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Monday, March 16, 2015

Just starting

Surfbird (Aphriza virgata), Bodega Bay, 16 March 2015

I wrote about molting Surfbirds a couple of years ago, but I can't help posting another picture tonight.  I missed seeing Surfbirds this winter there didn't seem to be many around on Bodega Head for some reason.

I encountered a flock near Pinnacle Gulch today and it felt good to see them.  I zoomed in on this one.  If you look closely, you can see a few new feathers just starting to come in.  [Click on the picture for a larger version.]  Most of the older feathers are brown and worn, with tattered edges.  The new feathers have dark gray centers and clean edges.  You can review the post from 25 March 2013 for other examples.

It was interesting to compare the molt timing in these two years.  It seemed like the birds in 2013 were farther along, and the date of those pictures is only about one week away this year.  I'm not sure what drives the start of their molt in this area do you know?


Sherry Clark said...

Thank you for the clarification. I've been wondering why some appear dark, almost reddish brown and others are light. I'll get more pics now that you've shared they will be leaving soon.

John W. Wall said...

Now that you mention it, I haven't seen surfbirds at Drake's Beach this year. Their usual companions, black turnstones, have been plentiful though.