Sylvia atricapilla - spring



Since the pre-br moult in most individauls is rather restricted (at most, some inner GC and TT may be included), the ageing characters used in autumn are still mostly valid. In 2cy, moult contrasts are often present in outer GC and sometimes also in AL, RR and TT. Adult birds show a generally uniform, dense and less worn plumage.


  • If present, juv GC (commonly 0-4 juv GC unmoulted) are detectable by being warmer brown, more worn and with looser texture. If all GC are moulted, there is still a contrast between retained juv PC and GC (less easily detected). Note that outermost GC1 sometimes is slightly browner than other GC (even within the same generation), and an assessment of feather structure is recommended.
  • Juv PC are worn and usually show a looser texture and more brownish edges compared with ad birds.
  • Juv AL are rather brownish (and in the same state of wear as PC), sometimes contrasting with post-juv AL showing fresher greyish or olive edges and glossy dark/black centres.
  • Juv TT show a looser texture and a browner ground colour and contrasts with post-juv GC. Note that some birds may show TT moulted in either the post-juv or pre-br moult.
  • Juv RR (as well as PP) are generally narrower, slightly more pointed and more worn compared to ad ones.
  • Whole plumage is in better condition. A few birds may show pre-br inner GC or TT, but most birds at Ottenby lack visible moult contrasts in the wing.
  • PC are dense and often show greyish or olive edges.
  • AL show glossy dark centres with greyish or olive edges.
  • TT show a dense texture and a more olive ground colour, similar to the GC.
  • RR (as well as PP) are broader, and in better condition. 


2cy (male) April. GC1 is retained juv, showing warmer brown colour and less dense texture, contrasting to the adjacent post-juv GC. [1ET29421]

2cy (female) May, showing variation with retained juv GC1-4 [1ET29482]

2cy (male) April, showing retained juv GC1. Note that 11% of the birds at Ottenby include all 10 GC in the post-juv moult and, hence, contrast is still found with the juv PC. [1ET29475]

2cy (female) April, showing retained juv GC1-3. [1ET29451]

3cy+ (male) April. Note overall still rather fresh, dense and uniform plumage lacking any moult contrasts. [1EV96420]

3cy+ (female) May, showing variation of the ad wing. [1EV95645]

3cy+ (male) May, showing variation. [1ET82300]

3cy+ (female) May. Note that adult birds may also show a slightly browner GC1. [1EV95559]

2cy (male) April. Juv PC are generally worn, less dense and usually lack the neat grey or olive edges seen in ad birds. Also note retained juv CC, AL and GC1. [1ET29475]

2cy (female) April. All 10 GC have been included in the post-juv moult, making ageing more difficult. However, note the contrast between post-juv GC and retained juv PC, CC and AL. [1ET29466]

2cy (male) April, showing variation. Note that the retained juv GC1 is similar in stucture and wear to the PC. [1ET29421]

2cy (female) April, showing retained juv GC1-3, similar to juv PC, CC and AL. [1ET29451]

3cy+ (male) April. GC, PC, CC and AL appear uniform in colour, stucture and wear. Also note the neat grey edges on the outer vane of PC. [1EV96420]

3cy+ (female) May, showing variation. [1EV95645]

3cy+ (female) May, showing variation. [1ET82297]

3cy+ (female) April. A few ad may show slightly more worn PC. Note that the grey edges become less distinct when the feather is freyed. [1EV96421]

2cy (male) April. All three TT are of typical juv quality - looser texture, more worn and with slightly paler brownish centra than in ad. Comparison with the inner post-juv GC is often helpful. [1ET29421]

2cy (male) May. Another set of juv TT, contrasting to post-juv GC. [XH20608]

3cy+ (female) May. Ad TT are denser and have slightly more olive edges with darker grey centres., similar to the post-br GC. [1EV95559]

3cy+ (female) May, showing slightly more worn post-br TT. [1EV95645]

2cy (male) May. Juv RR are generally narrower, more pointed and show a higher degree of wear and bleaching. [XH20608]

2cy (female) May. Right R3-6 are retained juv while the rest of the tail is post-juv (probably regrown after accidental loss). [1ET29482]

3cy+ (female) May. Ad RR are generally slightly broader and in better condition (denser, darker with more glossy). [1EV95645]

3cy+ (female) April, showing variation. Note that some ad show RR which are less obvious in shape. [1EV96421]

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