Avian Eggs: Thermoregulatory Value of Very High Near-Infrared Reflectance

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Science  21 Apr 1978:
Vol. 200, Issue 4339, pp. 321-323
DOI: 10.1126/science.200.4339.321


Studies of the spectral reflectance of the eggs of 25 species of birds from nine families disclosed uniformly high reflectance (often above 90 percent) in the near infrared. This property is associated with the presence of the eggshell pigments protoporphyrin and the bilins. These pigments allow coloration for cryptic or other purposes with minimum solar heating, a combination not possible with the melanin pigments typical of vertebrates.