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Number of species: 71

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Ovenbird - Seiurus aurocapilla

Ovenbird has a partial preformative molt, and absent to limited prealternate molts that are restricted to the head. 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.

Quick tips

  • Look at the tertials - rusty or pale tips on juvenile feathers are useful to recognize FCF (HY) birds and may still be visible in some FCU (SY) birds, but can wear off by then, leaving them looking similar to the unmarked adult tertials 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 tend to be more broad and rounded toward the tip and occasionally include small white spots.
  • In fall, consider the crown - on FCF (HY) birds the central crown stripe has little or not orange, whereas on DCB (AHY) individuals there is usually a fair amount of orange.

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)
Lacking distinct head pattern; rusty mottling of upperparts
No images available yet
FCF - (HY: June - December; SY January - March)
Rectrices relatively narrow and pointed, lacking any white spots; tertials often with small rusty or pale tips; no to little orange in central crown stripe
U
Thumbnail - MG2-2321-00500-Seiurus_aurocapilla_AOU_7_52-2693.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2321-00500-Seiurus_aurocapilla_AOU_7_52-2691.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2321-00500-Seiurus_aurocapilla_AOU_7_52-2692.jpg
FCU - (SY: January - July)
Rectrices relatively narrow and pointed, lacking any white spots; tertials sometimes with small rusty or pale tips remaining; moderate to extensive orange in central crown stripe
U
Thumbnail - MG2-2030-67554-Seiurus_aurocapilla_AOU_7_52-2687.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2030-67554-Seiurus_aurocapilla_AOU_7_52-2685.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2030-67554-Seiurus_aurocapilla_AOU_7_52-2686.jpg
DCB - (AHY: June - December; ASY January - March)
Rectrices relatively broad and rounded, sometimes with small white spots near the tip of the outer feathers; tertials uniform in color; often a small to moderate amount of orange in central crown stripe
U
Thumbnail - MG2-2321-00467-Seiurus_aurocapilla_AOU_7_52-2699.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2321-00467-Seiurus_aurocapilla_AOU_7_52-2697.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2321-00467-Seiurus_aurocapilla_AOU_7_52-2698.jpg
DCU - (ASY: January - July)
Rectrices relatively broad and rounded, sometimes with small white spots near the tip of the outer feathers; tertials uniform in color; moderate to extensive amount of orange in central crown stripe
U
Thumbnail - MG2-2030-67553-Seiurus_aurocapilla_AOU_7_52-2690.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2030-67553-Seiurus_aurocapilla_AOU_7_52-2688.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2030-67553-Seiurus_aurocapilla_AOU_7_52-2689.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: June - August)
Similar to FCF; median and greater coverts being replaced
No images available yet
FPA - (SY: January - March)
Similar to FCF; some head 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 - (ASY: January - March)
Similar to DCB; some head 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 - March In formative or basic plumage (molt completed), but cycle is not reliably distinguishable
M-FPA / UPA (FPA, DPA) AHY January - March Undergoing prealternate molt, but cycle is not reliably distinguishable
M-FCU / UCU (FCU, DCU) AHY January - July In formative, basic, or alternate plumage (molt completed), but cycle and plumage are not reliably distinguishable