Major Mitchells

To: Philip Veerman <>
Subject: Major Mitchells
From: Melissa Falconer <>
Date: Sat, 1 Jul 2006 18:18:13 +1000 (EST)
Hi Phil,

  Seems I ruffled your feathers with this speculation!

  To clarify the email:

   In Vic MMC's breed between Aug and Nov.
   Immature (= sub-adult)  All plumages that follow first moult until full 
breeding capacity and/or plumage is reached.  Birds are usually independent of 
  Generally speaking  immature female birds can be aged by their eye colour, 
general plumage colour and overall build.  Females do not reach full breeding 
plumage for up to four years.  For instance the brick red eye colour is not 
complete until about four years of age; although the colour change commences at 
about two years.  The body plumage colour is duller in younger birds and the 
body shape is often slender, giving the overall appearance of a bird with a 
thin body and 'boof' head.

  Male birds can be similarly aged by eye colour, body shape and crest shape 
and colour.  Generally speaking they do not reach full breeding plumage until 
two years old.  The crest feathers of males tend to have more curl than females 
and the curl increases with age, often exceeding 90 degrees.  The frontal band 
of pink above the cere widens with maturity. Colour of frontal band also 
changes from pale dull pink to bright deep pink in adults.

  My travelling mate conducts training for Vic. and S.A. wildlife agencies with 
regards to Major Mitchell ageing and sexing for the purpose of conducting 
aviculture inspections to prevent illegal trafficking of wildlife.  He knows 
his stuff.

  I trust this helps you.


  Scott Falconer.

Philip Veerman <> wrote:
          Re this: "My travelling partner has studied MMC's for several decades 
in the area and could only identify half a dozen immature birds, which sadly 
seems to back the theory that the population is ageing and on the decline."

  Is that so? What time of year do they breed there? Would it not be the case 
that at this time of year, most young birds are no longer dependant. On that 
basis at this time of year there would be expected to be few Dependant Young, 
if that is what is meant by immature birds? (How else do you tell them apart?)


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