Blah to Bling: Juvenile to Adult in the Avian World

Immature male Red-legged Honeycreeper. Note insect nest in banana leaf.

Immature male Red-legged Honeycreeper. Note insect nest in banana leaf.

Immature male Red-legged Honeycreeper

Immature male Red-legged Honeycreeper. Finca Cantaros

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The challenges of birding are many, such as rising at the crack of dawn when birds are most active, and describing clearly where the bird is located so other birders can successfully observe it, too. (The latter talent, or lack of it, can seriously affect one’s popularity in the field). The chief challenge, of course, is arriving at the correct identity of the bird.

Identifying a bird is never a simple matter of memorizing an image from a book. Part of the joy of this increasingly popular activity is acknowledging the complications involved and finding satisfaction in the pursuit of the accurate ID. Why so complicated? Birds’ appearances vary greatly depending on the age and sex of the bird, and many birds have evolved so that the male and female of the same species are completely different.

In these photos you see the striking change between the indistinctly streaked, immature male Red-legged Honeycreeper above and its stunningly definitive adult blue plumage below. Those red legs really knock my socks off.

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Adult male Red-legged Honeycreeper. Finca Cantaros

Adult male Red-legged Honeycreeper

Adult male Red-legged Honeycreeper. Finca Cantaros

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According to A Guide to the Birds of Costa Rica by Stiles and Skutch, the full process of immature to mature plumage in the male of this species takes up to a year.

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