Monday, November 29, 2021

Age and sex criteria for the hihi (Notiomystis cincta) with additional details on moult patterns

TitleAge and sex criteria for the hihi (Notiomystis cincta) with additional details on moult patterns
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsSmith, C, Walker, LK, Ewen, JG
Type of ArticleFull Article
Keywordsageing, hihi, moult, Notiomystis cincta, sexing, stitchbird

The hihi (Notiomystis cincta) is a small threatened passerine endemic to New Zealand, for which few methods are known for ageing and sexing wild unbanded individuals. We monitored hihi on Tiritiri Matangi Island over 3 years, studying moult and other sexing and ageing techniques. Juvenile hihi before their first partial moult can be sexed by the white bases of primary coverts on males, which appear brown in females. After juveniles undergo their first partial moult, they appear similar to adults; however juvenile males retain old feathers in their primary coverts, alulae, or sometimes greater coverts or inner primaries, while adults undergo a complete moult. These patterns can be difficult to see in juvenile females, but wear of juvenile tails is much greater than in adults at any given time of year, making ageing of females reliable. Moult in the outer primaries and secondaries in autumn also indicate adult birds. This information should help inform future translocations and attempts to monitor viability of wild populations. Finally, we also comment on alternative definitions for ageing criteria from Melville (2011), based not on suspected birth-dates, but on appearance of plumage in hand.

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