Good morning all,
In some respects I think Con has partially answered his own question. A bird with a hint of red on the area around the face could indicate a female or a bird
moulting to its first basic male plumage, but one with red coming through in other areas is almost certainly a male . It is not possible therefore to tell an immature (as opposed to a juvenile which can’t be sexed) male from a female on feather colouring alone,
there are other factors to be looked at, e.g. gape colour. Juveniles are pretty easy to tell in the hand but unfortunately none of the field guides and HANZAB actually show a true juvenile. I banded my first Scarlet Honeyeaters at a site near Moruya a few
years ago and the vast majority of the birds caught were juvenile. By then, unfortunately for Peter Marsack who did the passerine illustrations for the new Australian field guide, the plate for the Scarlet Honeyeater had already been done using what appears
to be misidentified “juvenile” museum skins. Regrettably, I didn’t have a camera with me at the time so no photographs were taken. The terms juvenile and immature are thrown around pretty loosely and this often leads to confusion.
Perhaps if all the photos taken by the respective photographers are all put together then it may be possible to work out what is an “immature” male and what
is an adult female. I am prepared to have a look if people are interested.
From: Con Boekel [
Sent: Saturday, 7 October 2017 8:18 AM
Subject: Re: [canberrabirds] Scarlet Honeyeaters at ANBG
Jule and myself have been working on our numbers using our observations and images. It comes to this: three adult males, one immature male in the process of gaining some male plumage and two other brown birds. These may be either females or immature, but
unmarked males. I have just checked Morcombe who states that immature males 'resemble' females, so the question that arises is this: is it possible to differentiate a female from an unmarked immature male?
Any advice appreciated.
On 10/6/2017 9:19 PM, Julie Clark wrote:
Following on from Con's emails regarding the
Scarlet Honeyeaters, I too have gone through my photos, most of which were taken earlier in the day, and I think that I snapped a third brown bird. It has some colour on the head and face, but is definitely a different bird to the one Con has shown (which
I also photographed.) I'm not sure if it's a second female or another younger male (photo NoC8A8602 on Flickr).
Advice would be appreciated.
Photos of each of the 5 birds that I snapped are on Flickr. I'm not sure that I actually saw a third adult male, but it was hard to keep track of them.
Richard, Lindell and I also saw the
Olive Whistler today in the region of the Owlet Nightjar (one photo also on Flickr).