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Wild Birds with a Splash of Colour

Wild Bird Trust presents this week’s Top 25, Wild Birds with a Splash of Colour. Birds are amongst the most colourful in the animal kingdom. Given that having colourful plumage makes you more vulnerable to being spotted by predators it begs the question, why are so many birds colourful? The age old theory is that...

Wild Bird Trust presents this week’s Top 25, Wild Birds with a Splash of Colour. Birds are amongst the most colourful in the animal kingdom. Given that having colourful plumage makes you more vulnerable to being spotted by predators it begs the question, why are so many birds colourful? The age old theory is that colour in birds evolved due to sexual selection, females, or in some cases, males pick a mate with brightly coloured plumage as it signals that the individual is healthy and fit. Whatever the evolutionary drivers were, today we can appreciate the amazing diversity of bright colours in the bird kingdom!

If you would like to submit photographs for our Top 25 contest next week, keep a eye on the Facebook page, the next theme will be announced on Sunday. Then you can simply submit your photograph to the Facebook page with species, location and photographer as the caption, good luck!

The male and female Blue-throated Barbet are both brightly coloured. Studies show that in these cases, it is thought to be an adaption for females in monogamously breeding birds. The females of these species are thought to be colourful as they need to compete for males (Ganesh Rao)
The European Goldfinch is primarily a seedeater, their beaks are perfectly designed to pick seeds from flowerheads (Suranjan Mukherjee)
This Anna’s Hummingbird is a good example of colour sexual dimorphism, driven by sexual selection. The males have a metallic purple throat but the females lack this. During the breeding season the males display energetically to attract females  (Sutapa Karmakar)
A Black-lored Tit photographed in Sattal, India (Deepak Sharma)
This beautiful Hyacinth Macaw is vulnerable to extinction, mainly due to capture for the pet trade and habitat loss. A number of conservation actions have been put in place, including artificial nests and raising awareness among cattle ranchers (Sharon Templin)
The Indian Peafowl has extreme sexual dimorphism. The males have elaborate tails and plumage which attracts the females to their harems (Vishwas Thakkar)
The Atlantic Puffin has a beautifully colourful and ornate bill. Sadly they are vulnerable to extinction due to overfishing and disturbance at nesting sites (John Parkinson)
During the non-breeding season Long-tailed Broadbills are highly sociable, travelling in large groups of up to 40 birds (Deepak Sharma)
Much like flamingoes, Painted Storks stir up the mud so as to disturb prey (Vishesh Kamboj)
Red-and-Green Macaws displaying their technicolour plumage in Peru (Antonis Tsaknakis)
The Venezuelan Troupial is native to Venezuela, Colombia and surrounding islands, this vibrant bird was photographed in Puerto Rico (Sonia Longoria)
The Red-whiskered Bulbul has charming red patches on the ear coverts (Subham Chowdhury)
A colourful male Red Avadavat alongside a drab female in Sultanpur National Park, India (Anirban Roychowdhury)
The Red-billed Leiothrix is native to eastern Asia but has also established feral populations in Hawaii, Japan and Europe (Suranjan Mukherjee)
This Silver-eared Mesia, photographed in Malaysia, is closely related to the Red-billed Leiothrix featured above (Arun Samak)
The beautiful iridescent plumage of the Rüppell’s Starling is an example of structural colouration in birds. This is formed by structures in the feather barbules that refract different lights depending on what angle you look at it from (Edwin Godinho)
The Shining Honeycreeper can be found in the humid forests of central America, this strikingly blue male was photographed in Panama by Owen Deutsch
Only the male Siberian Rubythroat has a red throat, the female’s throat is white. Many birds have colourful throat patches, it is not clear why but the throat region is definitely a visible place to display colourful plumage! (Swarnava Nandi)
The Superb Starling is fairly common across East Africa, this stunning individual was Photographed in the Serengeti, Tanzania by Edwin Godinho
The White-capped Redstart also goes by the name White-capped Water-redstart as they are primarily found along streams and canals (Gaurav Budhiraja)
White-breasted Kingfishers are generally diurnal but during India’s monsoon season they can be seen foraging at lights during the evening (Tandel Neel)
It is rare to come across a bird with plumage as vividly purple as the Violet-backed Starling! (Shantharam Holla)
The strikingly iridescent Himalayan Monal is the national bird of Nepal (Shivayogi Kanthi)
The Crimson Sunbird feeds on nectar and insects, they are known to ‘rob’ flowers of their nectar by piercing the base, instead of reaching into the flower (Sudhir Kadam)
A group of Greater Flamingoes in the snow in Camargue, France (Christian Bagnol)

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.

We are in a day-and-age during which more bird species are threatened with extinction than ever before. The Wild Birds! Revolution aims to publish the “Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week” to 1 million people every week by the end of the year. That is a revolution that will change the world! Join thousands of other weekend naturalists, photographers, birders, experts, hikers, nature-lovers, guides, scientists, conservationists and artists that share the thousands of wild bird photographs submitted to the Wild Bird Trust website and Facebook page. Thousands of wild bird enthusiasts are going out every day to photograph our planet’s beautiful birdlife. Pick up your camera, fill your bird feeder, open your heart, and join the Wild Birds! Revolution!!

Edited by Christie Craig, Campaign Manager


Top 25 Backyard Birds

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Meet the Author

Steve Boyes
Steve Boyes has dedicated his life to conserving Africa's wilderness areas and the species that depend upon them. After having worked as a camp manager and wilderness guide in the Okavango Delta and doing his PhD field work on the little-known Meyer's Parrot, Steve took up a position as a Centre of Excellence Postdoctoral Fellow at the Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology. He has since been appointed the Scientific Director of the Wild Bird Trust and is a 2014 TED Fellow. His work takes him all over Africa, but his day-to-day activities are committed to South Africa's endemic and Critically Endangered Cape Parrot (Poicephalus robustus). Based in Hogsback Village in the Eastern Cape (South Africa), Steve runs the Cape Parrot Project, which aims to stimulate positive change for the species through high-quality research and community-based conservation action. When not in Hogsback, Steve can be found in the Okavango Delta where he explores remote areas of this wetland wilderness on "mokoros" or dug-out canoes to study endangered bird species in areas that are otherwise inaccessible. Steve is a 2013 National Geographic Emerging Explorer for his work in the Okavango Delta and on the Cape Parrot Project.