Blue, not UV, plumage color is important in satin bowerbird Ptilonorhynchus violaceus display

Jean François Savard, Jason Keagy, Gerald Borgia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Several studies have suggested that peak plumage reflectance in birds matches color preferences used in mate choice. We tested this hypothesis in adult satin bowerbird males that have a short-wavelength saturated blue-black plumage with a peak reflectance in the UV. We found that the chroma of the blue (405-480nm), but not the peak reflecting UV (320-400nm) portion of the male plumage spectrum was significantly correlated with male mating success. A plot of correlation coefficients between male mating success and plumage saturation showed a well-defined peak in the blue. This suggests that: 1) blue plumage coloration is more important in mate choice than UV or other colors, and 2) that there is a mismatch between the peak reflectance of the plumage of male satin bowerbirds and the range of plumage wavelengths that are correlated with male mating success. This indicates that it is not safe to infer a role of UV or other colors in mate choice simply because of a peak in plumage reflectance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)80-84
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Avian Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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


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