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Number of species: 79

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Northern Waterthrush - Parkesia noveboracensis

Northern Waterthrush has a partial preformative molt, and limited prealternate molts that are restricted to the body and difficult to detect. Age-related differences in wing and tail patterns are often subtle; especially by spring, a fair number of intermediates should be considered M-FCU (AHY) unless multiple characteristics indicate a particular age. Sex can generally be determined only by brood patch / cloacal protuberance during the breeding season.

Note that Northern Waterthrush can be reliably distinguished from the similar Louisiana Waterthrush by a narrower and slightly yellowish supercilium and undertail coverts with distinct dark patches.

Quick tips

  • Look at the tertials - in fall, FCF (HY) birds have narrow rusty or pale tips (sometimes still present on FCU/SY birds in spring); absence of such tips is not a reliable indicator of DCB/DCU (AHY/ASY) birds.
  • Examine the rectrices - on FCF/FCU (HY/SY) birds they are relatively narrow and tapered to a point, while on DCB/DCU (AHY/ASY) birds they are more broad and rounded toward the tip, and may include white spots.

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)
Upperparts mottled with rusty tips; underparts indistinctly streaked
No images available yet
FCF - (HY: June - December; SY January - April)
Rectrices somewhat narrow and pointed, lacking any white spots; tertials often with small rusty or pale tips
U
Thumbnail - LL4-3111-40771-Parkesia_noveboracensis_AOU_7_52-1255.jpg Thumbnail - LL4-3111-40771-Parkesia_noveboracensis_AOU_7_52-1256.jpg Thumbnail - LL4-3111-40771-Parkesia_noveboracensis_AOU_7_52-1257.jpg

Thumbnail - MG-TDA.B0024753-Seiurus_noveboracensis_EBIRD2021-5069.jpg

Thumbnail - MG-NA_213-Seiurus_noveboracensis-616.jpg
FCU - (HY: October - December; SY January - August)
Rectrices somewhat narrow and pointed, lacking any white spots; tertials sometimes with small rusty or pale tips remaining
U
Thumbnail - MH3-NA_403-Parkesia_noveboracensis_AOU_7_52-884.jpg

Thumbnail - MH3-NA_404-Parkesia_noveboracensis_AOU_7_52-885.jpg
DCB - (AHY: June - December; ASY January - April)
Rectrices broad and rounded, sometimes with small white spots near the tip of the outer feathers; tertials uniform in color
U
Thumbnail - LL4-3111-40769-Parkesia_noveboracensis_AOU_7_52-1262.jpg Thumbnail - LL4-3111-40769-Parkesia_noveboracensis_AOU_7_52-1263.jpg Thumbnail - LL4-3111-40769-Parkesia_noveboracensis_AOU_7_52-1264.jpg
DCU - (AHY: October - December; ASY January - August)
Rectrices broad and rounded, sometimes with small white spots near the tip of the outer feathers; tertials uniform in color
U
Thumbnail - MH3-NA_341-Parkesia_noveboracensis_AOU_7_52-784.jpg

Thumbnail - MH3-NA_485-Parkesia_noveboracensis_AOU_7_52-994.jpg

Individuals in active molt

FPJ - (HY: June - July)
Similar to FCJ; some natal down remaining and/or juvenile flight feathers still growing in
No images available yet
FPF - (HY: June - September)
Similar to FCF; median and greater coverts being replaced
No images available yet
FPA - (HY: October - December; SY January - April)
Similar to FCF; some head and body feathers being replaced
No images available yet
SPB - (SY: June - August)
Flight feathers being replaced, with retained juvenile primaries, secondaries, and/or primary coverts distinctly pale brown and very worn
No images available yet
DPB - (AHY: June - August)
Flight feathers being replaced, with retained primaries, secondaries, and/or primary coverts either distinctly adult (relatively dark, less worn) or intermediate
No images available yet
DPA - (AHY: October - December; ASY January - April)
Similar to DCB; some head and body feathers being replaced
No images available yet

Applicable unknown plumage/age classes

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

Number of species: 79

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