Temporal stability of morphometric measurements is desirable when using avian morphology as a predictor of geographic origin. Therefore, to assess their temporal stability, we examined changes in morphology of Yellow-headed Blackbirds (Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus) from central North Dakota during summer. Measurements differed among age classes and between sexes. As expected, due to growth and maturation, measurements on hatching-year birds increased over summer. Measurements of adult plumage fluctuated with prebasic molt and exhibited age-specific discontinuities. Body mass of adult birds increased over summer, whereas both culmen length and skull length decreased. Only body length and length of internal skeletal elements were temporally stable in adult Yellow-headed Blackbirds.
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Morphometric changes in Yellow-headed Blackbirds during summer in central North Dakota