BIRDS OF COSTA RICA

PHOTO LIBRARY

White-shouldered Tanager / Tangara Caponiblanca (Tachyphonus luctuosus)

 

QUICK TIPS:

1) Consider overall plumage - males are entirely black except for a white shoulder patch, while females are green above and yellow below with a grayish head (note that females are similar to Gray-headed Tanager, but much smaller, and with the head contrasting less with the body).

2) Check the rectrices - narrow, pointed, and worn tail feathers are believed to be indicative of HY/SY, while older birds are expected to have broader and more rounded rectrices showing less wear.

3) Look for moult limits on the wing - on males, a distinct contrast between old (presumably juvenile) brownish feathers and fresh black feathers is likely indicative of HY/SY, while on older birds the feathers being replaced are likely a faded black, rather than brown.

Species account updated March 2009

Ageing and sexing overview:

Spring:

ASY - M
Body plumage and flight feathers all black, except for white shoulder patch
 
 

 

ASY - F
Body plumage green and yellow; flight feathers uniformly green
 
 
 
SY - M
Body plumage black except for white shoulder patch; flight feathers brownish or mixed black and brown
SY - F
Body plumage green and yellow; flight feathers somewhat brownish or mixed brownish and green
 
 
 

Ageing and sexing details:

SPRING:  ASY-M (after-second-year male)

 

 


 


 

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SPRING:  ASY-F (after-second-year female)

 

 


 


 

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SPRING:  SY-M (second-year male)

Males are black, with white shoulders and a small reddish cap that is often concealed from view.  Note that even on a perched bird, moult limits on the wing may be visible (e.g. the alula and primaries are noticeably paler than the black greater coverts).


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


The open wing shows more clearly the contrast between the fresh black adult feathers and the paler brown (presumably juvenile) feathers.  Note also the difference in shape between the new primaries that are broad and round, compared with the narrower and more pointed old primaries.


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


The weak structure of the rectrices and their poor condition is suggestive of juvenile feathers that are showing significant wear by spring.


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

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SPRING:  SY-F (second-year female)

 

 


 


 

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2002- The Migration Research Foundation Inc.