Bird Seed Science: Do Birds Prefer Certain Colors?
If cheese was purple, or chocolate was green, would they look as delicious as they do now? Color plays a big part in how we interpret the tastes of different foods.
Just like us, birds have natural preferences for certain kinds of food, such as berries, insects, seeds, nectar and different kinds of plants. Feathered friends also love to eat bird seed. Science tells us that colors can change the way we think different types of grub tastes—is the same true for birds? Let's find out.
Do birds prefer to eat a certain color of birdseed?
- 3 different colors of birdseed
- 3 bowls that are the same size
- Measuring cup
- Separate the different colors of bird seed.
- Measure out 1 cup of bird seed for each color.
- Put 1 cup of the first color of birdseed into one bowl. Repeat with the other colors until you have 3 separate bowls, each with a different color of bird seed.
- Place the bowls outside near each other in an open area outside.
- Think about what you know about avian animals. What do birds eat? What colors are these different edible items?
- In your notebook, write down whether or not you think that the birds will prefer one color of bird seed over another. If you do think the birds will like one color better, which color would that be? Write down your guess—called a hypothesis—in your notebook.
- Wait one full day, and then check on the bowls of bird seed.
- Measure the amount of bird seed left in each bowl. Record what you see (by either drawing the results or writing them out) in your notebook.
- Check on the bird seed three to four times through the day, recording the results each time.
- After your final check-in, record which bowl had the least amount of bird seed in it. Was the color the birds ate the most the one you expected?
Write down the amount of each color of bird seed you used started with: 1 cup. Next, record the amount of bird seed you ended up with. Compare the amounts. The birds should have consumed a certain color more than the others, or chosen to ignore a certain color of seed.
Color is actually very important to birds. Most the time, the most colorful bird is the most respected in a flock. Not only can birds see the colors we can see, but they can see ultra violet colors too.
Ultra violet light comes from sunlight, and ultra violet (UV) rays are what cause sunburns. Ultra violet is close to what humans see as the color violet, a bluish purple. Research has found that the colors birds eat most are bright colors. Hummingbirds, for instance, gravitate toward the color red—it may remind them of flowers they suck the nectar from. Fruits are also very popular with birds not only because they are soft and nutritious, but because they are bright and attractive.
This bird seed science experiment has proven that these feathered friends like brightly-colored meals ... but what about when these birds get thirsty? Continue your scientific discovery by experiementing with different colors of water. Would the birds prefer the same color water as they did seed? Make an educated guess, and start testing! Can you think of other ways to learn more about the things birds like?
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