Pheomelanin-based colouration is correlated with indices of flying strategies in the Barn Owl

Motti Charter, Yossi Leshem, Ido Izhaki, Alexandre Roulin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Resource polymorphism refers to individuals from the same population foraging in alternative habitats or on alternative food. Food specialization can be associated with adaptations such as colour polymorphism, with pale and dark colours conferring differential camouflage in different habitats. Pale and dark-reddish pheomelanic Barn Owls (Tyto alba) forage on different prey species in closed and open habitats, respectively. We show here that darker-reddish owls have heavier stomach content when found dead, and their 5th secondary wing feather is more deeply anchored inside the integument. These correlations suggest that their feathers bend less when flying, and that darker-reddish Barn Owls are able sustain more intense flying than their paler conspecifics.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)309-312
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Ornithology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2015


  • Colour polymorphism
  • Feather
  • Flying
  • Foraging
  • Melanin
  • Stomach content

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Animal Science and Zoology


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