Adult male superb fairy-wren (Malurus cyaneus).
Patrick Kavanagh / CC BY-SA 2.0)

Conspicuous plumage attracts the attention of predators

Adult non-breeding male superb fairy-wren (Malurus cyaneus).
(Credit: JJ Harrison / CC BY-SA 3.0.)

Bright blue plumage makes male fairy-wrens flighty

Figure 1. Blue males are more likely to flee in response to the playback of a conspecific alarm call, independent of their prior activity. Responses to low-danger alarm playbacks are shown for fairy-wrens in blue plumage (blue males, image a; blue bars) and brown plumage (brown bars), including males (image b) and females (image c). Response types are flee to cover (dark), intermediate (medium) and no response (light). Individuals were foraging, acting as a sentinel or performing other behaviours (preening, resting and singing) immediately prior to the alarm playback. Values are based on raw data. Numbers indicate sample sizes for responses to the low-danger alarm. (doi:10.1098/rspb.2017.0446)



Written by

Evolutionary ecologist & ornithologist, science journalist. Freelance, job hunting. Writes about science for Forbes. Formerly: The Guardian. Always: Ravenclaw.

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium β€” and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade