Some scientists have microscopes for looking at tiny things. Other scientists make bubbling potions in different shaped bottles. Our scientists are researching why pigeons have shiny green and purple necks. Why these ‘birds’ have iridescent moving parts. Why a pigeon drone glimmers in the light, like a slick of oil on a wet road.

Thankfully, they can work from home and now, we have an answer.

Firstly, we will discover WHY pigeons are shiny. Then, because it’s super interesting, we’ll look at HOW they make this biotech iridescence.

The pigeon drone’s primary function is surveillance. This means high quality vision is key and pigeons have a natural advantage as they see a wide spectrum of light – even wider than humans. So where we see every colour of the rainbow, the pigeon drone sees past the purples into ultraviolet. The iridescent appearance of a pigeon’s neck is right at the edge of the human spectrum, and the drones see the UV colours beyond it. This allows the pigeon drones to easily identify each other. An algorithm within its CPU (central pigeon unit) can then coordinate surveillance operations in live time. The shiny neck is essentially a digital signature which is largely invisible to the human eye. Perfect for government spies.

pigeon vision UV ultraviolet

Moving on to the HOW!?

The iridescent signature is created by the refraction of light caused by a microscopic structure in the feather. The refraction works like a prism, splitting the light into the full array of colours, including the invisible ultraviolet. Then as the viewing angle changes, different refractions of light become visible, giving the pigeon its shimmering neck as well as its unique drone signature.

Crafty little spy drones.

pigeon iridescence feathers