I shoot (Canon 7D) using auto-white balance and more often than not I adjust the white balance to try and better match the colours in the image with those I remember (or to be closer to the colours depicted in my field guides). This can be done by selecting "daylight", "cloud", "shade",or choosing a temperature. (For the record Canon daylight corresponds to something around 5200K whereas with my Sony daylight seems to be around 5600K).
When I processed these shots originally I chose to use 5200K as the reference temperature.
In the following images I have kept everything identical except the temperature so you can see the impact it has on the appearance of the critter.
|As originally posted (5200K)|
|At 5200K again|
The picture was taken at 9.30 am on a bright sunny morning and the bird was in a near perfect position - about 10 feet up with the light directly behind me. The low level of the sun at this time of year will impart a yellow cast to the picture so the final representation is down to taste as much as anything.
To me the 4000 and 4400K shots are too cold given the conditions irrespective of what I thought the bird looked like - though I have to admit I like the look of the 4400K picture! To me the 4800K, "as shot" and and 5200K all look acceptable though the "as shot" looks a little brown on the mantle for my taste. 5600K doesn't look that bad either but it's getting a little too warm.
I'm sitting on the fence wrt just what the bird is because I just don't have the knowledge /experience to do otherwise. I only post these shots to show that the "colour" of a bird can be pretty subjective. It will change depending on the lighting conditions and on how you choose to process it.
Who said the camera never lies!!!