Spectral Reflectance of Gull's Bil: Physiological and Evolutionary Implications for Animal Communication

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Science  04 Oct 1968:
Vol. 162, Issue 3849, pp. 139-140
DOI: 10.1126/science.162.3849.139


The newly hatched laughing gull chick (Larus atricilla) begs food by pecking at the parent's dark red bill. The spectral reflectance of the bill over a range of 300 to 1200 nanometers reflects increasingly more with wavelength beginning about 575 nanometers. Because the chick shows a bimodal, true color preference in pecking, with modes at about 625 and 450 nanometers; the latter, blue peak in the spectral response curve is apparently not adapted to the natural stimulus of the parent's bill. The blue peak might thus be the result of limitations in the neural coding of color information in the chick's visual system.

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