Ficedula parva - spring

Red-breasted Flycatcher


During spring, ageing is primarily based on assessment of wear in PP, GC and PC. Both age classes may (but most do not) show a moult contrast with pre-breeding inner GC (but many 2cy show the same contrast as during autumn, between post-juvenile and juvenile GC). Moult contrasts may also be present in tail in both age classes. Colour of iris gives no support during spring.


  • Juvenile GC and TT are worn and often rather frayed. The pale tips may be worn off (leaving a small gap in the feather tip) or may still show, but now often bleached pale buff.
  • A moult contrast (with 1-3 moderatly worn inner post-juvenile GC) may be present in many 2cy birds. Note that Cramp & Perrins (1993) state that a few GC are included in the pre-breeding moult (in both age classes), creating a contrast with fresh inner GC. In our sample this seems rare, but should still be kept in mind.
  • The juvenile PC are worn (often considerably) and frayed and often appear darker brownish compared to adult ones.
  • If juvenile alula feathers are still present, they are brownish worn, often in contrast to post-juvenile or pre-breeding ones showing less worn greyish tips/edges and a more glossy dark/black centre.
  • Tips of PP are generally more more worn and bleached, often appearing more brownish.
  • Any juvenile RR still left (often R1) are generally considerably worn, narrower and more pointed than post-juvenile or pre-breeding RR.
  • Iris is not useful during spring as it has developed adult colour/pattern.
  • PC often in slightly better condition than in 2cy, on average less worn and often a bit paler with slightly greyish edges.
  • Alula feathers (post-breeding and/or pre-breeding) show glossy dark centra with less worn greyish tips/edges. No juvenile alula present.
  • Tips of PP generally in slightly better condition, being darker and less worn and bleached.
  • RR are generally pre-breeding (but single retained post-breeding RR are regularly seen, often R1). Retained post-breeding RR differs from retained juvenile RR (2cy) by being broader and in better condition.
  • Iris is not useful during spring.

2cy May. The 7 outermost GC are unmoulted juvenile, slightly paler brown, more worn and showing remnants of the pale buff tips, in contrast to the innermost 3 post-juvenile GC which are in slightly better condition and a trifle darker olive. [SV2351]

2cy May, showing variation with 8 outer GC unmoulted juvenile, and the inner GC9-10 (only GC9 visible here) post-juvenile. [SS6890]

3cy+ male May. Uniform and moderately worn post-breeding GC showing a denser feather quality and lack of remnants of pale buff tips. [SS6889]

3cy+ female May, showing variation. [SV2361]

2cy May. The still juvenile TT have a dry brown colour and are worn. [SS6891]

2cy May, showing variation. [SS6915]

3cy+ May. Adult TT are in better general condition and have a slightly more greyish brown colour. [SN8991]

3cy+ May, showing variation. [SS6889]

2cy May. Whole is tail pre-breeding, giving no clue for aging. [SS6892]

2cy May. Whole tail is pre-breeding except for both R1 that are still juvenile (but in this individual still relatively fresh). [SV2351]

3cy+ male May. Whole tail is pre-breeding. But note that also adult often retain unmoulted post-breeding R1 in spring (and occasionally also other RR). [SS6889]

3cy+ female May. Whole tail is pre-breeding. [SV2340]

2cy May. Juvenile PC are worn (often considerably) and frayed and the innermost feathers sometimes retain pale buffish tips. [SS6906]

2cy May, showing variation. [SS6930]

3cy+ May. Adult PC are often in better condition than juvenile, on average less worn and often a bit paler with slightly greyish edges. [SN9000]

3cy+ May showing variation. [SV2344]

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