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Delayed maturation of plumage coloration and plumage spottiness in the barn owl Tyto alba
Journal für Ornithologie
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The Barn Owl (Tyto alba) varies in plumage from dark reddish-brown to white, and from heavily marked with black spots to immaculate. Males are commonly lighter coloured and less spotted than females. I assessed whether male and female Barn Owls delay the full expression of plumage coloration and spottedness to the second year of life. In Switzerland, I quantified the two traits of birds captured at the nestling stage, first, second and third year of life. Males and females became lighter coloured only from the first to the second year. Males became less spotted only from the first to the second year, and females less spotted from the nestling stage to the first year but more spotted from the first to the second year. Females were also similarly spotted at the second and third year of age. By cutting off small pieces of feathers of females I could recognize which feathers had later been renewed. After a complete moult old females did not change in plumage characteristics.
moult, plumage polymorphism, sexual dimorphism
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