Re: birding-aus Red-necked Stint

To: "Russ & M" <>, "Chris Corben" <>, "birding-aus" <>
Subject: Re: birding-aus Red-necked Stint
From: "Bob & Sadhana Cook" <>
Date: Sun, 28 Mar 1999 10:11:40 +1000


Thanks for the excellent response on the RNS.  Not being experienced, I am
not familiar with alternate plumages. If you are correct and this was one
case of alternate plumage, why would it have been the only one amongst a
dozen or so other RNS with "standard" plumage?  Is alternate plumage a
common thing and do all birds of the species go through such a stage or
just some?  

While I had a good chance to observe from about 10 metres, I did not notice
any colouring at all around the neck.  This does not mean it was not there,
just that I did not notice any.

I seem to be hounded by the bird-eaters at present.  After the case of the
Swamp Harriers/Pied Cormorant last week, yesterday we observed a Collared
Sparrowhawk with its catch of an unidentified bird in our own garden.  We
have seen this bird "hunting" in our garden over the last few weeks,
attempting to get at Thornbills, Silvereyes and Sparrows in the shrubs and
(I have been painting bulls-eyes on the backs of the Sparrows to give him a

Bob Cook
> From: Chris Corben <>
> To: Birding-Aus (Forum) <>
> Subject: Re: birding-aus Red-necked Stint
> Date: Tuesday, 23 March 1999 10:40
> birding-aus
> >about 12 - 15 Red-necked Stints were accompanied by another bird with
> >much paler colouring.  All of the other birds (in non-breeding plumage)
> >were mid to dark grey above, with quite obvious dark markings on the
> >The one pale bird had uniform, slightly mottled, very pale colour above
> Is it possible it was a bird in fresh Alternate plumage? Fresh Alternate
> (=summer=breeding plumage) has very broad grey or even whitish tips to
> the feathers of the upperparts. It is only after the feathers become worn
> that the black centers and rusty edges become apparent. I have seen such
> which looked stunningly pale and uniform without a hint of color and very
> little trace of black, yet which were already in full Alternate plumage
> all the visible feathers were already replaced). To test this idea, you
> to look very closely at the bird. When the wind ruffles the neck feathers
> you might see some red coloration showing through. If you look critically
> the pattern of the scapulars, you should be able to see that they are
> subtlely different from the Basic feathers of the surrounding birds. In
> particular, they will be fresher, since these are unworn Alternate
> vs comparatively worn Basic feathers. Also, the pattern is usually
> different, even if you can see only the tips.
> If you have a copy of "Photographic Guide to the Shorebirds of the World"
> David Rosair and David Cottridge you can see a photo of such a bird on
> 147 bottom left hand corner. You can see how pale it looks above, though
> that bird there has already been enough wear to expose some of the red on
> the throat and the black spots on the chest. The scapulars of that bird
> a bit hard to read. Clearly some are newer than others, but it looks a
> to me as if the oldest, brownest most frayed feathers might still be
> Alternate feathers - probably just the first to be replaced in the recent
> molt and so they have come out with a pattern not very different to
> So essentially, that could be a bird in full, fresh Alternate plumage.
> Compare it with the one just above it and you can see the effect of a few
> months of wear!
> Chris Corben
> PO Box 2323
> Rohnert Park
> CA 94927-2323
> 707-584-8711
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