Determining age, moult and sex in Victorian Game Waterfowl

Determining age, moult and sex in Victorian Game Waterfowl

In regards to the industry guide

This industry guide equips the waterfowl hunter with information to aid them in pinpointing age, intercourse and moulting stages in harvested game ducks. These details can offer understanding of a populace’s efficiency, present status and recruitment from period to period. All waterfowl hunters in Victoria should be competent in pinpointing various waterbird types. But, this guide is certainly not designed to teach hunters on species recognition, but instead to illustrate ways of determining age, intercourse and moult.

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 species that are quail their habitats, and include community teams in on-ground conservation works. This field guide is an item of this effort.

That is this guide for?

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

Why identify age, moult and sex

These facets of waterfowl biology provide critical home elevators the efficiency of populations, specially recruitment from period to period. Distinguishing the timing of moult in game wild birds, provides information that is important durations whenever harvesting should happen without impacting reproduction.

Hunter case studies

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


In determining age and intercourse of the bird, it is critical to comprehend the terminology utilized to explain the physiology and also the names associated with the groups that are feather the wing. Pages 14–29 with this guide describe the plumage faculties of each and every game types in determining sex and age. Utilize Figure 1 and 2 as a guide whenever determining such characteristics.

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

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

What exactly is moult and just why could it be essential?

Moult is the method of changing worn feathers with brand brand new people, or changing these with more colourful feathers to make them more appealing to prospective mates. Moulting happens in reaction to an assortment of regular changes that are hormonal. During wintertime, ducks moult and change their feathers during the time that is same. Ducks stay flightless during a percentage of the right russian brides us time if they moult their wing feathers. It is critical to avoid searching during this time period as ducks will undoubtedly be susceptible as their journey is reduced and overharvesting could happen. Figure 3 shows an overview that is simplistic of 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 very first moult a duck undergoes since it matures from the chick may be the very first moult that is pre-basic. 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 pre-basic moult. Its new feathers are drab in color and considered fundamental plumage. Into the spring that is early simply while the reproduction period gets underway, a partial loss in feathers takes place when male ducks wear their reproduction plumage. After breeding, the bird will go through the full moult (wing and human body) and return back into its non-breeding plumage that is basic. That is whenever wing moult is many obvious. (Note: only a few game types display faculties for the complete moult period).

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

Distinguishing moult in waterfowl

When birds reach readiness (4-6 months) they usually have withstood one complete cycle of moult. Throughout the yearly moult, waterfowl have actually a total and simultaneous moult of the wing feathers (known as remige moult) which renders them flightless for just two to four weeks. This generally happens after breeding, where in fact the male reverts back into fundamental plumage and undergoes wing moult that is complete. If reproduction happens later within the period, wing moult may be nevertheless obvious in harvested waterfowl. Figure 4 describes the stages within remige moult and things to look out for in determining moult in harvested waterfowl.

  1. In the 1st phase of moult the main journey feathers and a lot of regarding the additional feathers have already been lost. Search for numerous loss in journey feathers.
  2. Roughly 5 times in to the remige moult, the trip feather guidelines emerge from their sheaths that are soft. Try to find the existence of growing feathers (or ‘pin’ feathers).
  3. More or less a couple of weeks following the onset of remige moult, the sheaths that are soft to create the shaft of this journey feathers. (in harvested birds, this phase is usually mistaken by the current presence of shot harm).
  4. Complete remige moult. The shafts of this journey feathers are completely created together with bird has the capacity to travel.

Figure 4 Remige moult stages.

Distinguishing the chronilogical age of waterfowl

Waterfowl could be categorized into three age groups; juvenile, immature and adult. Juveniles may be identified because of the existence of the plumage that is downy. Immature wild wild birds (yearlings) tend to be more tough to determine. 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 faculties. Figure 5 shows generalised differences when considering adult and immature feathers which can be broadly placed on waterfowl that is victorian.

Figure 5 Feather traits of immature and adult ducks (instance: Pacific Black Duck journey feathers).