[Mystery bird] Adult male Indigo Bunting, Passerina (Guiraca) cyanea, photographed at Quintana Neotropical Bird Sanctuary, Brazoria County, Texas. [I will identify this bird for you in 48 hours]
Image: Joseph Kennedy, 14 April 2007 [larger view].
Nikon D200, Kowa 883 telescope with TSN-PZ camera eyepiece 1/180s f/8.0 at 500.0mm iso400.
Please name at least one field mark that supports your identification.
Can you tell me how this bird's grows such spectacularly colored plumage?
Blue plumage in birds is the result of the physical properties of the plumage such that light is scattered to produce blue coloring. I wrote a detailed essay about this that you might enjoy reading: Schemochromes: The Physics of Structural Plumage Colors.
Whoa. This little dude pretty much knocked my socks off.
I believe he's the one with the specific epithet that reminds me of the name of the company that created the first mega-hit CD-ROM-based computer game, a virtual environment in which I spent a ridiculous amount of time back in the day.
These little guys always have me thinking of Roy G Biv. It's nothing short of amazing to see one fly across the bike path in Minneapolis and pause in the sun on a fence post -- or dozens of them darting up from the roadside ditches on tiny bike-friendly Wisconsin roads. Definitely a bird to make you appreciate getting out of your car into the open air.
Obviously this is a picture of The Blue Bird of Happiness!
Seems like I see fewer of them every year in central KY. They look like if you could squeeze them, you could dye a pair of jeans with the juice.
Hi. I was just flitting around the science blogs for a new place to sit and learn and saw this post.
It appears a couple of your commenters already know what the bird is but graciously refuse to name it leaving it for someone else. So lacking such grace, I'll do it: Indigo Bunting. Solid blue all the way around except for some black "masking" at the eyes and black striations in the wings and tail.
Beautiful photo by the way.
It really is a good photo, isn't it? Anyone want to answer the question about how the bird grows such colorful plumage? I'd like to know. All that happiness just bustin' out? Just a guess.
Actually, Arby, blue color in birds is due to the arrangement of certain protein structures in the feathers, which produces the color through selective interference (I think I've got that part right -- I'm not a physicist). There's no actual blue pigment. In most birds, green is partly structural as well, with yellow pigment and blue structural components.
It's a beautiful bird--psweet has it right: the blue color doesn't stem from any pigment but from special cells within the feather BARBS--it's called "Tyndall" scattering. (Courtesy of Scott Weidensaul).