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ntour feathers are not uniformly distributed on the skin of the bird except in some groups such as the penguins, ratites and screamers. In most birds the feathers grow from specific tracts of skin called pterylae; between the pterylae there are regions which are free of feathers called apterylae (or apteria). Filoplumes and down may arise from the apterylae. The arrangement of these feather tracts, pterylosis or pterylography, varies across bird families and has been used in the past as a means for determining the evolutionary relationships of bird families. Species that incubate their own eggs often lose their feathers on a region of their belly, forming a brooding patch. Coloration Colors resulting from different feather pigments Left: turacin (red) and turacoverdin (green, with some structural blue iridescence at lower end) on the wing of Tauraco bannermani Right: carotenoids (red) and melanins (dark) on belly/wings of Ramphocelus bresiliu
s The colors of feathers are produced by pigments, by microscopic structures that can refract, reflect, or scatter selected wavelengths of light, or by a combination of both. Most feather pigments are melanins (brown and beige pheomelanins, black and grey eumelanins) and carotenoids (red, yellow, orange); other pigments occur only in certain taxa – the yellow to red psittacofulvins (found in some parrots) and the red turacin and green turacoverdin (porphyrin pigments found only in turacos). Structural coloration is involved in the production of blue colors, iridescence, most ultraviolet reflectance and in the enhancement of pigmentary colors. Structural iridescence has been reported in fossil feathers dating back 40 mi