Emberiza shoeniclus - autumn

Common Reed Bunting

AGE – BEST CRITERIA:


In 1cy, moult contrasts are often present in RR, alula and TT, but are not always easy to detect. 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.
 
1cy: 
  • Juvenile RR are generally of less good quality, slightly more worn, narrow and more pointed. Many young birds (c. 48% according to Jenni & Winkler [1994]) include one or several (sometimes even all) RR in the post-juvenile moult, resulting in a contrast in many individuals.
  • 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 have less tendency to show greyish tips than adult ones, but individual variation should be kept in mind.
  • Many birds show a moult contrast in alula, with inner one (or two) being fresh, dark glossy and with neat brown edges in good condition (like the CC), in contrast to juvenile outer one (or two) which is more worn brownish.
  • 0-3 TT (most commonly two) are included in the moult, and many birds show a moult contrast where the post-juvenile feathers are more fresh and show a darker centre than the remaining juvenile ones. Note, however, that the longest TT is often (within the same feather generation) slightly paler than the inner two, and assessment of wear is therefor important before concluding a moult contrast. 
  • 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 may occur, and glance at the outer GC is always advicable.
  • Iris is usually helpful during autumn – 1cy have a rather cold grey iris.
2cy+:
  • Whole plumage uniform and fresh, lacking moult contrasts. But remember that a) singel RR may have been lost and replaced, creating a contrast, and b) the slightly paler longest T may create a false impression of a contrast.
  • Adult RR are generally in better condition, slightly broader with more blunt shaped tips. But remember that a few 1cy bird include the whole tail in the post-juvenile moult, making it useless for ageing.
  • PC are of good quality, more dense and fresh and often with greyish tips.
  • Iris is greyish-brown, warmer than juvenile.

1cy (male) September. Juvenile RR are generally more worn, show more pointed tips and are, on average, slightly narrower than in adult. Note that left R3 is moulted post-juvenile, being more fresh, slightly broader and with blunter tip compared to right R3. [1ET80494]

1cy (female) October, showing variation. This bird shows post-juvenile left R5-6, in contrast to the rest of the tail which is juvenile. [1ES23071]

2cy+ (male) November. Adult RR are generally in better condition, slightly broader with more blunt shaped tips. But remember that a few 1cy bird include the whole tail in the post-juvenile moult, then making it useless for ageing. [1ET29303]

2cy+ (female) October, showing variation. [1EV96248]

1cy (male) September. The juvenile PC shows a looser texture and slightly more worn tips and edges compared to adult birds. Note that this individual also show a moult contrast in AL where the innermost is moulted post-juvenile and fresh in contrast to the outer two feathers which are both juvenile (the central one is slightly worn with brownish centre and less neat brown edges - compare with the birds to the right and below). [1ET80494]

1cy (female) October, showing variation in the juvenile PC. In this bird, the two inner AL are post-juvenile (the central feather shows a dark and glossy centre and neat brown edges), in contrast to the more worn outermost (largest) juvenile feather. [1ET80658]

2cy+ (male) November. Adult PC are of good quality, more dense and fresh and often show fine greyish tips. Note also the appearance of non-juvenile AL - fresh, glossy dark and with neat brown edges. [1ET29303]

2cy+ female (October), showing variation. [81909836]

1cy (female) October. Quite many 1cy, like here, show uniformly post-juvenile TT, unseparable from the subsequent adult generations. [1ES23071]

1cy (female) October, showing a moult contrast where the innermost T is moulted post-juvenile, while the outer two are unmoulted juvenile. This contrast may sometimes be rather hard to see, but note the slight difference in wear (identical in the two outer feathers, more fresh in the inner one) as well as in the colour and gloss of the centre, were the innermost T is blackish and the central one is brownish-black (and remember that the outermost T always is paler brown than the other two, regardless of which generation is present). [1ET80658]

2cy+ (male) November, showing variation in post-breeding (/post-juvenile) TT. [1ET29303]

2cy+ (female) October, showing variation. [1EV96248]

1cy (male) September. Since practically all 1cy (like this one) include all ten GC in the post-juvenile moult, GC are seldom of any use for ageing. But exceptions should be expected, and single juvenile outer GC may eventually give further aid in the ageing process. [1ET80494]

2cy+ (male) November, showing a uniform post-breeding wing. [1ET29303]

1cy (female) October. During autumn, the cold grey iris of 1cy is often helpful. [1ES79590]

2cy+ (male) August. In adult birds, the iris is warmer greyish-brown. [1ET28462]

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