<< Previous Next >>

Moulting Mallard

Moulting Mallard
Photo Information
Copyright: Mish PM (Finland_in_Eton) Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 154 W: 23 N: 225] (876)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2007-06-11
Categories: Birds
Camera: Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ50
Exposure: f/3.7, 1/500 seconds
More Photo Info: [view]
Photo Version: Original Version
Date Submitted: 2007-09-01 6:16
Viewed: 3549
Points: 8
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
Out fishing and this moulting Mallard plunked himself down next to me. I was using sweet corn for bait and he'd cleaned up the dropped pieces and then settled in to wait for more. He was partway between full breeding plumage (the colors we all know so well) and his eclipse plumage. While not the best photo in the world it does give a close-up look at the feather patterns and the changes taking place. I was also amused by the feather stuck on his bill.

Below are some interesting facts, from Wikipedia (where else?) about plumage.


Plumage refers both to the layer of feathers that cover a bird and the pattern, colour, and arrangement of those feathers. The pattern and colours of plumage vary between species and subspecies and can also vary between different age classes, sexes, and season. Within species there can also be a number of different colour morphs. Differences in plumage are used by ornithologists and birdwatchers in order to distinguish between species and collect other species specific information.

Basic and alternate plumage

Almost all species of birds moult at least annually, usually after the breeding season. This resulting covering of feathers, which will last either until the next breeding season or until the next annual moult, is known as the basic plumage. Many species undertake another moult prior to the breeding season known as the pre-alternate moult, the resulting breeding plumage being known as the alternate plumage. The alternate plumage is often brighter than the basic plumage, for the purposes of sexual display, but may also be cryptic in order to hide incubating birds that might be vulnerable on the nest.

Most nuptial male ducks have bright, colorful plumage, exhibiting strong sexual dimorphism to attract the females. However, they moult into a dull plumage in the non-breeding season. This drab female-like appearance is the eclipse plumage. When they shed feathers to go into eclipse, the ducks become flightless for a short period of time. Some duck species remain in eclipse for one to three months in the summer, while other would retain the cryptic plumage until the next spring when they undergo another moult to return to their fancy breeding garb.

Abnormal plumage

There are hereditary as well as non-hereditary variations in plumage that are rare and termed as abnormal plumages. These include excessive dark pigmentation or melanism, lack of pigmentation ranging from leucism to albinism, presence of excessive red or yellow pigmentation leading to, respectively, erythrism or xanthochroism. There can also be polymorphism in some birds particularly the owls and cuckoos where certain colour variations are more widespread and examples of these include the hepatic forms of cuckoos.

Such abnormalities can be present throughout the bird or restricted to specific feather tracts.

Jamesp, gannu, rcrick has marked this note useful
Only registered TrekNature members may rate photo notes.
Add Critique [Critiquing Guidelines] 
Only registered TrekNature members may write critiques.
You must be logged in to start a discussion.

Critiques [Translate]

Hello Mish
Its a lovely portrait with a huge amount of detail..I love how sharp the eye and beak are.
And most off all I love to see nature going through its cycles..Its great to see a feather perfect bird but I really love to see nature having a bad hair day!!
Great shot with superb colours and focus. and an exemplary note..Ive learnt something!!
TFS and Best Regards

  • Great 
  • Jamesp Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1369 W: 9 N: 6334] (18906)
  • [2007-09-01 14:11]

Hi Mish

Great close up - excellent detail in tne feathers. Good eye contact and colour.


  • Great 
  • gannu Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 988 W: 4 N: 3277] (14761)
  • [2007-09-02 3:03]

Mish, Very nice shot of this closeup mallard. The color and eye is standing out in the pictur.e Excellent closeup shot. Thanks for sharing friend. Ganesh

Hi Mish, Great capture I love the POV and the detail is stunning, very nice work Cheers Rick :)

Calibration Check