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Primary molt of California condors

Condor

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Abstract

Primary molt of the California Condor (Gymnogyps californianus) was studied intensively from 1982 through 1985, using repeated flight photographs of the remaining individuals in the wild population as a basis for most analyses. On the average, wild condors replaced 4.4 of the 8 emarginated primaries on each wing each year. The sepcific primaries molted were generally the ones missed in the previous year and were usually well-distributed among the eight possibilities, with a tendency for low-numbered primaries to molt earlier than high-numbered primaries. Within individuals, molt of one wing was commonly very different from that of the other wing. Primarily molt of captive juveniles was similar to that of wild juveniles. The interval from loss to full replacement of individual primary feathers was normally 3 1/2 to 4 months, with the primaries closest to the leading edge of the wing growing most slowly. Most primarities were shed between 1 February and 1 September. Primaries lost in late fall and early winter were not replaced until the following summer, indicating interrupted molt over the winter. In general, primary molt of the condor differs from that of smaller cathartids in being highly seasonal, highly variable in sequence, highly asymmetric between wings, and in following a roughly 2-year cycle. Molt of the condor shows many similarities to that of the White Stork (Ciconia ciconia) and to that of large accipitrid vultures.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
Primary molt of California condors
Series title:
Condor
Volume
89
Issue:
3
Year Published:
1987
Language:
English
Contributing office(s):
Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
Description:
468-485
Larger Work Type:
Article
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
Larger Work Title:
Condor
First page:
468
Last page:
485
Number of Pages:
18