Kingfisher feathers - colouration by pigments, spongy nanostructures and thin films

Article English OPEN
Stavenga, Doekele G. ; Tinbergen, Jan ; Leertouwer, Hein L. ; Wilts, Bodo D. (2011)
  • Subject:
    mesheuropmc: embryonic structures | macromolecular substances | sense organs | animal structures

The colours of the common kingfisher, Alcedo atthis, reside in the barbs of the three main types of feather: the orange breast feathers, the cyan back feathers and the blue tail feathers. Scanning electron microscopy showed that the orange barbs contain small pigment granules. The cyan and blue barbs contain spongy nanostructures with slightly different dimensions, causing different reflectance spectra. Imaging scatterometry showed that the pigmented barbs create a diffuse orange scattering and the spongy barb structures create iridescence. The extent of the angle-dependent light scattering increases with decreasing wavelength. All barbs have a cortical envelope with a thickness of a few micrometres. The reflectance spectra of the cortex of the barbs show oscillations when measured from small areas, but when measured from larger areas the spectra become wavelength independent. This can be directly understood with thin film modelling, assuming a somewhat variable cortex thickness. The cortex reflectance appears to be small but not negligible with respect to the pigmentary and structural barb reflectance.
  • References (26)
    26 references, page 1 of 3

    Brink, D. J. and van der Berg, N. G. (2004). Structural colours from the feathers of the bird Bostrychia hagedash. J. Phys. D Appl. Phys. 37, 813-818.

    DʼAlba, L., Saranathan, V., Clarke, J. A., Vinther, J. A., Prum, R. O. and Shawkey, M. D. (2011). Colour-producing -keratin nanofibres in blue penguin (Eudyptula minor) feathers. Biol. Lett. 7, 543-546.

    Doucet, S. M. and Meadows, M. G. (2009). Iridescence: a functional perspective. J. R. Soc. Interface 6, S115-S132.

    Durrer, H. (1977). Schillerfarben der Vogelfeder als Evolutionsproblem. Denkschr. Schweiz. Naturforsch. Ges. 91, 1-126.

    Dyck, J. (1971). Structure and colour-production of the blue barbs of Agapornis roseicollis and Cotinga maynana. Z. Zellforsch. 115, 17-29.

    Finger, E. (1995). Visible and UV coloration in birds: Mie scattering as the basis of color in many bird feathers. Naturwissenschaften 82, 570-573.

    Hill, G. E. and McGraw, K. J. (2006). Bird Coloration, Vol. 1, Mechanisms and Measurements. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

    Kinoshita, S. (2008). Structural Colors In The Realm Of Nature. Singapore: World Scientific.

    Kinoshita, S. and Yoshioka, S. (2005). Structural colors in nature: the role of regularity and irregularity in the structure. Chemphyschem. 6, 1-19.

    McGraw, K. J. (2006). The mechanics of uncommon colors in birds: pterins, porphyrins, and psittacofulvins. In Bird Coloration, Vol. 1, Mechanisms and Measurements (ed. G. E. Hill and K. J. McGraw), pp. 354-398. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

  • Metrics
    No metrics available
Share - Bookmark