If there is a cost to producing a dark color patch, the size of a patch may not correspond with its pigment concentration. The plumage of male house sparrows represents a case of dark, melanin-based ornamentation, but also a case of neglecting the composite nature of dark signals in birds. Here, I investigated what kind of associations exist between the brightness, chroma, and hue of dark integumentary patches and the size of a secondary sexual trait, the bib, in male house sparrows. I found that males with a larger bib also had a darker bib and bill, and a more saturated bib, bill, epaulets, head crown, and breast than small-bibbed males. Male bib coloration in terms of brightness and chroma was more strongly related to bib size than the coloration of other integumentary patches. However, with respect to hue, only the hue of the bill and cheeks was related to bib size. My results indicate that size, brightness, and chroma of the bib, but also chroma of other deeply colored patches, convey redundant information about the signaler's quality in male house sparrows.
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