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Colour preferences of UK garden birds at supplementary seed feeders

Rothery, Luke; Scott, Graham W.; Morrell, Lesley J.


Luke Rothery


Supplementary feeding of garden birds generally has benefits for both bird populations and human wellbeing. Birds have excellent colour vision, and show preferences for food items of particular colours, but research into colour preferences associated with artificial feeders is limited to hummingbirds. Here, we investigated the colour preferences of common UK garden birds foraging at seed-dispensing artificial feeders containing identical food. We presented birds simultaneously with an array of eight differently coloured feeders, and recorded the number of visits made to each colour over 370 30-minute observation periods in the winter of 2014/15. In addition, we surveyed visitors to a garden centre and science festival to determine the colour preferences of likely purchasers of seed feeders. Our results suggest that silver and green feeders were visited by higher numbers of individuals of several common garden bird species, while red and yellow feeders received fewer visits. In contrast, people preferred red, yellow, blue and green feeders. We suggest that green feeders may be simultaneously marketable and attractive to foraging birds.


Rothery, L., Scott, G. W., & Morrell, L. J. (2017). Colour preferences of UK garden birds at supplementary seed feeders. PLoS ONE, 12(2), Article e0172422.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Feb 4, 2017
Online Publication Date Feb 17, 2017
Publication Date Feb 17, 2017
Deposit Date Feb 27, 2017
Publicly Available Date Nov 23, 2017
Journal PLoS one
Print ISSN 1932-6203
Electronic ISSN 1932-6203
Publisher Public Library of Science
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 12
Issue 2
Article Number e0172422
Keywords Birds; Foraging; Colour vision
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information This is a copy of an article published in PLoS one, 2017, v.12 issue 2.


Published article (2 Mb)

Copyright Statement
© 2017 Rothery et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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