Yearling birds generally display duller colours than adults. This may be due to selection favouring birds with more intensely coloured plumage or to an increase in colour after the first complete moult. Most research to date on the topic has been carried out on species with structural plumage coloration or with carotenoid-based coloration that is produced by the unmodified deposition of pigments. However, no study has been carried out on species whose carotenoids are metabolically modified before deposition. In this study, we assess age-related changes in the carotenoid-based coloration of European Serins, a species that metabolically processes carotenoids before they can be deposited into feathers. Birds were captured over consecutive years and we carried out both cross-sectional and longitudinal analysis. Adults had significantly greater values of lightness and chroma than yearling birds. However, there were no changes in plumage colour when analysing the same individuals captured in subsequent seasons. Plumage lightness and chroma of adult males after moult were related to body mass, suggesting a role of body condition on plumage coloration. Our results suggest that changes in plumage coloration with age in European Serins are due to a selection process that favours more intensely coloured individuals.
Pagani-Núñez, E., & Senar, J. C. (2012). Changes in carotenoid‐based plumage colour in relation to age in European Serins Serinus serinus. Ibis, 154(1), 155-160. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1474-919X.2011.01197.x