white and brown chickens eating

Want to sound like a poultry aficionado and impress your friends?  Knowing the basics about a bird’s coloring can help you do just that.  While genetics play an important role in feather coloring, it gets super confusing so we’ll just focus on the fun stuff here.

  • Pigments – There are only two pigments that exist within poultry feather genetics: black and red.  Every recognized color variety is made up of these two pigments, whether they are enhanced, diluted, or masked.  These gene changes are manipulated by us humans through selective breeding.
  • Gender – Males always have brighter and more colorful plumage intended to attract a mate. Females typically have more understated and subtle colors to camouflage them while sitting on a nest of eggs.


Here’s a gallery of the variety of feather colors that are out there. To learn how to better describe chickens and identify breeds based on color, you may also want to check out how to describe chicken feather colors, the anatomy of colors, and feather patterns.