Update: 9 March 2012 Thank you! The response to the head feather survey has been fantastic: 95 participants as of 10 AM on March 9th. The survey will be open for a while, and more responses are always better, so please spread the word. So far the preliminary results show that fairly experienced birders have been […]
Archives for March 2012
The feathers along the side of the lower jaw have a very confusing history of terminology. They’ve been called the malar stripe (in many early and mid 20th century bird books), the submoustachial1 stripe (in most bird guides published in the 1980s and later), and the malar again (in my Sibley Guide to Birds). Because […]
Regardless of what you call them – submoustachial, malar, jaw stripe, mandibular stripe – the feathers along the side of the lower jaw are important for identification. Being able to distinguish this group of feathers, and confidently describe their color, is one of the trickiest and most useful skills in understanding head feathers. Hopefully this […]
In recent posts and quizzes here I’ve been stressing the head feather groups, and how they provide a consistent structure for understanding the color patterns of birds. It is true that color patterns almost always follow the general arrangement of the feather groups, but there is a lot of variation in the details. The two […]
The feathers that grow on the sides of the head above the eyes of a bird are called the supercilium, and when they contrast in color with the adjacent feathers we call that an eyebrow stripe. There’s lots of variation in the shape of the eyebrow stripe, and in some closely-related species this can be […]
Here are four more birds with questions about their head feathers. With thanks, again, to Brian E. Small for providing the beautiful photos. You can see lots more at his website, and clicking any photo links there as well.