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The primary molt of waders on the atlantic coast of morocco

, : The primary molt of waders on the atlantic coast of morocco. Ibis 118(3): 347-365

Data from 3659 waders of 23 spp. live-trapped in 1971-1973 on the Atlantic coast of Morocco during the period of autumn molt and migration are analyzed to estimate duration and timing of primary molt. Common sandpiper [Tringa hypoleucos] was the only species to molt primaries in its 1st autumn (unless published aging criteria are incorrect). Several species showed a low incidence of arrested primary molt and a higher incidence was observed in ringed, Kentish and grey plovers [Charadrius hiaticula, C. alexandrinus and Pluvialis squatarola]. This is discussed in relation to breeding and migration. Similar rates of primary feather replacement relative to specific molt duration were observed in all species for which information was available. Comparisons between species and with published studies showed that variations in rate of molting between species and between different geographical populations of the same species were largely due to differences in feather growth rate rather than in the numbers of primaries concurrently in growth. Variations in rate between individuals of the same population were achieved, at least in the 1st part of molt, by differences in feather dropping rate resulting in differences in the numbers of primaries growing concurrently. The timing and duration of molt in different populations and differences between breeding and non-breeding components were closely related to the requirements of other annual cycle activities, notably breeding and migration. Non-breeding birds summering in Morocco had started molt early. Locally breeding birds had an early start to a fairly slow molt which overlapped with breeding and which in some cases passed through an arrested stage. Birds breeding in cold temperate and arctic regions and wintering in Morocco molted in a short time soon after arrival. In some cases, notably in ringed plovers, birds had commenced molting on the breeding grounds and arrested molt during migration. Most redshank and possibly dunlin migrated in active wing molt. The fastest primary molt was achieved by high arctic breeding birds, curlew sandpiper and possibly little stint, which stopped to molt in Morocco before moving on to wintering areas further south. This situation is contrasted with that of populations of these 2 and other species wintering in the S hemisphere where molt occurs over an extended period during the northern winter.

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