relation to sex and plumage coloration. / Bascuñán, Ana L.; Tourville, Elizabeth A.; Toomey, Matthew B.; McGraw, Kevin.

In: Ethology, Vol. 115, No. 11, 11.2009, p. 1066-1073.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Bascuñán, Ana L. ; Tourville, Elizabeth A. ; Toomey, Matthew B. ; McGraw, Kevin. / Food color preferences of molting house finches (Carpodacus mexicanus) in relation to sex and plumage coloration. In: Ethology. 2009 ; Vol. 115, No. 11. pp. 1066-1073.
@article{618fe5fe65404c78a73e9b39c274e0f8,
title = "Food color preferences of molting house finches (Carpodacus mexicanus) in relation to sex and plumage coloration",
abstract = "Food color can be indicative of specific nutrients, and thus discrimination based on color can be a valuable foraging behavior. Several bird and fish species with carotenoid-based body ornamentation show color preferences for presumably carotenoid-rich red and orange foods. However, little is known within species about whether or not individuals with (or growing) more colorful ornaments show stronger food-color preferences than those with drabber coloration. Here, we examine food color preferences in house finches (Carpodacus mexicanus) - a species with sexually dichromatic and selected carotenoid coloration - as a function of sex and plumage coloration during molt. We captured wild, molting juvenile house finches over 4 wk in late summer/early fall, quantified the color and size of plumage ornaments being developed in males, and determined food color preference in captivity by presenting individuals with dyed sunflower chips (red, orange, yellow, and green). On average, finches showed an aversion to yellow-dyed chips and a preference for red- and green-colored chips. We found no significant difference between male and female preferences for specific food colors, and food color preference was not significantly related to male plumage ornamentation. However, we did find that redder birds demonstrated a higher degree of food selectivity, measured as the proportion of their preferred food color consumed. These results suggest that food color is not a major factor determining food choice in molting house finches, but that there still may be aspects of foraging behavior that are linked to the development of colorful plumage.",
author = "Bascu{\~n}{\'a}n, {Ana L.} and Tourville, {Elizabeth A.} and Toomey, {Matthew B.} and Kevin McGraw",
year = "2009",
month = "11",
doi = "10.1111/j.1439-0310.2009.01697.x",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "115",
pages = "1066--1073",
journal = "Ethology",
issn = "0179-1613",
publisher = "Wiley-Blackwell",
number = "11",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Food color preferences of molting house finches (Carpodacus mexicanus) in relation to sex and plumage coloration

AU - Bascuñán, Ana L.

AU - Tourville, Elizabeth A.

AU - Toomey, Matthew B.

AU - McGraw, Kevin

PY - 2009/11

Y1 - 2009/11

N2 - Food color can be indicative of specific nutrients, and thus discrimination based on color can be a valuable foraging behavior. Several bird and fish species with carotenoid-based body ornamentation show color preferences for presumably carotenoid-rich red and orange foods. However, little is known within species about whether or not individuals with (or growing) more colorful ornaments show stronger food-color preferences than those with drabber coloration. Here, we examine food color preferences in house finches (Carpodacus mexicanus) - a species with sexually dichromatic and selected carotenoid coloration - as a function of sex and plumage coloration during molt. We captured wild, molting juvenile house finches over 4 wk in late summer/early fall, quantified the color and size of plumage ornaments being developed in males, and determined food color preference in captivity by presenting individuals with dyed sunflower chips (red, orange, yellow, and green). On average, finches showed an aversion to yellow-dyed chips and a preference for red- and green-colored chips. We found no significant difference between male and female preferences for specific food colors, and food color preference was not significantly related to male plumage ornamentation. However, we did find that redder birds demonstrated a higher degree of food selectivity, measured as the proportion of their preferred food color consumed. These results suggest that food color is not a major factor determining food choice in molting house finches, but that there still may be aspects of foraging behavior that are linked to the development of colorful plumage.

AB - Food color can be indicative of specific nutrients, and thus discrimination based on color can be a valuable foraging behavior. Several bird and fish species with carotenoid-based body ornamentation show color preferences for presumably carotenoid-rich red and orange foods. However, little is known within species about whether or not individuals with (or growing) more colorful ornaments show stronger food-color preferences than those with drabber coloration. Here, we examine food color preferences in house finches (Carpodacus mexicanus) - a species with sexually dichromatic and selected carotenoid coloration - as a function of sex and plumage coloration during molt. We captured wild, molting juvenile house finches over 4 wk in late summer/early fall, quantified the color and size of plumage ornaments being developed in males, and determined food color preference in captivity by presenting individuals with dyed sunflower chips (red, orange, yellow, and green). On average, finches showed an aversion to yellow-dyed chips and a preference for red- and green-colored chips. We found no significant difference between male and female preferences for specific food colors, and food color preference was not significantly related to male plumage ornamentation. However, we did find that redder birds demonstrated a higher degree of food selectivity, measured as the proportion of their preferred food color consumed. These results suggest that food color is not a major factor determining food choice in molting house finches, but that there still may be aspects of foraging behavior that are linked to the development of colorful plumage.

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=70349934411&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=70349934411&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1111/j.1439-0310.2009.01697.x

DO - 10.1111/j.1439-0310.2009.01697.x

M3 - Article

AN - SCOPUS:70349934411

VL - 115

SP - 1066

EP - 1073

JO - Ethology

JF - Ethology

SN - 0179-1613

IS - 11

ER -