In 2011 we began highlighting articles that we believe deserve special attention from our members and hopefully increase interest in the journal in readers who are not members now. Below are my choices for this issue of The Auk.
Widespread cryptic dichromatism and ultraviolet reflectance in the largest radiation of
Neotropical songbirds: Implications of accounting for avian vision in the study of plumage
Kevin J. Burns and Allison J. Shultz
Burns and Shultz report results of an exhaustive survey of plumage dichromatism of species in the Cardinalidae (cardinals and grosbeaks) and Thraupidae (tanagers) and show that UV reflectance is widespread, and dichromatism is far more extensive in these two large groups than previously thought. Given the importance of color for sexual and natural selection, and behavior generally, Burns and Shultz’s findings should cause us all to now look at birds with a far more discerning (if ill-equipped) eye!
Feather growth rate and mass in Nearctic passerines with variable migratory behavior
and molt pattern.
Iván de la Hera, David F. DeSante, and Borja Milá
Despite its importance for birds, we are still ignorant of many aspects of molt and much remains to be learned. North temperate-zone breeding birds generally molt after breeding, but de la Hera and his colleagues show that migratory behavior and speed and timing of molt are related. Patterns are further complicated for passerine species that breed in western North America because some undergo a stopover molt within the Mexican monsoon region midway through migration, and these species have the shortest molt duration among all Nearctic passerines.
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