Hi All -
I'm sure there are more knowledgeable individuals on VTBIRD, so please correct me so I can continue to learn.
Happy to continue this discussion, on- or off-list as appropriate.
Just a comment, if I may. I don't believe there's a reliable way to tell the age of these birds 'in the field' and it also presents some difficulties in the hand, for bird banders. Streaking in the upper breast, if present, can be of help for age determination, of course, but that's likely to be seen in fewer than 25% of the SY (second-year = hatched last year = first winter) individuals at this time of year. There are two color variants of this bird, the brownish, less prominently marked, and the strikingly colored one that epitomizes the name. It's my understanding that these plumages do not indicate age or sex but apparently two different variations, perhaps like dark or light-haired Caucasian people. I'm not aware of the details, but I believe that some studies have shown that the subtly-colored birds mate with the more colorful ones, and the male-female mix of these two varieties is also part of the pairing at breeding time. Thanks.
Writing from slightly snowy South Hadley, MA, where the lone WTSP has not been seen with the junco flock for 10 days now.
Certified Trainer, Passerines and Hummingbirds
Chair, Certification Committee
North American Banding Council
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