Within the plumage of a peacock lies a complex architecture that's continuously changing color. Or so it seems. Though the colors of a peacock are revered, it is just as stunning--if not more so--without them. Often referred to as an albino peacock, it is nothing of the sort. It's technically a white peacock which is a genetic variant of the Indian Blue Peafowl.
Pigment colorization in birds comes from three different groups: melanins, carotenoids, and porphyrines. Melanins occur as tiny specks of color in both the skin and feathers, and ranges from the darkest black to pale yellows. Carotenoids are plant-based and are acquired only by eating plants or by eating something that ate a plant. They produce bright yellows and brilliant oranges. The last pigment group, Porphyrins, produces a range of colors including pink, browns, reds, and greens.
But feather structure is as important to color as pigment. Each feather consists of thousands of flat branches, each with minuscule bowl-shaped indentations. At the bottom of each indentation is a lamellae (thin plate-like layers), that acts like a prism, splitting light. It's the same principle for butterflies and hummingbirds.