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Number of species: 74

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Pine Warbler - Setophaga pinus

Pine Warbler has a partial preformative molt but no prealternate molts. Plumage differs by age and sex, but only subtly, and for many individuals, age can be reliably confirmed only through skull ossification in fall, and sex through brood patch or cloacal protuberance during the breeding season.

Quick tips

  • Examine the primary coverts, which on FCF (HY/SY) individuals are generally paler brown than the darker and fresher greater coverts, where as on DCB (AHY/ASY) birds there is less contrast between these feather tracts, although by spring the difference between age classes can be subtle.
  • Check the shape of the outer rectrices - on FCF (HY/SY) birds they are fairly pointed and often abraded by spring, while on DCB (AHY/ASY) birds they are broader, fairly rounded, and more likely to remain fresh, but again there are many intermediates that are unhelpful for ageing.
  • Consider the colour of the underparts - DCB (AHY/ASY) males have a yellowish to yellow breast contrasting with a white belly, FCF (HY/SY) males have a yellowish breast and whitish to white belly, DCB (AHY/ASY) females have a greenish-yellow breast and white to buff belly, and FCF (HY/SY) females show relatively little contrast between a dull yellowish breast and buff belly.

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.


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

Individuals not in molt

FCJ - (HY: April - July)
Largely brownish above and buffy below; buffy wing bars
No images available yet
FCF - (HY/SY: May - following August)
Primary coverts slightly paler than greater coverts, sometimes a bit pointed; rectrices relatively narrow and pointed; underparts largely dull yellowish-buff (F) or whitish belly contrasting with a yellowish breast (M)
Thumbnail - MG2-2600-17228-Setophaga_pinus_AOU_7_52-2705.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2600-17228-Setophaga_pinus_AOU_7_52-2703.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2600-17228-Setophaga_pinus_AOU_7_52-2704.jpg
DCB - (AHY/ASY: June - following September)
Primary coverts largely uniform with greater coverts, generally broad and rounded; rectrices fairly broad and rounded; belly whitish to buff and breast greenish-yellow (F) or belly white to whitish and breast yellow to yellowish (M)
No images available yet

Individuals in active molt

FPJ - (HY: April - July)
Similar to FCJ; some natal down remaining and/or juvenile flight feathers still growing in
No images available yet
FPF - (HY: May - August)
Similar to FCF; median and greater coverts, and often the greater alula being replaced
No images available yet
SPB - (SY: June - September)
Flight feathers being replaced, with retained juvenile primaries, secondaries, and/or primary coverts distinctly pale brownish and worn
No images available yet
DPB - (AHY: June - September)
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

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 January - December In formative or basic plumage (molt completed), but cycle is not reliably distinguishable

Number of species: 74

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