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jerry jackson
Photographed by Bette Jackson

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Source: Bird Eggs 3

Length of Segment: 00:01:13

Hi, I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson, out with the wild things. Where do the colors of the eggs of wild birds come from? Why are they colored at all? The primitive color of bird eggs is white like those of reptiles. Owls, woodpeckers, doves, and some chickens still lay white eggs. Other kinds of birds produce eggs of diverse colors and patterns. The colors come from two sources: the blues and greens are pigments that come from the breakdown of bile, a product of liver function. Reds, browns, and black come from the breakdown of red blood cells. Thus, the colors on bird eggs are waste products that birds recycle, putting the waste to a new use. Some eggs have a camouflaging pattern and are safer from predators. Colors and patterns of bird eggs help birds recognize their own eggs, and provide a stimulus for incubation. Among the most beautiful of bird eggs are those of tinamous, chicken-like birds native to Latin America. Each kind of tinamou lays eggs of a different solid color. What's so remarkable about tinamou eggs is their shine; they look like polished jewels. The male does all the work of incubating tinamou eggs, perhaps under the spell of their beauty.

'With the Wild Things' is produced at the Whitaker Center in the College of Arts and Sciences at Florida Gulf Coast University. For 'The Wild Things', I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson.

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