Why is the swan white? | Science


The most natural color of bird feathers is white. It is a so-called structural color that is created when light is reflected from the surface texture of the feathers.

Although no studies have been done on the coloring of white swans, one can guess the reasons for the white feather suit. Those birds will remain white who can afford it. Producing colors always requires energy.

Bright or greyish colors in a feather suit are created if the bird needs coloring to mate or hide. You don’t have to do either for a whooper swan. It usually pairs with only one partner. The swan is also so large that many predators do not threaten it. It nests in open areas where it is easy to spot. At the same time, the swan also accurately detects its own environment and can escape danger in good time. Indeed, birds living in open spaces often have the least color pigment.

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White may also be useful in the relationships between swans. The whooper swan fiercely defends its own territory from other swans. The struggles between the big birds can be bloody as well. Conflicts are avoided when a young couple looking for a territory easily detects their classmates and sees that the area is already occupied.

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As a defendant
Hannu Pöysä,
leading researcher, Natural Resources Center.

Published in Science Journal 8/2021


Source: Tiede by www.tiede.fi.

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