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Age and sex determination of the Maui Parrotbill

February 1, 2001

We determined the best plumage and morphometric variables for ageing and sexing the Maui Parrotbill (Pseudonestor xanthophrys), an endangered Hawaiian honeycreeper found only on east Maui, Hawaii, by examining and measuring 30 museum specimens and 71 live birds captured in mist nets. Juvenal plumage was identified by the presence of pale-tipped wing bars on the middle and greater coverts, grayish olive dorsal plumage, and dingy white underparts and superciliaries. Birds undergoing first prebasic molt retained the juvenal remiges, rectrices, and wing coverts. Birds in first basic plumage possessed juvenal wing bars and a dull juvenal-like plumage. Subsequent molts were complete, and adults lacked wing bars. Adult males had bright yellow plumage on the cheeks, throat, and superciliaries, as did 27% of adult females. All other adult females had less yellow in the underparts. The dorsal plumage of adult females was more variable than adult males and was either yellow-olive like the males or grayish olive. Adult males had longer wing, bill, tail, and tarsometatarsus and greater mass than adult females. Virtually all males and females could be distinguished by wing length. Morphometrics of immature birds were significantly smaller than for adult males. Only immature male wing chord was significantly larger than that of adult females. Although it was difficult to distinguish between immatures and some adult females based on plumage coloration or measurements, a cut-off point of 70.4 mm for wing chord separated 91% of females from 93% of males, regardless of age.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2001
Title Age and sex determination of the Maui Parrotbill
DOI 10.1648/0273-8570-72.1.12
Authors Kim E. Berlin, John C. Simon, Thane K. Pratt, Paul E. Baker, James R. Kowalsky
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of Field Ornithology
Index ID 70178296
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Pacific Island Ecosystems Research Center