It's All In The Greens

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default It's All In The Greens

Post  FinchG on Tue Dec 27, 2011 10:32 am

What’s the secret to all of these “picture perfect” specimens of finchitude? It’s all in the greens—vegetable greens, richly laden with carotenes, plus an ample supply of Vitamin D3.

What we see when we look at birds’ feathers is a refraction of light, or the reflected properties of the feathers. These properties are made up of pigmentations, structural coloration and sometimes iridescence.

Pigmentation is derived from melanins, carotenoids and porphyrins. The melanins give us the appearance of grays, blacks and browns. Carotenoids produce reds, oranges and yellow. The porphyrins also provide reds, browns and greens.

Some greens, all blues and whites are actually structural colorations, refracted combinations of the basic colors, and are dependent on complex structural formations of the feathers. You could think of them as tiny mirrors, bouncing and mixing colors to give the appearance of the colors we see.

Melanin is a class of compounds found in plants used as pigmentations, which are derivatives of the amino acid tyrosine. These pigmentations are “brought to life” by the presence of Vitamin D3. Many of these are found in carotene-producing plants.

Carotenoids (carotenes) provide the reds, oranges and yellows we see in feathers. They are found in carrots, mustard greens, turnip greens, collard greens, broccoli, parsley, yellow or summer squash, and dandelion greens, as well as several other plants.

Porphyrins contribute to greens, reds and browns. They are found in green leaves and usually contain a trace amount of zinc.

As you can see, all three types of pigmentation rely heavily on the greens mentioned, with Vitamin D3 and Zinc used as catalysts in some instances. Additionally, carotenes are anti-oxidants. Carotene is fat soluble and excessive carotene is non-toxic. The degree of yellow seen in an egg yolk is directly attributable to the amount of carotene the producer has digested. The occasional egg that is broken here usually has a deep yellow to orange yolk.

If you think your birds have a lackluster plumage and really would like that color to pop out, then it is time to examine the diet you are using. If you want those intense, beautiful reds, yellows, browns, blacks, grays and whites—it’s all in the greens.

Doug Taylor

FinchG It's All In The Greens Birds_zps98e5f41b It's All In The Greens Dans-fleur_zpsc53bae9e
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