THE MOULT OF THE BULLFINCH PYRRHULA PYRRHULA

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:1966
Authors:Newton, I
Journal:Ibis
Volume:108
Issue:1
Date Published:1966
ISBN Number:1474-919X
Keywords:Fringillidae, Pyrrhula, Pyrrhula pyrrhula
Abstract:SUMMARY The distribution of feather tracts and their sequence of moult in the Bullfinch is described. The adult post-nuptial moult, which is complete, lasted 10–12 weeks, and the post-juvenile moult, which is partial, 7–9 weeks. Adult moult began with the shedding of the first (innermost) primary and ended with the replacement of the last. Variations in the rate of moult in the flight feathers were mainly achieved, not by changes in the growth rates of individual feathers, but in the number of feathers growing concurrently. The primaries were shed more slowly, and the onset of body moult delayed, in birds which were still feeding late young. In 1962, the onset of moult in the adults was spread over 11 weeks from thc end of July to the beginning of October, and in the two following years over the six weeks, from the end of July to the beginning of September. The onset of moult was delayed by late breeding, which itself occurred in response to a comparative abundance of food in late summer, markedly in 1962. In all years, the first juveniles to moult started at the end of July, and the last, three weeks after the latest adults. Juveniles moulting late in the season retained more juvenile feathers than those moulting earlier. During moult, adult and juvenile Bullfinches produce feathers equivalent to 40% and 33% respectively of their dry weights. In both, for much of the moult, an average of nearly 40 mgm. of feather material—some 0.6% of their dry-weight–is laid down each day. The remiges of the adult comprise only a seventh of the weight of the entire plumage, and it is suggested that their protracted moult results not so much from their energy requirements, as from the need to maintain efficient flight. Variation in the rate of moult in the remiges was much less pronounced than in the body feathers. Bullfinches were less active during moult than at other times of the year. The weights of both adults and juveniles increased during moult. The food during the moult period is described. In all years, most Bullfinches finished moulting just before food became scarce, even though this occurred at different times in different years. In one year, adults moulting latest in the season probably survived less well than those moulting earlier; the same was apparently true of the juveniles in all years. The timing of moult in the Bullfinch, and the factors initiating it, are discussed in relation to the breeding season and foodsupply near Oxford.
URL:http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1474-919X.1966.tb07251.x
Short Title:Ibis
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