This bird is not blue

“The bluebird carries the sky on it’s back…”

Henry David Thoreau

This lovely photo was taken by my wife. It is a male Blue Fairy Wren. The females are just boring brown. The blue colour of birds is very eye catching for both potential mates and photographers, but it is controversial. Birds are not blue. Most bright colours in the feathers of birds are the direct result of pigments in their plumage, but birds have no blue pigments. The blues are created by the way light interacts with the feather surface structure, specifically the arrangement of keratin molecules. The blue is therefore a structural colour and can only be detected in full white light. This is a better camouflage technique for hiding in trees than being covered in bright blue pigments. Actually, blue pigments are very rare in nature, the only common one being Crustacyanin found in shellfish. #noteverythingistrueblue #letsmakelemonade

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