Anas platyrhynchos - autumn males

Mallard / Gräsand


Most 1cy are recognized by the presence of juvenile RR and/or tertials. Beware of late broods that may stay unusually fresh into mid-autumn. Juveniles start to moult TT and RR from October onwards, after which ageing gets more complicated and other characters need to be examined more closely. All features are subject to individual variation, so ageing should always be based on a summary of characters.

  • The tail usually contains at least a few juvenile RR that are noticeably narrow, worn, frayed and faded (being of poorer quality compared to adult RR). Juvenile RR usually have a notched tip and brownish internal patterns (similar to females).
  • Juvenile tertials are narrower, more worn and have a more brownish ground colour than adult ones.
  • The tail consists of adult RR only; pale, broad and of better quality. Internal patterns are largely unbroken pale to dark grey.
  • Tertials are broad, fresh and has a silvery-grey ground colour.
1cy male, September. Typical juvenile tail with RR that are narrow, worn, notched at the tip, and mainly brownish in colour with buffish edging. All except central 2-3 pairs show broken internal pattern. [90A92149]
1cy male, November. The whole tail is post-juvenile, so this individual is, therefore, identical to an adult male by this character. Note broader shape, better quality, lack of notching and heavy abrasion, and no brown colouration. [90A88777]
1cy male, November. Easily recognized as a young bird due to remaining juvenile RR being narrower (and shorter), worn, frayed, and with brown and buff colours. The outermost pair of feathers is often the last to be moulted, but sometimes the central pair is still retained when all the others are post-juvenile. [90A88694]
1cy male, October. Sometimes the juvenile feathers are less worn and less notched and have less brown/buff colouration, thus being less distinctive. However, at close examination, juvenile RR are still narrower and more worn, and show a broken internal pattern with brown/buffish tinge. [90A88623]
2cy+ male, October. Nice adult tail showing 8 pairs of mainly greyish-white RR. All feathers are of adult shape, quality and colouration, being broad, fresh, and greyish-white with weak, grey, largely unbroken internal patterns. [90A87325]
2cy+ male, October. Some adult males show more distinctly dark internal patterns on central pairs of rectrices. Dark markings on outer RR are sometimes grizzled. [90A85663]
2cy+ male, September. Slightly odd looking tail (in moult, with at least 4 missing RR). Internal patterns are extensive and rather brownish, but show no broken patterns typical of juveniles. [90A86092]
2cy+ male, October. This is the same individual as right above, but one year before (still adult though, 3cy to be exact). When worn, wet and dirty, such a tail may recall a juvenile bird being buffish and with broken internal patterns. Adult RR are still broader and of better quality. [90A85663]
1cy male, September. Juvenile tertials are narrower compared to post-juvenile TT and often abraded. Further, they have a more uniform brownish ground colour, lacking the obvious silvery-grey hue of adults. The pale tips and edges may disappear with wear. Juvenile tertial coverts are narrower, more pointed, browner, and usually more frayed compared to adults. TC may be edged buff (as in this individual) and some may even show a blackish subterminal band inside. [90A92149]
1cy male, November. This bird has acquired adult TT and TC (all tertials may be moulted in October already). However, the inner TC are retained juvenile feathers being worn and uniformly brownish. The innermost TC (large, covering T4) has a buffish tip more common in juveniles. [90A88777]
1cy male, November. A juvenile bird in extremely fresh plumage for the season, also presenting broad and rather greyish tertials reminiscent of an adult (compare dull adult 90A88375 further down). TC are more typically coloured for a juvenile (but, as TT, unusually fresh). [90A88747]
1cy male, November. This bird has moulted T2 to T4, but still has juvenile T1. The four outer TC are worn and dull brownish, but note that even juvenile two outermost TC occasionally show warm brown tips. [90A88713]
1cy male, October. Some TT and TC are usually left unmoulted until late autumn. In this bird, a post-juvenile tertial (T4) is growing and the one beyond (T3) is also moulted, while T1 and T2 are retained juvenile feathers. The TC covering T1 and T2 have been moulted. Adult TC are colder grey with a broad (but varying) warm brown tip, thus standing out against surrounding juvenile coverts. [90A88616]
