Monday, 10 September 2007

Wryneck: adult ID

The sexes are almost identical in plumage and visually rarely separable in the field. Adult males are warmer and richer in colour than females with more rufous and yellowish tones on the under-parts. The base colour of the crown, nape, hind-neck, most of the back, rump and tail is grey, flecked with fine darker specks. The feathers are often pale tipped but this is not really noticeable in the field. The crown is finely barred black and edged with dark brown. A brown line also runs down through the centre of the crown, to the nape, mantle and back. A broad dark brown eye-stripe continues across the ear-coverts and then curves down the sides of the neck. Below this crescent the cheeks are pale yellow-buff. A warm brown band on the mantle and bordering the scapulars is often distinct, as is a dark brown or blackish oval, sometimes diamond-shaped, patch on the upper-mantle. The scapulars have pale edges and dark centres. The grey of the neck continues down to form broad braces at the sides of the mantle, and there is some dark barring on lower back and rump. The tail is finely marked with barring and crossed with four blackish bands though the innermost band may be hidden by the upper-tail coverts. The throat and upper-breast are off-white or buff, occasionally tinged with yellow, and finely barred with brown. A variable pale, white malar stripe may be present. The breast and belly are paler than the upper-parts and dotted with dark streaks and chevrons or arrowheads. The flanks are rufous tinged and flecked with black. The under-tail coverts are creamy white and speckled with black chevrons. The wings are essentially brown with darker flight feathers dotted with reddish and buff spots. The bill is horn-coloured, the legs light brown and the iris chestnut or red. Adult female are all but identical to the male though usually less rufous and often more buff on throat, under-parts and flanks. Also slightly smaller than male but this is rarely noticeable even when pairs are seen together. The photo above is of an adult Wryneck at Landguard, England (Bill Baston).

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