BIRDS OF COSTA RICA

PHOTO LIBRARY

Red-legged Honeycreeper / Mielero Patirrojo (Cyanerpes cyaneus)

 

QUICK TIPS:

1) Consider overall plumage - adult males have a bold blue and black pattern of body plumage, while females and juveniles are greenish-gray with a moderately streaked breast.

2) Check the primary coverts - if moult patterns in this species are similar to those of the Green Honeycreeper, it may be possible to separate HY/SY birds with a moult limit between pale, relatively narrow primary coverts and adjacent replaced greater coverts, while on AHY/ASY birds the wing feathers are expected to be of uniform age and quality, with broad and dark primary coverts; this requires further study.

Species account updated March 2009

Ageing and sexing overview:

Spring:

ASY - M
Bold blue and black plumage, with bright red legs and large yellow patches on the wing

AHY - F
Greenish-gray, with moderate streaking on the breast

Ageing and sexing details:

SPRING:  AHY-M (after-hatch-year male)

A male Red-legged Honeycreeper, showing the bold pattern of blue and black plumage, and the bright red legs after which this species is named.


Photo by Marcel Gahbauer, Las Caletas (CR), April 2008


The extensive yellow patches on the wing are unique to males, and visible only when the wing is open.  In this example, all the flight feathers look dark and fresh, suggesting that it is likely an ASY male, but if this species undergoes a complete preformative moult (unknown), SY male is also possible.


Photo by Marcel Gahbauer, Las Caletas (CR), April 2008


In this view, the shape of the tail feathers on this male is difficult to discern, but they were observed to be similar to those of the female below.


Photo by Marcel Gahbauer, Las Caletas (CR), April 2008

RETURN TO AGE/SEX OVERVIEW

SPRING:  AHY-F (after-hatch-year female)

Female Red-legged Honeycreepers have a very different appearance from males, generally grayish-green, and with some streaking on a relatively pale breast.


Photo by Marcel Gahbauer, Las Caletas (CR), April 2008


The wing may be useful in separating SY from ASY Red-legged Honeycreepers.  It appears in this case that the inner greater coverts have been replaced, contrasting with the outer coverts, that have a small white tip, as do some of the primary coverts and the alula covert.  It may be that these are traits typical of juvenile feathers, indicating that this is a SY female, but more study is needed.


Photo by Marcel Gahbauer, Las Caletas (CR), April 2008


The rectrices of this individual appear relatively broad, which in many species would suggest an ASY bird, but there also appear to be uniform growth bars across at least the outer three rectrices, which is more typical of juvenile feathers grown in the nest, suggesting the age may be SY; not enough is known about the plumage and moult patterns of this species to know which interpretation is more likely to be correct.


Photo by Marcel Gahbauer, Las Caletas (CR), April 2008

RETURN TO AGE/SEX OVERVIEW

 

2002- The Migration Research Foundation Inc.