2cy+ male, October. This bird has the longest TC (covering T4) unmoulted (being browner, slightly frayed and with a pale tip), but the shape and wear reveals it as an adult feather (compare pointed and darker corresponding feather in 90A88616 to the left). The rest of TC are also slightly worn, but still rather cold grey, and the outer show warm brown colouration different from juvenile TC. Note "flag-shape" and grey colouration of adult TT. [90A85878]
2cy+ male, September. This individual has a very drab and brownish T1 retained from previous moult (a growing tertial is barely visible beyond the TC and beside the longest PH). Although fairly drab for an adult, TC are broad and greyish basally and have chestnut wash towards the tip. [90A88375]
2cy+ male, October. Adult tertials have a silvery-grey ground colour, fading towards blackish on inner web of T3 and T4, and towards warm brown and blackish on outer web of T1 and T2. (The T4 is actually missing here, as the browner feather looking to be T4 is actually the longest TC retained from previous moult.) Adult tertials are broader and generally show less signs of wear compared to juvenile TT.  Adult TC are broad and grey, outer ones usually broadly tipped chestnut (although not in this individual). [90A71308]
2cy+ male, September. An individual with a retained, untypically worn and narrow tertial (T2). TC are also worn, frayed and retained from previous moult. TC are dull brown, outer ones just slightly warmer than inner ones, hence similar to juvenile TC. [90A88111]
2cy+ male, October. This adult show typical tertials in both shape and colouration, but has (retained and) drab tertial coverts. [90A85663]
1cy male, September. A quite typical wing of a juvenile male. Lesser and median coverts, as well as primary coverts and primaries, are dull brownish. The latter show heavy signs of wear. Buffish tips to MC and LC do not occur in adults. [90A88312]
1cy male, October. This juvenile has a rather grey wing, and PC are fairly rounded and could thus be mistaken for being adult. However, the grey is confined to the outer vane (more evenly grey in typical adults). Note the decreasing amount of black, especially on inner vane, on tips of GC, of which the outer two lack black altogether. Brown and narrow tertials are clearly juvenile. [90A88384]
2cy+ male, October. A typical and easily identified adult, showing a grey cast to the whole wing. Note broad, rounded, quite uniformly silvery-grey PC, as well as broad and blunt-tipped GC with full black tips reaching the second outermost feather. [90A87325]
2cy+ male, October. A dull adult wing, primary coverts being narrow and brownish with grey outer vane more typical of a 1cy bird. Note the broad and silvery-grey tertials and black on both vanes of GC2. [90A85296]
1cy male, October. Juvenile MC and LC are dull brown and often give an unstructured appearance. GC and MC are slightly narrower and more pointed, not widening as much towards the base as in adults. The black GC band gets much reduced in the outer part of the arm and is often not present at all in GC1-3, or present on the outer vane of the feather only. [90A88425]
1cy male, October. This individual has a greyer wing than most young males, but lacks the silvery shine and chestnut wash that is prominent in many adults. Close examination reveals pale tips to some MC and LC, which is never seen in adults. GC are quite typical of juveniles with faded borders between white and grey, irregular black tips, no black at all in the outer two GC, and only on outer vane on GC3. [90A88643]
1cy male, November. Narrow GC with very little or no black on GC1-6. This individual is an extreme and would be more average if GC1-3 were removed. The white band is diffusely demarcated. MC and LC are greyer than on most other juveniles and the warmer brown tips are therefore more obvious, but quality and narrowness is typically juvenile. [90A88795]
1cy male, November. This individual could possibly have passed as an adult, having a neat white band and a black band reaching GC2. Also, MC (and LC) are quite greyish, but not as broad, grey and chestnut as in typical adults. [90A88713]
2cy+ male, October. MC and LC are greyish-brown with a silvery hue, and often give a robust and organized impression. MC and GC are broad with a somewhat blunter tip than in juveniles. The black on both vanes generally reaches further out (usually to GC2) in adults. The white band often appears neater due to sharply demarcated borders to grey base and black tip of GC. [90A87325]
