Sunday, February 10, 2013

Weekend Wisdom: Transfiguration and the Flamingo

This being Transfiguration Sunday in the calendar of many Christian churches, the children's sermon in church this morning was an attempt at explaining transfiguration to the kids.  Big word for them! The analogy used by our pastor was that of the flamingo. 

Merriam-Webster defines transfiguration as "a change in form or appearance" and gives metamorphosis as a synonym.

Adult and juvenile flamingo (Wikipedia)
He showed a photo of a pink flamingo and the kids knew what it was. Then  he showed them a picture of a baby flamingo and it was a greenish-white color. He explained that flamingos didn't turn their characteristic pink color until they were about three years old and then it was due to their diet of algae and shrimp.

That got me thinking and wondering if there were any other animals whose colors are a result of what they eat. The answer is yes!

For example, our state bird, the cardinal, is red due to its diet.  Berries are one of the main staples of their diet, and the carotenoids in those berries are manifested in its feather follicles.  Some pigments in the diets of birds are converted to different colors, depending on the species.

Northern Cardinal

If you kept a cardinal in captivity and fed it one kind of seed that didn't contain these carotenoids, its plumage would get progressively duller with each molt.


The Frizzy Hooker said...

Well, what do you know? Very interesting.

blogger templates | Make Money Online