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Number of species: 79

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Blackpoll Warbler - Setophaga striata

Blackpoll Warbler has a partial preformative molt and partial prealternate molts that include some to all greater coverts and some to all tertials. Although plumage varies somewhat by age and sex, differences can be subtle, and the age of many individuals is reliably confirmed only through skull ossification in fall, and in spring many intermediates cannot be aged with certainty. Sex can generally be determined by plumage from FCA (SY) onward.

Quick tips

  • Look at the primary coverts - they are relatively narrow and pointed on FCF/FCA (HY/SY) birds and can be visibly paler and more worn than the greater coverts, whereas on DCB/DCA (AHY/ASY) birds they tend to be broader and more rounded, and only moderately paler than the greater coverts.
  • Examine the outer rectrices - they are usually somewhat paler and a bit narrower and more pointed on FCF/FCA (HY/SY) birds as compared to DCB/DCA (AHY/ASY), but the differences are relatively subtle in this species, and only the extremes may be helpful for ageing.
  • In alternate plumage (spring/summer), examine the crown - it is solid black on DCA (ASY) males, black with light mottling on FCA (SY) males, olive-gray with distinct black streaks on DCA (ASY) females, and olive-gray with indistinct dark streaks on FCA (SY) females.
  • In formative/basic plumage (fall/winter), consider the underparts - DCB (AHY) males have distinct black streaks on a white background, sometimes with a yellow tinge; DCB (AHY) females have moderately distinct dark streaks on a largely yellowish background; FCF (HY) birds have indistinct streaking on a variably yellowish-white background.

Species account prepared by McGill Bird Observatory (2016). Last updated by Marcel Gahbauer (Mar 2022)

The molt categories displayed below may be filtered by month.

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Click on any image below to bring up the side-by-side comparison tool.

Individuals not in molt

FCJ - (HY: June - August)
Mottled all over and fairly brownish
No images available yet
FCF - (HY: July - December; SY January - April)
Primary coverts, primaries, and secondaries distinctly duller and paler than dark gray (F) to blackish (M) greater coverts; rectrices sometimes relatively narrow; underparts whitish (M) to yellowish (U); back feathers with minimal (F) to intermediate (M) black spots near tips
M
Thumbnail - MG2-2560-24833-Setophaga_striata_AOU_7_52-2248.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2560-24833-Setophaga_striata_AOU_7_52-2250.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2560-24833-Setophaga_striata_AOU_7_52-2249.jpg
F
Thumbnail - MG2-2500-65741-Setophaga_striata_AOU_7_52-2251.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2500-65741-Setophaga_striata_AOU_7_52-2253.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2500-65741-Setophaga_striata_AOU_7_52-2252.jpg
FCA - (SY: March - July)
Primary coverts, primaries, and secondaries distinctly duller and paler than dark gray (F) to blackish (M) greater coverts; rectrices sometimes relatively narrow; crown olive-gray with indistinct dark streaks (F) or black with some mottling (M)
M
Thumbnail - MG2-2650-43162-Setophaga_striata_AOU_7_52-2229.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2650-43162-Setophaga_striata_AOU_7_52-2231.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2650-43162-Setophaga_striata_AOU_7_52-2230.jpg
F
Thumbnail - MG2-2460-40285-Setophaga_striata_AOU_7_52-2235.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2460-40285-Setophaga_striata_AOU_7_52-2237.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2460-40285-Setophaga_striata_AOU_7_52-2236.jpg
DCB - (AHY: July - December; ASY January - April)
Primary coverts, primaries, and secondaries relatively dark with greenish edging; rectrices sometimes particularly broad; underparts whitish (M) to yellowish (U); back feathers with intermediate (F) to large (M) black spots near tips
M
Thumbnail - MG2-2440-72008-Setophaga_striata_AOU_7_52-2241.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2440-72008-Setophaga_striata_AOU_7_52-2243.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2440-72008-Setophaga_striata_AOU_7_52-2242.jpg
F
Thumbnail - MH3-2460-40749-Setophaga_striata_AOU_7_52-2247.jpg Thumbnail - MH3-2460-40749-Setophaga_striata_AOU_7_52-149.jpg Thumbnail - MH3-2460-40749-Setophaga_striata_AOU_7_52-150.jpg
DCA - (ASY: March - July)
Primary coverts, primaries, and secondaries somewhat duller and paler than dark gray (F) to blackish (M) greater coverts; rectrices sometimes particularly broad; crown olive-gray with distinct dark streaks (F) or solid black (M)
M
Thumbnail - MG2-2490-24771-Setophaga_striata_AOU_7_52-2216.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2490-24771-Setophaga_striata_AOU_7_52-2218.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2490-24771-Setophaga_striata_AOU_7_52-2217.jpg
F
Thumbnail - MH3-2490-24791-Setophaga_striata_AOU_7_52-2222.jpg Thumbnail - MH3-2490-24791-Setophaga_striata_AOU_7_52-303.jpg Thumbnail - MH3-2490-24791-Setophaga_striata_AOU_7_52-304.jpg

Individuals in active molt

FPJ - (HY: June - August)
Similar to FCJ; some natal down remaining and/or juvenile flight feathers still growing in
No images available yet
FPF - (HY: July - August)
Similar to FCF; median and greater coverts, often the greater alula, and occasionally some to all tertials being replaced
No images available yet
FPA - (SY: February - May)
Similar to FCA; some to all greater coverts and often some to all tertials being replaced
No images available yet
SPB - (SY: July - August)
Flight feathers being replaced, with retained juvenile primaries, secondaries, and/or primary coverts distinctly pale brownish and worn
No images available yet
DPB - (AHY: July - August)
Flight feathers being replaced, with retained primaries, secondaries, and/or primary coverts either distinctly adult (generally grayish, less worn) or intermediate
No images available yet
DPA - (ASY: February - May)
Similar to DCA; some to all greater coverts and often some to all tertials being replaced
No images available yet

Applicable unknown plumage/age classes

Molt classes Age Months Key traits
M-FPF / UPU (FPF, SPB, DPB) U July - August Undergoing preformative or prebasic molt, but cycle is not reliably distinguishable
M-FCF / UCU (FCF, SCB, DCB) U/AHY July - April In formative or basic plumage (molt completed), but cycle is not reliably distinguishable
M-FPA / UPA (FPA, DPA) AHY February - May Undergoing prealternate molt, but cycle is not reliably distinguishable
M-FCA / UCA (FCA, DCA) AHY March - July In alternate plumage (molt completed), but cycle is not reliably distinguishable

Number of species: 79

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