2cy+ male, October. An unusually brown individual, but note that the brown colour is leaning much more to chestnut compared to juveniles. GC are decently black-tipped to GC2 and there is even a small black tip on GC1. The white band is distinct throughout. [90A85530]
2cy+ male, December. Adult GC are tipped distinctly black (on both vanes) further out than on juvenile GC, in this typical case to GC2 (even GC1 has black tip which is unusual). The black-and-white generally forms a fairly neat line (although slightly irregular in this individual) and adults usually show more sharply demarcated borders to grey base compared to juveniles. Note chestnut-brown LC and MC and also that outer MC are nicely rounded and widely broadening towards the base. [90A73502]
2cy+ male, November. The amount of black in the GC tips varies between individuals. This adult has a very thin black line, no black on GC1-2 and very little on GC3-4. Black markings are quite irregular but distinct. The white wing bar appears neat due to even and clear border against solid grey bases of GC. [90A87832]
1cy male, November. Juvenile post-humerals and longest scapulars are narrow, pointed, worn and brownish. It does not get any more obvious than in this individual. [90A88825]
1cy male, November. These are also retained juvenile PH, so there is obviously a large variation in shape. Although fairly broad and rounded, they are clearly worn and quite brownish. [90A88794]
1cy male, November. This bird has moulted its PH and scapulars, and can thus not be correctly identified to age by this character. Note similar shape and colour, but better quality, in comparison with the juvenile PH of 90A88794 above to the right. [90A88713]
1cy male, November. This bird has also replaced its post-humerals and scapulars. PH are slightly greyer and more narrow/pointed compared to 90A88713 to the left. [90A88777]
2cy+ male, October. Typically adult post-humerals, being quite broad and fresh, rounded and greyish. The scapulars are also typically adult silvery-grey (some fading into warm dark-brown on the outer web) with dark vermiculations. [90A87325]
2cy+ male, October. This adult male has extremely juvenile-like PH, being narrow, worn and brownish. The second-longest scapular (next to the PH) is retained from a previous moult and, hence, also juvenile-looking, whereas the longest scapular is nicely adult silvery-grey with dark vermiculations (fading into warm dark-brown on the inner web). [90A73565]
2cy+ male, October. This adult male has brownish and clearly worn PH. Note that this bird, as 90A73565 above to the right, has a retained second-longest scapular (next to the PH), whereas rest of scapulars are freshly moulted. [90A88528]
2cy+ male, September. PH are slightly fresher, but similar in shape and colour to 90A88528 to the left. Interesting with this bird is that scapular area has quite many female-like post-breeding eclipse feathers. This bird is still easily identified as a male on vermiculated (smaller) scapulars. [90A88375]
1cy male, November. Large parts of the head may still be juvenile as late as November. Note the greenish hue to the dull yellow bill and blackish markings on the ridge. [90A88747]
1cy male, October. Some young males look rather adult-like but usually show some juvenile feathers on the head. This individual also has a yellowish bill that almost lacks dark markings, thus making it difficult to separate from an adult (but note more greenish colouration close to the tip). [90A88616]
2cy+ male, September. The head of this bird is dominated by feathers attained in the post-breeding moult, but green areas reveal that the pre-breeding moult is ongoing. Note the clean yellowish-green bill without dark markings (except for the blackish nail at the tip). [90A88111]
2cy+ male, October. Adult birds show on average a brighter yellow bill than juveniles. Dark patterns on the bill are rarely present. [90A86429]
1cy male, October. The colour of the feet is subject to variation and should only be used as a supplementary character. In general, 1cy birds show a paler orange colour. [90A88520]
1cy male, November. Some young males have stronger orange feet, which are inseparable from adult males. [90A88742]
2cy+ male, September. A rather pale foot for an adult, but still quite rich in colour. [90A85727]
2cy+ male, October. Most adult males show a deep orange colour of the feet. [90A85520]
More Anas platyrhyncos:
Ageing autumn females
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