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Number of species: 79

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Pine Siskin - Spinus pinus

Pine Siskin has a partial preformative molt and limited prealternate molts. Age can generally be determined by the presence (first cycle - HY/SY) or absence (definitive cycle - AHY/ASY) of molt limits among the median and greater coverts, but note that feather differences by age can be subtle in this species. Sex is generally not determined reliably by plumage, although the yellow patches on the primaries and secondaries tend to be larger and brighter on males, especially among definitive cycle birds (AHY/ASY).

Quick tips

  • Examine the median coverts and greater coverts - on FCF/FCU (HY/SY) individuals there is a subtle contrast between darker replaced inner feathers with pale to white tips versus slightly paler outer feathers with buff tips; note that some individuals replace all greater coverts in their preformative molt, such that the contrast is between the greater and primary coverts; on DCB/DCU (AHY/ASY) the coverts are uniform in appearance.
  • Examine the outer rectrices, which are relatively broad and rounded on DCB/DCU (AHY/ASY) birds and tend to be somewhat narrower and more pointed on FCF/FCU (HY/SY) birds, though intermediates can be difficult to assess; extensive yellow patches on the rectrices are likely indicative of DCB/DCU (AHY/ASY) males.
  • Examine the primary coverts, which tend to be tapered and dull on FCF/FCU (HY/SY) birds, and more rounded with distinct yellowish edging on DCB/DCU (AHY/ASY) birds.
  • Look at the extent of yellow on the primaries extending beyond the primary coverts - the length typically ranges from several mm on DCB/DCU (AHY/ASY) males to largely absent on FCF/FCU (HY/SY) birds, with DCB/DCU (AHY/ASY) females intermediate and unreliably separated by this characteristic.

Species account prepared by McGill Bird Observatory (2018). Last updated by Marcel Gahbauer (Mar 2022)

The molt categories displayed below may be filtered by month.

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Individuals not in molt

FCJ - (HY: April - September)
Grayish-brown and lightly mottled with buffy tones
U
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FCF - (HY: July - December; SY January - April)
Slight contrast between darker replaced inner greater coverts and outer greater coverts or primary coverts; rectrices sometimes relatively narrow and pointed and usually lacking yellow; little to no yellow showing on primaries
U
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FCU - (SY: January - September)
Primary coverts fairly narrow and pale and often with narrow whitish edging, contrasting with darker replaced inner greater coverts; rectrices sometimes relatively narrow and pointed and usually lacking yellow; little to no yellow showing on primaries
No images available yet
DCB - (AHY: June - December; ASY January - April)
Primary coverts, primaries, and secondaries dark and fresh and often with narrow yellow edging, contrasting slightly if at all with uniform greater coverts; rectrices generally broad and round, with little (F) or extensive (M) yellow, although many intermediates should be considered unknown; yellow patches on primaries absent (F) to large (M), but again many intermediates should be considered unknown
M
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F
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DCU - (ASY: January - September)
Primary coverts, primaries, and secondaries dark and fresh, contrasting slightly if at all with uniform greater coverts; rectrices generally broad and round, with little (F) or extensive (M) yellow, although many intermediates should be considered unknown; yellow patches on primaries absent (F) to large (M), but again many intermediates should be considered unknown
M
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F
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Individuals in active molt

FPJ - (HY: April - August)
Similar to FCJ; some natal down remaining and/or juvenile flight feathers still growing in
No images available yet
FPF - (HY: July - December)
Similar to FCF; some to all median coverts, some to all greater coverts, occasionally some to all tertials, and rarely central rectrices being replaced
No images available yet
FPA - (SY: January - April)
Similar to FCA, with some throat and head feathers being replaced
No images available yet
SPB - (SY: June - October)
Flight feathers being replaced, with retained juvenile primaries, secondaries, and/or primary coverts distinctly pale brown and quite worn
No images available yet
DPB - (AHY: June - October)
Flight feathers being replaced, with retained primaries, secondaries, and/or primary coverts either distinctly adult (generally dark and less worn) or intermediate
No images available yet
DPA - (ASY: January - April)
Similar to DCA, with some throat and 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 July - October 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 January - April Undergoing prealternate molt, but cycle is not reliably distinguishable
M-FCU / UCU (FCU, DCU) AHY January - September In formative, basic, or alternate plumage (molt completed), but cycle and plumage are not reliably distinguishable

Number of species: 79

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