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Pinpointing age, moult and sex in Victorian Game Waterfowl – Elcos

Pinpointing age, moult and sex in Victorian Game Waterfowl

In regards to the industry guide

This industry guide equips the waterfowl hunter with information to aid them in distinguishing age, intercourse and moulting stages in harvested game ducks. These details can offer understanding of a populace’s efficiency, current status and recruitment from period to period. All waterfowl hunters in Victoria should be competent in pinpointing various waterbird species. Nevertheless, this guide just isn’t designed to teach hunters on types recognition, but instead to illustrate types of determining age, moult and sex.

Enhancing game management effort

In 2006, the Victorian Government launched the ‘Enhancing Game Management’ effort. This effort is designed to better handle our duck, deer and species that are quail their habitats, legit and include community teams in on-ground preservation works. This industry guide is a product associated with the initiative.

That is this guide for?

This industry guide provides hunters by having a reference that is quick to key characteristics in determining age, intercourse and moult of Victorian game waterfowl. It’s compact and durable enough to carry with you on the go. For convenience, nearly all info is pictorial, so observe colours and habits closely.

Why identify age, moult and sex

These facets of waterfowl biology offer critical home elevators the efficiency of populations, especially recruitment from period to period. Identifying the timing of moult in game wild birds, provides information that is important durations whenever harvesting should take place without impacting reproduction.

Hunter bag studies

Hunter bag studies are undertaken because of the Department of Primary Industries (DEPI) each duck period. These studies offer wildlife managers by having a snapshot of types, location, age & intercourse of waterfowl being harvested. These details, is very important when determining period lengths and case limitations. Choices making use of this information make certain that our waterfowl resources and searching tradition will be sustained for generations to come to enjoy.


In determining age and intercourse of a bird, it’s important to comprehend the terminology utilized to explain the physiology while the names for the feather teams on the wing. Pages 14–29 of the guide describe the plumage faculties of each and every game types in determining age and intercourse. Utilize Figure 1 and 2 as a guide whenever pinpointing such faculties.

Figure 1 The physiology of the duck (instance: adult Pacific Black Duck).

Figure 2 Feathers of the duck wing (instance: adult Pacific Black Duck). (adapted from Marchant and Higgins 1990).

What’s moult and just why will it be essential?

Moult is the method of changing worn feathers with brand new people, or changing all of them with more colourful feathers to make them more desirable to mates that are potential. Moulting happens in reaction to a combination of regular changes that are hormonal. During wintertime, ducks moult and change their feathers during the time that is same. Ducks stay flightless during a percentage of the right time if they moult their wing feathers. It’s important to avoid searching during this time period as ducks will soon be susceptible as their journey is weakened and overharvesting could happen. Figure 3 shows an overview that is simplistic of stages in just a moult period. an understanding that is basic of moult period pays to in determining the chronilogical age of waterfowl.

What exactly is plumage?

Plumage describes colouration of the bird’s feathers. Various moults cave in to plumages that are varying. The initial moult a duck undergoes because it matures from a chick could be the very very first moult that is pre-basic. In this moult the juvenile duck replaces its downy feathers with completely created human body feathers. The bird is categorized an immature bird upon conclusion of very very first pre-basic moult. Its brand brand brand new feathers are drab in color and considered plumage that is basic. When you look at the spring that is early simply because the reproduction period gets underway, a partial lack of feathers takes place whenever male ducks put on their reproduction plumage. After breeding, the bird will go through the full moult (wing and human anatomy) and return back once again to its non-breeding plumage that is basic. This really is when wing moult is many obvious. (Note: only a few game types display traits regarding the complete moult period).

Figure 3 Moult Cycle (example: Australian Wood Duck).

Distinguishing moult in waterfowl

When wild birds reach readiness (4-6 months) they will have withstood one cycle that is complete of. Throughout the moult that is annual waterfowl have actually a total and simultaneous moult of these wing feathers (named remige moult) which actually leaves them flightless for just two to 4 weeks. This generally does occur after breeding, where in fact the male reverts back into fundamental plumage and undergoes wing moult that is complete. If breeding does occur later into the season, wing moult may be still obvious in harvested waterfowl. Figure 4 defines the stages within remige moult and what things to look out for in distinguishing moult in harvested waterfowl.

  1. The primary flight feathers and most of the secondary feathers have been lost in the first stage of moult. Seek out numerous loss in journey feathers.
  2. More or less 5 times to the remige moult, the journey feather guidelines emerge from their sheaths that are soft. Search for the current presence of growing feathers (or ‘pin’ feathers).
  3. About fourteen days following the start of remige moult, the soft sheaths start to create the shaft for the journey feathers. (in harvested birds, this phase is oftentimes mistaken because of the current presence of shot harm).
  4. Complete remige moult. The shafts associated with journey feathers are completely created additionally the bird has the capacity to travel.

Figure 4 Remige moult stages.

Distinguishing the chronilogical age of waterfowl

Waterfowl may be categorized into three age groups; juvenile, immature and adult. Juveniles could be identified by the existence of the downy plumage. Immature wild wild birds (yearlings) are far more tough to recognize. Because they have actually undergone the very first pre-basic moult, immature wild wild birds can retain some juvenile downy feathers and additionally undertake adult plumage faculties. Figure 5 shows generalised differences when considering adult and immature feathers which can be broadly put on waterfowl that is victorian.

Figure 5 Feather faculties of immature and adult ducks (instance: Pacific Ebony Duck journey feathers).