Prunella modularis - spring

Dunnock / Järnsparv

AGE - BEST CRITERIA:
 
Autumn criterias are still applicable, though 2cy are more affected to wear during the winter than adult. In 2cy, a moult contrast is present in the wing. In most birds the contrast is situated between post-juvenile MC and juvenile GC, and is difficult to discern. In birds with more extensive moult the contrast is found within the GC (or rarely, if all GC was included, the constrast is seen towards the still juvenile PC). Adult birds show a uniform plumage. Best aged on a combination of pattern and structure of GC, PC and RR and colour of iris.
 
2cy: 
  • Juvenile GC are generally slightly narrower, less dense and more contrastingly patterned than adult. The pale spots in the tip of the outer vane are often rather large, quite distinct, oval-shaped and yellowish- or whitish tinged (depending on wear). The edge of the outer vane is warm brown, distinctly set-off against the black centre. As pointed out by Menzie & Malmhagen (2013), the black centre often shows a curved 'hook' as it bends around the lower inner part if the pale spot. The black on the outer vane generally reaches the feather tip through a distinct and rather wide 'channel' between the shaft and the pale spot.
  • A moult contrast may be present in the GC (usually in the inner part of the arm) where the juvenile outer GC shows a weak contrast to the inner ones of adult type (see description below).
  • Juvenile RR are generally more worn, narrow and more pointed, but difficult birds are sometimes seen. In spring, wear to the feather tips may effect the impression of the feather shape, making the RR look blunter. The structure is often helpful, with the juvenile feathers being slightly less dense, less glossy and somewhat paler brownish.
  • Juvenile PC are often slightly less dense and more loose/frayed and worn than in adult, but difference is not always obvious. The brownish outer edge is usually rather narrow, but quite distinct, and does not reach the tip. This results, as noted by Menzie & Malmhagen (2013), in a broad dark feather centre that run with equal width, between the shaft and the brownish outer edge, all the way to the tip. Further, in a few birds, the juvenile PC show a diffuse blackish bar close to the tip, perhaps never seen in adult. 
  • The colour of the iris is seldom of any use since most 2cy have developed an adult-type colour to iris. But any bird showing colder greyish-brown iris is likely to be 2cy.

