The once striking plumage color of the blue tit has steadily gotten duller over the past decade and a half, and climate change appears to be the cause, according to scientists from the University of Basque Country in Spain and the Centre d’Ecologie Fonctionnelle et Évolutive in Montpellier, France.
In a 15-year study of two populations of blue tit birds in the South of France, it was found that the bird’s striking blue and yellow plumage is declining in vibrancy.
Over 5800 breeding blue tits nesting in the South of France were captured and studied between 2005 and 2019 to have the coloring and other characteristics of the species noted.
The negative change in plumage color appears to coincide with climate change in the blue tits’ habitat, where there has been a combination of a rise in temperature and a drop in rainfall.
Animal populations react in one of four ways to changes in their living territory: by undergoing genetic change; adapting by changing physical characteristics; migrating to a new location; or by disappearing.
Blue tits are adapting, but the change in aesthetics of their plumage also affects the mating patterns of the species because the birds use their color to help attract mates, with vibrancy being important to prove they are worthy suitors.
This is a summary of the article, “Research suggests that change in bird coloration is due to climate change,” published by The American Naturist on July 14. The full article can be found on phsy.org .
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