Meeting Abstract

P1.124  Wednesday, Jan. 4  Optical properties of yellow psittacofulvin colors in the tail feathers of cockatoos (Cacatuidae) and parrots (Psittacidae) BONIN, J.A.*; HOMBERGER, D.G.; Louisiana State Univ., Baton Rouge jbonin1@tigers.lsu.edu

The yellow feather colors of Psittaciformes are produced by unique pigments (psittacofulvins). They may also fluoresce, but do so in different color ranges in cockatoos and parrots (Voelker 1937). To test the hypothesis that these colors evolved independently in cockatoos and parrots, yellow contour feathers were analyzed spectrometrically in four Australasian cockatoos (Calyptorhynchus banksii, C. funereus, Cacatua galerita, and Nymphicus hollandicus) and two parrots (the Australian Melopsittacus undulatus and the Caribbean Amazona ventralis). The yellow patches in the tail feathers of the three cockatoos and the yellow facial feathers of Nymphicus varied in the intensity of reflectance, but displayed similar reflectance spectra with a slight peak in the UV range (325-350nm), a slight dip in the near UV-violet-blue range (375-425nm), and a sharp increase in the blue-greenish range (425-475nm) followed by a constant intensity to 700nm. The yellow patches in the tail feathers of the parrots differed in the relative intensity of reflected UV and visible light, but displayed similar reflectance spectra with a pronounced peak in the UV range (325-350nm), a pronounced dip in the blue range (400-475nm), and a sharp increase in the green range (475-525nm) followed by a constant intensity to 700nm. Only the yellow feathers of the Calyptorhynchus and Nymphicus species fluoresced. Hence, cockatoos are characterized not only by several functional-anatomical features, but also by similar reflectance spectra of their yellow contour feathers. Our data further support the hypothesis that cockatoos may have evolved their psittaciform morphotype independently from parrots (see Homberger 2003).