3cy+:
  • Whole plumage in better condition, dense and lacks moult contrasts.
  • Adult post-breeding GC are generally slightly broader and often a bit square-shaped at the tip, and the over all pattern is less contrasting. The pale spots in the tip of the outer vanes are often smaller (sometimes even absent), more diffuse, whitish and often quite square-shaped with clear 'corners'. The edge of the outer vane is often less warm brown (more olive-brown), and less distinctly set-off against the dark centre. The brown edge is often slightly broader than in juveniles (as broad as the pale spot) which means there is no, or less pronounced, 'hook' in the dark centre, shown by many juveniles. The dark centre is usually somewhat paler (dark grey). If the dark centre reaches the tip (when fresh, the tip often shows a narrow brownish edge, preventing the dark centre from reaching the tip) it is usually through a slightly diffuse and narrow 'channel' between the shaft and the pale spot.
  • RR are generally slightly broader, more blunt tipped and often in better condition.
  • PC are slightly more dense and less worn, sometimes showing broader and more square-shaped tips. The outer edge is often slightly colder greyish-brown, a bit broader and more diffusely set-off towards the dark centre than in juveniles. Further, the greyish-brown outer edge often reaches further out on the feather, closer to the tip, sometimes even narrowly rounding the tip. This pattern gives a dark centre (between the shaft and outer edge) that narrows in width towards the tip.
  • Colour of iris warm brown (as most 2cy).
2cy March. Like most birds, this one shows unmoulted juvenile GC1-10, and the contrast to the post-juvenile MC is difficult to see. However, the GC shown here have a rather typical juvenile pattern. To start with, the central and outer GC (which are more easily assessed than the inner ones) has a brown outer edge with a warm cinnamon tone and is distinctly set-off to the dark feather centre. The centre is contrastingly dark (almost black) and shows a 'hooked' edge as it curves around the inner lower part of the pale spot. Further, the black area on the outer vane reaches the tip through a rather rather distinct and broad 'channel' between the shaft and the pale spot. The pale spots are quite large, distinct, variably yellowish and has an oval-shape. [CN89671]
2cy March. A bird showing post-juvenile GC9-10 in contrast to unmoulted juvenile GC1-8. Compared to the juvenile GC, note the more fresh and dense structure, broader brown outer vane that is more diffusely set off towards the slightly paler grey centre and a (variably) diffuse pale tip to the outer vane. [CV55267]
3cy+ March. A rather typical adult wing showing uniform, dense and rather broad GC. Note that the over all pattern is slightly less contrasting than in juvenile GC. The brown outer edge is less warm, slightly broader and more diffusely set-off to the dark centre. The centre is slightly paler and less contrastingly dark grey, and on the outer vane it barely reaches the feather tip since the 'channel' betwen the shaft and the pale spot is rather narrow, and there seem to be very fine brown fringes remaining in the feather tip. Note also the lack of a black 'hook' below the pale spot, caused by the broader brown outer edge. The pale spot is rather small (may even be missing), quite diffuse and whitish. In this bird the spots are less square shaped with rather weak tendency to show corners. [CN89676]
3cy+ March. Another bird showing some variation of the adult GC pattern. Note that the black centre of the outer vane barly reaches the feather tip because of fine brown tip fringing. [CV55309]
2cy March. Juvenile RR are generally slightly more narrow and more pointed than in adult, but there is a variation in shape and difficult birds are sometimes seen. The structure is often helpful: less dense, less glossy and somewhat paler brownish and more worn than adult post-breeding feathers. Most birds include no RR in the post-juvenile moult, but occasionally single feathers may be moulted. [CP42735]
2cy March, showing variation. [CN89690]
3cy+ March. Adult RR are generally slightly broader, more blunt tipped and often in better condition. [CP42822]
3cy+ March, showing variation in shape and wear of the RR. [CN89689]
2cy April. Juvenile PC are less dense and often slightly more worn and loose/frayed than in adult, but difference is not always obvious. The brownish outer edge is rather narrow and quite distinct, and does not reach the tip. This results in a broad dark feather centre that, between the shaft and the brownish outer edge, run with equal width all the way to the tip. [1ES98126]
2cy March, showing variation of the juvenile PC pattern. In a few birds (not visible here) the juvenile PC has a diffuse blackish bar close to the tip. [CN89690]
3cy+ March. Adult PC are slightly more dense and in better condition, sometimes showing broader and more square-shaped tips. The outer edge is often slightly colder greyish-brown, a bit broader and more diffusely set-off towards the dark centre than in juveniles. Further, the greyish-brown outer edge often reaches further out on the feather, closer to the tip, sometimes even narrowly rounding the tip. This pattern gives a dark centre (between the shaft and outer edge) that narrows in width towards the tip. [CN89676]
3cy+ March, showing variation of the adult PC pattern. [CV55309]
2cy April, showing tertials of rather typical juvenile quality (narrower, less dense, less glossy, more worn). The pattern of the central feather is often rather similar to the juvenile GC, with a broad black 'channel' reaching the tip. [CS01313]
2cy May, showing variation. [CS02014]
3cy+ March. Adult tertials show better general quality, often less distinct pale spots and, on average, a narrower black 'channel' (indeed, in this individual the black centre hardly reach the tip at all). [CN89676]
3cy+ March, showing variation. [CN89689]
2cy March. During spring, the colour of the iris is of little use. Very few (if any?) 2cy birds show an iris that deviates from adult. [CP42735]
3cy+ March. A rather typical adult iris. [CN89676]
More Prunella modularis:
Ageing autumn

Moult
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