McGILL BIRD OBSERVATORY

PHOTO LIBRARY

Mourning Warbler / Paruline triste (Oporornis philadelphia)

 NOTE: This species account has been moved to Piranga to allow for improved comparison among examples. 
     The updated profile is located at:  http://www.natureinstruct.org/piranga/view.php/Canada/1A0096F2F929CEA2

 
QUICK TIPS:

1) Check for an eye ring - AHY/ASY males, SY males in spring, and some AHY/ASY females lack an eye ring, other AHY/ASY females and SY females in spring have a grayish-white eye ring, and HY birds of both sexes have a yellowish-white eye ring

2) Look at the throat and upper breast - it is gray with little to extensive black on AHY/ASY males and SY males (black more extensive on ASY than SY), gray with the throat particularly pale or even white on AHY/ASY females, yellowish-gray on HY birds of both sexes, and largely buffy yellow on SY females

3) Consider the tail - on HY/SY birds the rectrices are typically relatively narrow and pointed, while on AHY/ASY birds they tend to be broader and more rounded

Note that moult limits may be present on the wing of HY/SY Mourning Warblers, following patterns similar to those of other warblers, but they are difficult to spot reliably, and therefore a poor tool for ageing.

Species account updated May 2009

Ageing and sexing guidelines:

January - July:

ASY - M
Lores and extensive throat patch black; eye ring absent; dark gray head and throat; rectrices relatively broad and rounded

ASY - F
Gray lores and throat; eye ring whitish incomplete or absent; gray head and throat; rectrices relatively broad and rounded
     
SY - M
Lores and moderate throat patch black; eye ring absent; gray head and throat; rectrices relatively narrow and pointed
SY - F
Gray lores and throat; incomplete whitish eye ring; pale gray to gray head and throat; rectrices relatively narrow and pointed

-

July - December:

AHY - M
Lores dark gray to blackish; eye ring absent; dark gray head and throat; some distinct black patches separating throat from yellow breast; rectrices relatively broad and rounded
AHY - F
Incomplete whitish eye ring; head pale gray; throat white to pale gray, gradually fading into yellow breast; rectrices relatively broad and rounded
HY - M
Head and throat olive-gray, with at least a bit of black mottling on the upper breast; incomplete yellowish-white eye ring; rectrices relatively narrow and pointed
HY - F/U
Head and throat olive-gray to yellowish-gray (especially on throat); no black at all on breast; incomplete yellowish-white eye ring; rectrices relatively narrow and pointed
 

Ageing and sexing details:

JAN - JUL:  after-second-year male

Male Mourning Warblers can be easily recognized in spring by their black lores and black throat patches, though note that these may be visible only from the front (the two photos below are of the same bird).  Age is usually difficult to determine without looking more closely at the plumage, especially the tail.


Photo by Marie-Anne Hudson, McGill Bird Observatory (QC), May 2007


Photo by Marie-Anne Hudson, McGill Bird Observatory (QC), May 2007
 


After-second-year Mourning Warblers have uniform wings, but beware that even second-year birds may show only very subtle moult limits.


Photo by Marie-Anne Hudson, McGill Bird Observatory (QC),May 2007


The tail is one of the best ageing criteria for Mourning Warblers, with after-second-year bird typically having broad rectrices with relatively rounded tips, as in the photo below.


Photo by Marie-Anne Hudson, McGill Bird Observatory (QC), May 2007

RETURN TO AGE/SEX OVERVIEW

JAN - JUL:  after-second-year female

 



 




 



RETURN TO AGE/SEX OVERVIEW

JAN - JUL:  second-year male

Male Mourning Warblers can be easily recognized in spring by their black lores and black throat patches. The throat patches tend to be somewhat less extensive on second-year males compared to after-second-year males, but age should not be based on this alone, especially as the size of the throat patch may appear very different depending on the angle from which it is viewed.


Photo by Barbara Frei, McGill Bird Observatory (QC), May 2007


Photo by Marie-Anne Hudson, McGill Bird Observatory (QC), May 2008


Photo by Marie-Anne Hudson, McGill Bird Observatory (QC), May 2008


Second-year Mourning Warblers may show subtle moult limits on the wing, such as the contrast between the duller primary coverts and distinctly green-edged greater coverts in the first photo below, but note that this is not always clearly evident, as in the second photo.


 Photo by Barbara Frei, McGill Bird Observatory (QC), May 2007


Photo by Marie-Anne Hudson, McGill Bird Observatory (QC), May 2008


The rectrices of second-year Mourning Warblers typicaly are relatively narrow and pointed.


Photo by Barbara Frei, McGill Bird Observatory (QC), May 2007


Photo by Marie-Anne Hudson, McGill Bird Observatory (QC), May 2008

RETURN TO AGE/SEX OVERVIEW

JAN - JUL:  second-year female

Females have partial white eye rings and lack black in the throat and usually have a limited extent of white or gray on the throat and upper breast; age is best determined by looking more closely at the plumage, especially the tail.


