Red-headed finches dominate their black-headed and yellow-headed peers by physical aggression and by the mere fact of being red-headed, according to research published today in the Proceedings of the Royal Society.
Copyright Sarah Pryke
University of New South Wales biologists made the discovery following experiments with stunningly colourful Gouldian finches (Erythrura gouldiae). Among Australias most endangered native birds, Gouldian finches are now restricted to small isolated populations across the tropical north.
The bird has a bright green upper body, blue rump, violet-purple chest, yellow breast and bright azure-blue collar. But its most distinctive feature is its head, which occurs in one of three discrete colours: red, yellow or black. This colour polymorphism makes the Gouldian finch unique, with three distinct forms all naturally occurring and inter-breeding in the same wild populations.
Dr Sarah Pryke | EurekAlert!
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