The wing flight-feathers show various moult progress. Primaries show freshly moulted P1-5 and growing P6, while P7-10 are juvenile type. The juvenile outer fingers show a sharp contrast between dark fingers and white basis of the feather, which is a good tip to separate juveniles from tricky juvenile-like females. The pattern of newly moulted primaries suggest that the bird is a female. These feathers show a dark trailing edge combined with 3 rather broad bars spread across the feather, the outermost bar being close to the dark tip of the feather.
Secondaries are mostly of juvenile type, except the outermost of the right wing and the 2 outermost of the left wing which are freshly moulted. The juvenile type secondaries are typical of young Honey Buzzards, showing a bulging shape, being dark and showing 3 evenly spaced broad bars, lacking the dark trailing edge that most adults show.
The tail shape is also rather unique, with fresh inner and outer tail-feathers contrasting with pale brown juvenile feathers which are shorter because of abrasion. The new tail-feathers pattern is also in favour of a female bird, with a dark tip less solid than in males combined to 2 brown bars.
The head and upper breast are moulted, contrasting with the light brown belly and underwing coverts where few feathers are fresh, giving a mottled aspect to the bird. The iris was a dull yellowish-ochre and not as clean and bright as an adult and the bill was generally dull grey apart from a hint of pale yellowish at the base.
Let’s hope this record will bring some more attention on immature plumages of Honey Buzzards!
For more information check:
- Corso, A, Pannucio, M & N. Agostini. 2012. The status of second-calendar-year Honey-Buzzards in Europe. British Birds 105(8): 484-486.
- Forsman, D. 2016. Flight Identification of Raptors of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. Bloomsbury.