Wing feather moult and age determination of Snowy Owls Bubo scandiacus
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How to Cite

Solheim, R. (2012). Wing feather moult and age determination of Snowy Owls Bubo scandiacus. Ornis Norvegica, 35, 48-67. https://doi.org/10.15845/on.v35i0.289

Abstract

Moult of primary and secondary flight feathers of Snowy Owls Bubo scandiacus was studied from 53 museum specimens retaining some juvenile feathers. There were no ringed Snowy Owls of known age in the skin material, and the moult pattern has thus been interpreted using the moult of Eagle Owls Bubo bubo as a model. The difference between juvenile and adult primaries is described. Greater coverts may facilitate age determination of single flight feathers. Snowy Owls start their first flight feather moult M1 by shedding the innermost 2-6 secondaries during their second summer (as 2C birds). A majority of the owls also shed primary P7 during this first moult, occasionally also P8. This moult progresses at a faster pace than seen in Scandinavian Eagle Owls. During their second flight feather moult M2, moult of secondaries advances outwards, including moult from the two focal points S2 and S5, as in the Eagle Owl. Both P7 and P8 are moulted and fresh after M2, and some owls even moult P6 or P9. After the third flight feather moult M3 it is very hard to distinguish juvenile secondaries from old M1 secondaries, and a specific moult pattern is most easily recognized in primaries. On sharp images of the upper side of wings on a flying Snowy Owl, or on birds in hand, it should be possible to age birds up to four calendar years (4C) in autumn and five calendar years (5C) in spring, before onset of the fourth flight feather moult M4.

https://doi.org/10.15845/on.v35i0.289
PDF (Norsk Bokmål)
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