Sylvia communis - sexing autumn

Common Whitethroat


Sexing Common Whitethroats needs a cautious approach since many birds (incl. some adults) are quite intermediate and variation is marked. Even experienced ringers regurlarly make mistakes, see e.g. Waldenström & Ottosson (2000).

1cy birds should generally be left unsexed, while many, but far from all, 2cy+ can be sexed according to the below:

2cy+: Males have pure ash grey feathers to crown (variably concealed by brownish tips when fresh), greyish LC, a pinkish hue over the breast (may be concealed by buffish tips when fresh) and a cleaner whitish throat. Females, on the other hand, should show no pure grey on crown, no more than little grey on LC, no pinkish (but often a creamy buffish) hue on breast and a weak buff hue on the throat.
Still, due to variation, a few birds are likely to end up in the wrong catergory.

Male, 2cy+, August. Pure ash grey feathers are present (and partly visible) in the crown, the throat is whitish and the breast has a slight pinkish hue. [1ET80074]

Male, 2cy+, August. LC shows a greyish colour. [1ET80074]

Female, 2cy+, August. Brownish crown lacking pure ash grey, throat shows a weak buff hue and the breast is creamy buff (but not pinkish). [1ET29840]

Female, 2cy+, August. LC are dominantly brown with, at most, little grey present. [1ET29840]

2cy+ September, sex unknown. Example of a bird that does not quite fit into the categories and, hence, should be left unsexed. [1ET80166]

2cy+ September, sex unknown. Note the rather intermediate greyish hue in te LC. [1ET80166]

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