Effects of Whole-body Irradiation on the Breeding Plumage of the Weaver finch, Quelea quelea

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Abstract

THERE have been recent unsubstantiated reports that individuals of certain migratory species of birds have arrived in their African wintering grounds in breeding plumage instead of their normal eclipse condition1. Again, several migratory waders have been collected in Great Britain in unseasonal plumage. Some have been found to be radioactive ; an examination has shown in some of the birds stimulation effects of the neuro-endocrine apparatus abnormal for the season (Harrison, J. M., personal communication). There is no evidence that the two factors are related, but the possibility that the anterior pituitary and sexual cycle, involving plumage changes, have been artificially disturbed by radiation could not be overlooked.

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References

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LOFTS, B., MARSHALL, A. & ROTBLAT, J. Effects of Whole-body Irradiation on the Breeding Plumage of the Weaver finch, Quelea quelea . Nature 187, 615–616 (1960) doi:10.1038/187615a0

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