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Why dark plumage of the European Blackbirds Turdus merula?

Why does the European Blackbird┤s dark coloration match the ground color of the less widespread of its breeding habitats, the riparian forest, although its main European population occurs in the pale-litter woodland? It is argued that crypsis of all the age stages was more necessary in riparian stands, as this habitat is more risky for the species owing to a high ground vegetation surrounding a foraging bird. Poorer crypsis of Blackbird plumage in pale litter habitats may be a neutral feature, being compensated by easier scanning of the surroundings over the lower and sparcer herb vegetation and by a tendency to remain in dark sites. The black plumage of the blackbird male, perhaps reinforced by sexual selection in pristine conditions may also retain a cryptic function.

WWW: Lundiana 7(2):127-132, 2006

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