Photo by Barbara Frei, McGill Bird Observatory (QC), May 2007


Photo by Marie-Anne Hudson, McGill Bird Observatory (QC), May 2008


Second-year Mourning Warblers may show moult limits, usually between the greater coverts and primary coverts, but these are often subtle.


Photo by Barbara Frei, McGill Bird Observatory (QC), May 2007


Photo by Marie-Anne Hudson, McGill Bird Observatory (QC), May 2008


Photo by Peter Pyle, MerryLea (IN), May 2007  


Rectrices on second-year Mourning Warblers are typically narrow and pointed; in the example below, this is exemplified best by the central feathers.


Photo by Barbara Frei, McGill Bird Observatory (QC), May 2007

RETURN TO AGE/SEX OVERVIEW

JUL - DEC:  after-hatch-year male

After-hatch-year males are easily recognizable in fall, as they are the only age-sex class with black lores.  They also lack eye rings and have at least some black on the lower throat / upper breast, though this may be visible only from the front (e.g. the two photos below are of the same bird).


Photo by Marie-Anne Hudson, McGill Bird Observatory (QC), August 2007


Photo by Marie-Anne Hudson, McGill Bird Observatory (QC), August 2007
 


The wing of after-hatch-year Mourning Warblers is relatively uniform in colour and wear, but the moult limits on hatch-year individuals tend to be subtle, therefore the wing is of limited value for ageing.


Photo by Marie-Anne Hudson, McGill Bird Observatory (QC), August 2007
 


Rectrices are broad and often relatively rounded at the tip.


Photo by Marie-Anne Hudson, McGill Bird Observatory (QC), August 2007

RETURN TO AGE/SEX OVERVIEW

JUL - DEC:  after-hatch-year female

After-hatch-year females are easily recognizable when they have a distinctly white throat as in the photo below, but in cases where the head and throat are gray, they are at greater risk of being confused with hatch-year individuals.  However, the contrast between the head and back is usually much more distinct on after-hatch-year birds.


Photo by Marcel Gahbauer, McGill Bird Observatory (QC), September 2005
 


After-hatch-year Mourning Warblers have wings uniform in colour and wear, but beware that even on hatch-year individuals, moult limits may be subtle and difficult to detect.


Photo by Marcel Gahbauer, McGill Bird Observatory (QC), September 2005
 


Rectrices are relatively broad and often rounded toward the tip; in this example the moult is in progress.


Photo by Marcel Gahbauer, McGill Bird Observatory (QC), September 2005

RETURN TO AGE/SEX OVERVIEW

 

JUL - DEC:  hatch-year male

Hatch-year Mourning Warblers have an olive-gray head that is relatively uniform with the back.  There is usually a partial yellowish-white eye ring.  The presence of scattered black flecks on the lower throat / upper breast is indicative of a male, but note that some males may not show any black in fall, in which case they should generally be classified as sex unknown.


Photo by Marcel Gahbauer, September 2005


Photo by Marie-Anne Hudson, McGill Bird Observatory (QC), August 2007


 
Photo by Barbara Frei, McGill Bird Observatory (QC), August 2008


Hatch-year Mourning Warblers typically have a moult limit between juvenile primary coverts and replaced greater coverts, but the difference in appearance tends to be subtle, and it is difficult to use this criteroin as a reliable basis for ageing.


Photo by Marie-Anne Hudson, McGill Bird Observatory (QC), August 2007
 


Hatch-year Mourning Warblers tend to have relatively narrow and distinctly pointed rectrices


Photo by Marcel Gahbauer, McGill Bird Observatory (QC), September 2005


Photo by Marcel Gahbauer, McGill Bird Observatory (QC), August 2008

RETURN TO AGE/SEX OVERVIEW

JUL - DEC:  hatch-year female/unknown

Hatch-year females have an olive-gray head showing little contrast with the back, but tend to have a more yellow throat than males, and lack any black in the throat.  Some males lacking black may have a similar appearance, therefore hatch-year birds with such an appearance should generally be considered sex unknown, rather than necessarily female.


Photo by Marie-Anne Hudson, McGill Bird Observatory (QC), August 2007


Photo by Marcel Gahbauer, McGill Bird Observatory (QC), September 2005
 


Hatch-year Mourning Warblers typically have a moult limit between juvenile primary coverts and replaced greater coverts, but the difference in appearance tends to be subtle, and it is difficult to use this criteroin as a reliable basis for ageing.


Photo by Marcel Gahbauer, McGill Bird Observatory, August 2007


Photo by Marie-Anne Hudson, McGill Bird Observatory, August 2007


 
Photo by Barbara Frei, McGill Bird Observatory (QC), August 2007


Hatch-year Mourning Warblers have relatively narrow and pointed rectrices, but note that differences in shape and wear are not yet as distinct as they tend to be by spring, therefore overall body plumage is often the best indicator of age and sex in fall.


Photo by Marie-Anne Hudson, McGill Bird Observatory (QC), August 2007


Photo by Barbara Frei, McGill Bird Observatory (QC), August 2008

RETURN TO AGE/SEX OVERVIEW 

2002- The Migration Research Foundation Inc.