This is photograph is underselling how colorful Wilson’s Bird of Paradise is. This bird goes all out on the pigmentation, but pigment isn’t the only thing that’s producing color. What else is? Just as a hint, those aren’t blue feathers on its head.

The only feathers on the head of Wilson’s Bird of Paradise are on those slender lines of black. The intense blue that we see is the bird’s actual skin. The skin isn’t tinted with pigment. If we caught it at a different angle, it wouldn’t look so intense. The blue is a structural color, caused by the interference pattern created in light coming from the skin.

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And there are other structural colors that we can’t see. At the right angle, the bird’s chest is deep green and its throat is a deep purple. The bird we see up top is a male, and since he has to put on a mating display he’s the brighter of the two. The female bird is more subdued, but she also has the odd, slightly-offputting bald blue head. But the weirdest color on this extremely weird bird is something you can only see at around the 2:10 mark of this video.

Image: Serhanoksay

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