Re: Unpredictable moults

Subject: Re: Unpredictable moults
Date: Tue, 12 May 1998 12:33:05 -0400 (EDT)
Having spent a lot of time looking at molt in Gulls on the other side of the 
big pond, I just have to say that it seems completely pointless trying to 
determine what a bird SHOULD be doing based on theoretical considerations, 
which will surely have been based on studies of a small number of species. 
Whatever happens in chooks and ducks may have nothing at all relevant to say 
about what happens in Spinifexbirds.

Preconceptions will often be the worst enemy when trying to see what is 
going on. Dwight was so convinced that Gulls have a complete molt in the 
fall that he stated that Western Gulls have "a complete postnuptial moult in 
August and September." This seems to have been based on a single specimen 
which had already replaced all but one of its primaries by August 3! In 
fact, the molt he was talking about starts in April and May. And the primary 
molt begins later as the bird ages. Western Gulls are abundant along the 
west coast of North America, yet nearly everything you read about their molt 
turns out to be completely wrong when you actually look at it, even when it 
comes down to how MANY molts there are!

Cheers, Chris.

Chris Corben
PO Box 2323
Rohnert Park, CA, 94927-2323

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