Ageing criteria in the Starling Sturnus vulgaris

The reliability of various criteria (throat feather length and the characteristics of rectrices and upper tail‐coverts) previously suggested for ageing Starlings was assessed using a sample of known‐aged birds. Total length of the longest throat feather was the most reliable criterion in male Starlings, correctly assigning age to 95% (n=83) of birds. Only 58% (n=28) of adult males had rectrices and tail‐coverts with complete ‘adult’ characteristics, and no first‐year males (n=55) had these feathers with complete ‘first‐year’ characteristics. In female Starlings, the best ageing criterion was length of the iridescent part of the longest throat feather but this only correctly assigned age to 56% (n=48) of birds. Only 14% of adult females (n=7) and 27% of first‐year females (n=41) had rectrices and upper tail‐coverts with complete ‘adult’ or ‘first‐year’ characteristics respectively.


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Authors: Williams, T.D.

1 January, 1991
Ringing & Migration / 12
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