Moulting waders.

Subject: Moulting waders.
From: "Dean Portelli" <>
Date: Wed, 03 Jul 2002 17:57:32 +1000

To answer your query regarding whether waders have two moults in a year, going from breeding into non-breeding and vice versa - YES (see below). I am not a wader expert so I am not sure that all species of wader have both plumages and thus moult twice a year.
The following relates to birds in general, rather than waders specifically.
For species that have a breeding (alternate) and a non-breeding (basic) plumage they go through two moults per annual cycle. However, not all feathers are moulted in both moults. One of the moults (the prealternate moult - meaning it is the moult into the alternate plumage) is a partial moult in most species of bird where all feathers except the main tail and wing feathers are typically replaced. The other moult (the prebasic moult) is a complete moult meaning that all feathers are typically replaced. So the sequence of plumages starting with the juvenile plumage (the first "set" of feathers - i.e not down) for a typical bird with two plumages a year is as follows: Juvenile Plumage ---- first prebasic moult (partial in most species) --- first basic plumage ---- first prealternate moult --- first alternate plumage --- second prebasic moult --- second basic plumage --- second prealternate moult --- second alternate plumage etc etc until the definitive basic and definitive alternatie plumages are attained (definitive plumages are those that remain relatively unchanged from year to year i.e. adult plumage. The moult into the definitive plumage is called the definitive basic or definitive alternate moult). This terminology is only one of the terminologies used - it is called the Humphrey and Parkes Terminology. You will notice I have said typically a couple of times. This is because moult can vary quite a bit, for some birds they may "skip" replacing a few feathers in one moult, so for example a stint may carry a few of its first primaries (e.g. if it skipped say the outer two in its first complete moult) and also have some of its second primaries (say primaries 5 to 8) and is growing its new third primaries (say primaries 1 to 4). That is this bird has feathers of three different ages in the one wing!!. To take another example with waders, moult of the primaries usually starts from the inner primary and progresses outward, I have seen a stint that had replaced the first few primaries, did not moult the middle primaries and was growing the outer primaries. For those birds which have only a single plumage each year the sequence of moults and plumages is the same as above if you omit all alternate plumages and prealternate moults.

Hope this answers your question!

Cheers, Dean

From: "Stuart Fairbairn" <>
To: <>
Subject: [BIRDING-AUS] Moulting waders.
Date: Mon, 1 Jul 2002 17:24:12 +1000

Do waders have two moults in a year, going from non breeding into breeding
and then the reverse to return to non breeding?

Stuart Fairbairn

Sydney Australia

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