This is actually not so much a gripe about the colors of birds in general, but the description of the creation of green in parots that Cecil mentioned. Although I understand the gist of Cecil’s statement in his article, it was misleading. The statement was:
This sentence seems to me to imply that if you take a blue gel and a yellow gel and pass light through them, masking the blue gel with the yellow one, the resulting light will be green. This is actually not true, since this is subtractive mixing. Simply masking blue with yellow will block all the light. I believe that what Cecil meant in this case is that because the light is being reflected by two different layers, one yellow and one blue, when the light is recombined, it mixes to green.
In detail, what happens is that the originating light hits the outside layer, yellow, and is split. Part of it is reflected at the yellow portion of the spectrum, the rest is allowed to transmit and then hit the second layer where it is again split, this time at blue. The blue part of it is reflected back through the first layer, which allows it to transmit because of its structure. Then the blue mixes with the yellow. It is the additive mixing of the two reflected colors that creates the green, not the masking of the blue by the yellow.
DISCLAIMER: The above statement regarding a blue gel and a yellow gel will depend on the purity of the blue and yellow and the quality of the gel.