[CT Birds] A question on cryptic plumage.

Carrier Graphics carriergraphics at sbcglobal.net
Wed Feb 27 10:35:57 EST 2013


A question on cryptic plumage.

While looking out at the feeder birds this morning, I saw a neat and trim male 
Downy woodpecker. Then a question came to mind.  

Why has evolution given this bird such a contrasting coloration? There is no 
better coloration to be noticed than Black against white. A downey is certainly 
not the best cryptic colored bird out there to deter predation by hawks, and 
certainly not the best in flight to avoid predator attacks, (slow, undulating 
flight) so whats up with that?  


Hawks it is know have less color vision with the added benefit of better 
perception in movement and contrast – so one would think the Downey is a prime 
prey species for any hawk. Contrasting B&W plumage, with a not so elusive 
flight. So why are their so many Downeys about? Logic would tell us they should 
have been eliminated a long time ago... Any thoughts out there?

Paul Carrier - Harwinton


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