A new study on birds around Chernobly, Ukraine, site of the infamous 1986 nuclear plant meltdown, has discovered that brightly colored birds are more damaged by radiation than their drab counterparts.
The colorful birds, like the Great Tit above, use the same chemicals in their body to create colorful plumage as they do to absorb harmful free radicals. By using the chemicals for coloring their feathers, they have less of it available to fight the cancer-causing free radicals so prevalent after a nuclear accident.
Birds with red, orange or yellow feathers were particularly vulnerable. The complete study, which surveyed 257 locations around Chernobyl, will be published in an upcoming edition of the Journal of Applied Ecology.