Winter body condition in relation to age, sex and plumage ornamentation in a migratory songbird

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6 Citations (Scopus)


Winter body condition may play important roles in the life history of migratory birds, but it is difficult to estimate. We used the growth rate of winter-grown tail feathers of Collared Flycatchers Ficedula albicollis as an indicator of winter body condition, comparing this trait between age classes and sexes and relating it to plumage ornamentation (forehead and wing patch sizes). Adults and males were in better nutritional condition during winter, as indicated by their faster tail feather growth rates, than were yearlings and females, respectively, which could indicate differences in individual quality and foraging ability with age, or age- and sex-related winter habitat segregation. However, feather growth rate was related neither to the size of the winter-grown forehead patch nor to the size of the summer-grown wing patch, suggesting weak condition-dependence for the winter-grown ornament and complex life-history consequences for the summer-grown ornament.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)410-413
Number of pages4
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1 2012


  • Moult
  • Plumage ornaments
  • Ptilochronology
  • Winter habitat quality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology

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