Pinpointing age, moult and sex in Victorian Game Waterfowl

Pinpointing age, moult and sex in Victorian Game Waterfowl

Concerning the field guide

This industry guide equips the waterfowl hunter with information to aid them in determining age, intercourse and stages that are moulting harvested game ducks. These records can offer understanding of a populace’s efficiency, present status and recruitment from period to season. All waterfowl hunters in Victoria needs to be competent in distinguishing various waterbird types. Nonetheless, this guide just isn’t designed to teach hunters on types recognition, but alternatively to illustrate ways of determining age, moult and sex.

Enhancing game management effort

In 2006, the Victorian Government launched the ‚Enhancing Game Management‘ effort. This effort is designed to better handle our duck, deer and quail types, their habitats, and include community teams in on-ground preservation works. This industry guide is an item associated with effort.

That is this guide for?

This industry guide provides hunters with a quick guide guide to key faculties in determining age, intercourse and moult of Victorian game waterfowl. Its compact and sturdy adequate to carry with you on the go. For convenience, nearly all info is pictorial, so observe tints and habits closely.

Why identify age, sex and moult

These areas of waterfowl biology offer critical home elevators the efficiency of populations, specially recruitment from period to period. Determining the timing of moult in game birds, provides important info on durations whenever harvesting should take place without impacting reproduction.

Hunter case surveys

Hunter case studies are undertaken by the Department of main Industries (DEPI) each duck period. These studies offer wildlife managers by having a snapshot of types, location, age & intercourse of waterfowl being harvested. These details, is very important whenever season that is determining and case limitations. Choices applying this information make sure our waterfowl resources and tradition that is hunting be sustained for generations to come to savor.


In determining age and intercourse of a bird, it’s important to realize the terminology utilized to explain the structure while the names of this groups that are feather the wing. Pages 14–29 of the guide describe the plumage faculties of every game species in determining sex and age. Utilize Figure 1 and 2 as a reference whenever pinpointing such faculties.

Figure 1 The physiology of the duck (instance: adult Pacific Black Duck).

Figure 2 Feathers of a duck wing (instance: adult Pacific Black Duck). (adapted from Marchant and Higgins 1990).

What’s moult and just why could it be crucial?

Moult could be the procedure of changing used feathers with brand brand new people, or changing these with more colourful feathers to ensure they are more desirable to prospective mates. Moulting happens as a result to a combination of regular hormonal alterations. During cold temperatures, ducks moult and replace their feathers in the exact same time. Ducks stay flightless during a percentage for this right time if they moult their wing feathers. It is vital to avoid hunting during this time period as ducks may be susceptible as his or her trip is reduced and overharvesting could happen. Figure 3 shows a simplistic breakdown of the stages inside a moult period. an understanding that is basic of moult period is beneficial in determining the chronilogical age of waterfowl.

What exactly is plumage?

Plumage describes colouration of the bird’s feathers. Various moults cave in to varying plumages. The initial moult a duck undergoes because it matures from a chick may be the very first pre-basic moult. The juvenile duck replaces its downy feathers with fully formed body feathers during this moult. The bird is categorized an immature bird upon conclusion of very first moult that is pre-basic. Its brand new feathers are drab in color and considered plumage that is basic. Into the springtime, simply once the reproduction period gets underway, a partial lack of feathers takes place whenever male ducks placed on their reproduction plumage. After breeding, the bird will go through a complete moult (wing and the body) and return returning to its non-breeding plumage that is basic. This is how wing moult is many obvious. (Note: only a few game types display traits for the complete moult period).

Figure 3 Moult Period (example: Australian Wood Duck).

Distinguishing moult in waterfowl

Once wild wild birds reach readiness (4-6 months) they’ve undergone one cycle that is complete of. Through the yearly moult, waterfowl have actually an entire and simultaneous moult of the wing feathers (called remige moult) which departs them flightless for just two to four weeks. This generally does occur after breeding, where in actuality the male reverts back again to fundamental plumage and undergoes wing moult that is complete. If reproduction does occur later into the period, wing moult may be nevertheless obvious in harvested waterfowl. Figure 4 defines the stages within remige moult and what things to look out for in pinpointing moult in harvested waterfowl.

  1. The primary flight feathers and most of the secondary feathers have been lost in the first stage of moult. Try to find numerous lack of journey feathers.
  2. More or less 5 times in to the remige moult, the flight feather guidelines emerge from their soft sheaths. Seek out the current presence of growing feathers (or ‚pin‘ feathers).
  3. Roughly a couple of weeks following the start of remige moult, the sheaths that are soft to make the shaft for the trip feathers. (in harvested birds, this phase is normally mistaken by the presence of shot harm).
  4. Complete remige moult. The shafts of this trip feathers are completely created as well as the bird has the capacity to fly.

Figure 4 Remige moult stages.

Pinpointing the chronilogical age of waterfowl

Waterfowl could be categorized into three age groups; juvenile, immature and adult. Juveniles is identified by the existence of the downy plumage. Immature wild birds (yearlings) tend to be more tough to recognize. Because they have actually undergone the very first pre-basic moult, immature wild wild birds can retain some juvenile downy feathers and additionally undertake adult plumage traits. Figure 5 shows generalised differences when considering adult and immature feathers which can be broadly put on waterfowl that is victorian.

Figure 5 Feather traits of immature and ducks that are asian wife photo adultinstance: Pacific Black Duck journey feathers).