Is the blue bird of happiness really black?
Translated by Mara
It is subjective which color attracts the eyes the most, but there is some hypnotic force in the blue of the birds, and perhaps there is an explanation for this. The colors of the bird world are usually given by the colors taken from the food. The red canary, for example, will only be red if peppers are mixed into the food when changing feathers. Melanin is responsible for black, red and orange are caused by carotenes, but blue is not part of the color of blue birds either.
The blue feather actually contains only melanin, i.e. it would be black by default, but the structure of the blue feather creates an interference phenomenon: it refracts light so that it radiates only the blue.
So the plumage of the “blue bird of happiness” actually only contains black color, its blue color is actually structural radiation. These jay feathers show well what the feather would have been like without the tiny air bubbles that cause the interference phenomenon. In the black parts, the feather has a normal structure, so there is a black melanin. I’m always amazed when a blue bird gets in my hands: no matter how blue I see it, there’s not a hint of blue in it! But we can also learn from birds. Our paints almost always contain toxic substances, and over time they decompose, transform and fade.
The situation would be different if we used structural colors: they would not be toxic and their durability would exceed the durability of traditional paints.