[A male house finch perches on a branch in a tree. He has bright red feathers on his head and chest. He looks around, turns around, and takes off.] [Explore MacaulayLibrary.org]

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In many bird species, including the House Finch, females are attracted to males with more vibrant feathers, a trait that can indicate a male’s superior physiological condition. This has been tested through an experiment that found that male House Finches with bright red plumage recovered faster from illness than those with dull, yellow feathers.

This video accompanies Chapter 9, Avian Mating and Social Behavior, Handbook of Bird Biology, 3rd Edition from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Wiley Publishing.

Recorded by Larry R. Arbanas, Macaulay Library