Thursday, 22 December 2011

Ageing our Snow Bunting

I sent images of the Startop's End Snow Bunting to Norbert Roothaert, Head of the Ringing Group in Belgium, who consequently passed them round to those that trap and ring the species frequently. In general, the discussion agreed with that of mine - that the bird is a FIRST-WINTER MALE......

The comment concluded ''Very nice pictures but Snow Buntings are not so easy to age, even in the hand. Also there are two subspecies "nivalis" and "insulae" (I ring them both here). I think the bird of the picture is certainly a male bird, and most likely a 1st calender year, the inner tail feathers are very pointed, (V-shaped), although in the hand you have to consider the 1st and the 4th tail feather. The longest primary covert shows quite some black at the tip, in adult birds this is almost or entirely white. I would go for a 1st calender male, possibly ssp "nivalis", but therefore you need the colour of the rump, in "nivalis" more rufous, in "insulae" more blackish"

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