It is forecast to be Rain Showers at 10:00 PM PST on January 30, 2015
Rain Showers
Home » Santa Clarita News » Environment » SCV Outdoor Report » Santa Clarita Outdoor Report: Living Color, Part I
Santa Clarita Outdoor Report: Living Color, Part I

Santa Clarita Outdoor Report: Living Color, Part I


I’m old enough to remember when color TV was the EXCITING NEW techolology.  After dinner on Sunday night, the sight of those LIVING COLOR peacock feathers let us know it was time for “Bonanza”!  But as vivid as those TV feathers were, they can’t hold a candle to the sight of real peacocks.  Did you ever wonder what gives feathers their combination of muted and vibrant colors? 


There are two general mechanisms for producing color in feathers: pigments and structural colors.  These mechanisms can work separately or in combination.

Pigments include:

1)  Melanin pigments, which color the “feathers darkest black to reddish browns and pale yellows”.  Birds produce melanin from amino acids.


2)  “Carotenoids are produced by plants, and are acquired by eating plants or by eating something that has eaten a plant.”  These pigments color the feathers bright red, yellow and orange.  They can also combine with melanin to produce olive-green.


3)  “Porphyrins, the third pigment group, are produced by modifying amino acids”  and they “fluoresce a bright red when exposed to ultraviolet light”.  They produce a range of colors, including pinks, browns, reds and greens and are found in some owls, like this Great Horned Owl at Placerita Canyon.

 (Photo courtesy S. Loerger.)

Structural colors differ from pigment colors, in that the color is produced by the microscopic structure of the feathers and the manner in which they scatter light.  Sometimes the color changes with the angle of light, resulting in an iridescent sheen, as with this Costa’s hummingbird.

 (Photo courtesy S. Loerger.)

Sometimes, when the light is randomly scattered, it results in a blue color, as with this Stellar Jay.

 (Photo courtesy S. Loerger.)

Fifty years after color TV’s became popular and affordable, our technology has greatly improved.  Now we can watch “Bonanza” on an iPad with “Retina display” and “rich color saturation”.  How does this newer digital version of “Living Color” compare to the reality of bird feathers?  Let’s explore that question next week.


Upcoming Outdoor Events: 

Trail Maintenance Schedule.  Come join our volunteers as they help maintain our trails.  Contact Steve at for time and place.

Wednesday mornings, March 6, 13, 20, & 27.
Saturday mornings, March 2 & 16.

Saturday, March 16, 8:00 -10:00 AM.  “Up with the Birds” at Towsley Canyon.  Meet in the parking lot at the gate.  Click here for a map and directions.

Saturday, February 23, 1:00 – 3:00 PM.  “Early Spring Wildflowers” at Towsley Canyon.  Meet in the parking lot at the gate.  Click here for a map and directions.

New trail maps available.  If you’d like to explore a bit on your own, the City of Santa Clarita has a website with trail maps of our local open spaces.

There’s also a new website for bicycle riders.  


You can listen to stories like this every Friday morning at 7:10 a.m. on “The SCV Outdoor Report”, brought to you by your hometown radio station KHTS (AM1220) and by the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority.

For the complete MRCA hike and activity schedule and for trail maps, click here or go to    

Or check out our Facebook page  – L.A. Mountains.

Do you have a news tip? Call us at (661) 298-1220, Or drop us a line at

Santa Clarita Outdoor Report: Living Color, Part I

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

About hometown