Emberiza citrinella - autumn

Yellowhammer / Gulsparv


In 1cy, moult contrasts are often present in tertials and sometimes also in RR. Adult birds show a uniform and freshly moulted plumage. The general condition and shape of RR and PC are often helpful. Colour of iris is supportive.
  • Juvenile RR are generally of less good quality, slightly more worn, narrow and more pointed. Some young birds (c. 16% according to Jenni & Winkler [1994]) include one or a few RR in the post-juvenile moult, resulting in a moult contrast.
  • 0-3 tertials (often the inner one or two) are included in the moult, and many birds show a moult contrast where the post-juvenile feathers are more fresh and dense and show a darker centre than the remaining juvenile ones. Be sure to compare with the (juvenile) SS and (post-juvenile) GC.
  • The juvenile PC usually shows a looser texture and slightly more worn tips and edges compared to adult birds. Further, they usually show a slightly paler brown centre and less neat green edges and greyish tips than adult ones, but individual variation should be kept in mind.
  • Many birds show a moult contrast in the CC/alula area, but this is often rather difficult to establish.
  • More or less all individuals moult all ten GC, and these feathers seldom contain any vital information for the ageing (and the contrast to the PC is very hard to see). However, exceptions occur (rarely) and may show a moult contrast with single unmoulted juvenile outer GC.
  • Iris is usually helpful during autumn - 1cy have, on average, a slightly colder grey iris.

  • Whole plumage uniform and fresh, lacking moult contrasts (but remember that singel RR may have been lost and replaced, resulting in contrastingly different wear).
  • Adult RR are generally in better condition, often slightly broader with more blunt shaped tips.
  • PC are of good quality, more dense and fresh and often with darker and more glossy center and neat green edges and greyish tips.
  • Iris is greyish-brown, warmer than juvenile (but beware of variation).
1cy (male) October. Juvenile RR are generally more worn, show more pointed tips and are, on average, slightly narrower than in adult. Note that left R2 is moulted post-juvenile, being more fresh, slightly broader and with blunter tip compared to right R2. [2KR45048]
1cy (female) October, showing a uniform juvenile tail with rather worn and narrow RR with pointed tips. [2KR09935]
2cy+ (male) October. Adult RR are generally in better condition, slightly broader with more blunt shaped tips. [2KR09975]
2cy+ (male) October. Keep in mind that birds of any age may accidently loose and replace single RR. [2KR44977]
1cy (male) October. Quite many 1cy, like here, show uniformly juvenile tertials. Note the juvenile structure and wear and the rather brownish centra. Compare to the state ande structure of the juvenile inner SS and the post-juvenile inner GC. [2KR45048]
1cy (female) October, showing a moult contrast where the innermost two tertials are moulted post-juvenile, while the outer longer one is unmoulted juvenile. This contrast may sometimes be rather hard to see, but note the slight difference in wear (identical in the two inner feathers, more worn in the outer one) as well as in the colour and gloss of the centre, were the inner two tertials are blackish and the longer one is more brownish. [2KR45006]
1cy (male) October. Another bird showing a moult contrast with the two inner tertials moulted post-juvenile and the longer one retained juvenile. Again, compare with adjacent inner SS (juvenile) and inner GC (post-juvenile). [2KR44978]
1cy (female) October, showing uniformly post-juvenile tertials, contrasting to juvenile inner SS being slightly more worn and less dense in the feather structure. [2KR09248]
2cy+ (male) October. Adult birds shows a uniform post-breeding wing. All tertials, SS and GC are of the same fresh and dense generation. [2KR09975]
2cy+ (male) October, showing variation. [2KR44977]
1cy (male) October. The juvenile PC shows a looser texture and slightly more worn tips and edges compared to adult birds. Further, the centre of the PC are often slightly paler brownish and less glossy than in adult, and the edges and tips are often less neat green/grey. However, there is a clearvariation, and some individuals are less easy to asses. [2KR44978]
1cy (female) October, showing variation in the juvenile PC. [2KR45006]
2cy+ (male) October. Adult PC are of good quality, fresh, glossy dark, more dense and fresh and often show finer green edges greyish tips. [2KR44977]
2cy+ (male) October, showing variation. [2KR09975]
1cy (male) October. Since practically all 1cy (like this one) include all ten GC in the post-juvenile moult, GC are seldom of any use for ageing. [2KR45048]
1cy (female) November. Exceptions are rare, but this bird shows unmoulted juvenile outer GC1-4 (slightly more worn, slightly differing in pattern and, importantly, a less dense structure than the post-juvenile GC5-10) and give further aid in the ageing process. [2KR45323]
2cy+ (male) October, showing a uniform post-breeding wing. [2KR44977]
2cy+ (male) October, showing variation. [2KR09975]
1cy (female) October. During autumn, the colder grey iris of 1cy may be helpful, but note that the development of the colour of the iris is subject to variation. [2KR45323]
2cy+ (male) March. In adult birds, the iris is slightly warmer greyish-brown. [2KR09706] 
More Emberiza citrinella:
Sexing autumn
Ageing spring
Sexing spring
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