Anthus trivialis - spring

Tree Pipit

Due to the partial pre-breeding moult in both age classes, the mere presence of a moult contrast is not a valid age character as they are shown by all birds. Individual differences in wear and moult makes ageing problematic at times, and the different feather generations should be examined carefully.
  • Most birds show three generations of feathers among GC, MC and/or LC. The juvenile feathers are generally rather heavily worn, the post-juvenile intermediatly worn and the pre-breeding ones are rather fresh and well kept.
  • Most birds show (at least some) juvenile RR which are more worn, narrow and more pointed than adult ones, but difficult birds are sometimes seen. Contrasts in the tail are often shown by both age classes. A few 2cy have moulted the whole tail, and the RR are then of no use for the ageing
  • Juvenile PC are often slightly less dense and more loose/frayed than in adult, but the difference is not always obvious. Further, juvenile PC are often slightly paler browish-grey and show less neat green edges than adult ones.
  • Tips of PP are on average more worn that in 3cy+.
  • The TT often show a moult contrast. Juvenile feathers are rather heavily worn and somewhat bleached.
  • The plumage lack juvenile feathers, and shows only two generations (post-breeding and pre-breeding). Note, however, that the inner three GC in some birds show a slightly differing pattern (with somewhat darker tips and edges) creating a ’false contrast’.
  • Adult outer post-breeding GC are intermediatly worn, still more well kept than the corresponding juvenile version.
  • Adult PC, esp. the inner ones, are generally more dense, show a slightly darker centre (with some gloss) and more neat green edges than juvenile.
  • Tips of PP are generally more well kept than in 2cy.
  • Many birds show a moult contrast in the tail, but the old and worn generation of RR is post-breeding (and not juvenile).
  • Many birds show a moult contrast in the TT, but the old and worn generation of RR is post-breeding (and not juvenile).

2cy May. Aged by the presence of three feather generations in the wing: GC1-4 are juvenile, GC5-9 are post-juvenile and GC10 is pre-breeding from the winter. MC are post-juvenile (intermediatly worn) and the LC shows a mixture of post-juvenile and pre-nuptial feathers. The CC and innermost AL are pre-breeding. [1ET28156]

2cy April. A rather extensively moulted bird, showing juvenile GC1-6 and pre-breeding GC7-10. The four central MC are pre-breeding, while the adjecent ones (on both sides) are post-juvenile. The LC shows a mixture of juvenile (very worn), post-juvenile (intermediatly worn) and pre-breeding (fresh) feathers. CC and innermost AL are pre-breeding. [1ES23635]

3cy+ May. No juvenile feathers present in the wing. GC1-2 and GC8-10 are post-breeding while GC3-7 are pre-breeding. The central three and the single outermost MC are pre-breeding while the rest are post-breeding. The LC shows a mixture of both generations and the CC and innermost AL are pre-breeding. [1ES24716]

3cy+ May, showing a more restricted winter moult. GC1-9 are post-breeding and GC10 is pre-breeding. MC are post-breeding while the LC shows a mix of both generations. [1ET29622]

3cy+ May. Same individual as to the right, above. Note that this bird (despite being adult) shows three generations of GC. However, the very worn GC9 is a retained 'forgotten' feather that was not included in the complete moult during last summer. Retained/forgotten feathers are not very uncommon in this species and may help in the aging process. [1ET29622]

2cy April. Juvenile RR are generally slightly more narrow, pointed and worn than subsequent generations, but differences in shape is not always appearant. The central pair (R1) is moulted post-juvenile. [1ES23639]

2cy April. The whole tail is moulted post-juvenile and, thus, gives no clue to the age (can not be separated from adult showing post.breeding RR). [1ES23635]

3cy+ May, showing a uniform post-breeding tail. [1ET29622]

3cy+ May. Whole tail is uniform post-breeding. [1ET81535]

2cy May. Juvenile PC are less dense and often slightly more worn and loose/frayed than in adult, but difference is not always obvious (two well kept and more difficult 2cy birds shown here). [1ES23895]

2cy May, showing variation of the juvenile PC pattern. [1ES24715]

3cy+ May. Adult PC are slightly more dense and in better condition (esp. the innermost feathers), sometimes showing broader and more square-shaped tips and often more neat green edges. [1ES24716]

3cy+ May, showing variation of the adult PC pattern. [1ET29622]

2cy May. Juvenile PP are on average more worn and bleached, but differences are not always appearant. [1ET28156]

3cy+ May. Adult PP are on average in better condition. [1ET29622]

2cy May. Innermost T is post-juvenile in contrast to juvenile outer two. [1ET28142]

2cy May, showing uniform pre-breeding TT. [1ES23895]

3cy+ May. Unifom pre-breeding TT. Note that this bird also included S6 in the pre-breeding moult. [1ES24716]

3cy+ May, showing a contrast between central post-breeding T and fresh (innermost and outermost) pre-breeding TT. [1ET29622]

More Anthus trivialis:

Ageing autumn

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