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    While the soft parts on a bird can change color at any time due to
hormones, diet, etc., a feather's coloration can only change when the
feather is growing (during molt), so the bird's diet at the time of the molt
becomes important.   Once the feather has finished growing, the color
remains the same and only wear and sunlight-fading can change the feather's
appearance.

    David, your pink Laugher evidently had a pretty good shrimp dinner when
it was molting its body feathers.

Clay Taylor
Moodus, CT
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----- Original Message -----
From: "David Hartgrove" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Thursday, March 31, 2005 1:55 PM
Subject: Re: [FLBIRDS] pink gulls, terns


> Hi,
>   While competing in our chapter's Birdathon last Saturday, we had a
> Laughing Gull on the beach with a pronounced pink wash on the breast
> and belly. He was standing in a mixed flock of other gulls and terns
> numbering 300 to 400 birds. His bill was in the process of turning red,
> otherwise, he appeared to be in full breeding plumage. Others of his
> species in this mixed flock were in varying states of molt and age, yet
> only this one bird showed any pink coloration. It's pure speculation to
> be sure, but it seems there has to be some genetic or hormonal reason
> for these pinkish gulls and terns to show up among their less colorful
> brethren. If, as seems to happen, they only sport this color variation
> during breeding season, then that certainly lends credence to the
> hormonal theory. It seems the next question to be answered is whether
> or not these birds are more successful in attracting a mate. If so, we
> may begin to see more of them in the future.
>
>
> David Hartgrove
> Conservation Chair,
> Halifax River Audubon
> Daytona Beach, FL
>
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