Juvenile Oriental Magpie-robin Moulting into Adult

posted in: Feathers-maintenance | 0

“This juvenile Oriental Magpie-robin (Copsychus saularis) was actively in moult when first encountered on 18th September 2011 (above). Its upperpart was mostly brownish but had some irregular patches of black. The fluffy plumage on its front was mottled brown. The bird was clearly still wearing its juvenal plumage but it was in moult. It had an unkempt appearance due to its patchy moulting. Pin feathers were visible on its forehead and part of its wings.

“This juvenile was a very trusting and friendly bird that allowed close range photography. It must have graduated to independence as no adults were in sight and it was capable of sourcing for its own food. It was scanning the ground quietly when it caught sight of something. In the blink of an eye, it darted out from its perch to catch an alate in its bill (above right). The alate was processed by bashing on the ground a few times before it became the bird’s meal.

“Some 4 weeks later, I was fortunate to encounter this individual again (above). And there was yet another opportunity for photography after another 2 weeks (below). Thus, its gradual morphing from juvenile into adult plumage could be pieced together after processing the photos taken . The attached pictures were chosen to illustrate its change from juvenile to sub-adult (after 4 weeks), and then to young adult (after 6 weeks).

“Note the pin feathers that were gradually disappearing as the bird morphed into an adult. Note also the brownish feathers gradually being reduced and replaced by black-coloured adult feathers. After 6 weeks, the unkempt juvenile had morphed into a handsome young adult male.”

Kwong Wai Chong
11th November 2011

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