Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Molt

It is that time of year when hummingbirds and other species are molting in anticipation of migration, a time when the condition of feathers is top priority. I see hummingbird feathers from time to time, sometimes floating on a zephyr like this one.

The molt is not the most photogenic time to be filming scruffy looking birds. A couple of old feathers are visible in this image looking like they will fall away soon.

This is actually the same female with many of her pin feathers now visible. Those little white tubes that look like feather shafts between her eyes and scattered over her forehead are the sheaths containing her new feathers. Eventually the feathers either emerge from the shaft on their own or the bird releases them through scratching or preening with her bill.

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