in fine feather 

~ Fig. well dressed; of an excellent appearance. 

This page doesn't need too many words. Birds have have incredible colours and fascinating cryptic patterns. I have the wonderful opportunity to handle birds for ringing purposes. After many years it still strikes me how beautiful certain details are. I make 'functional' pictures that shows a bird's age or sex, but I also started photographing those details that, in my eyes, are simply stunning. This page has no other ambition than to share these. 

I hope you enjoy them as much as I do

The tubenose of a 2nd cy Northern Fulmar, 2016

Facial pattern and beak of an adult Northern Gannet, 2019

Breast feathers of a 1st cy male Sparrowhawk, 2016

Breast feathers of a 2st cy male Common Quail, 2017

Back of an adult male Baillon's Crake, 2019 (credits to Vrs Van Lennep, Bloemendaal for showing me this bird)

Flank feathers of an adult Spotted Crake, 2017 

Flank feathers of a 1st cy Corncrake, 2019 

Tail pattern of a 1st cy  Green Sandpiper, 2019

Back of a 1st cy Woodcock, 2015

Facial pattern of  an adult Herring Gull, 2015

Tail pattern of  a 1st cy Wryneck, 2018

Moulting crown feathers and iris of  a 1st cy Black Woodpecker, 2019

Back feathers of a 1st cy Kingfisher #1, 2015

Back feathers of a 1st cy Kingfisher #2, 2015

Back feathers of a 1st cy male Whinchat, 2018

Upperparts of a Jack Snipe, 2019

Male Mandarin Duck, 2020

Little Bunting
The most interesting thing about this chapter is the sexing of birds. This could be done on the basis of lateral crown stripe: a new feature for me. Because of overlap between adult females and young males, birds should first be aged. The authors emphasize that this is their vision, and not necessarily the final answer to this matter. I found one in the field in October (Figure 4-5) of which I took reasonable pictures. The very rounded tail feathers look adult, as do the tertials and large coverts. The lateral crown stripe appears to be jet black and is separated from other feathers, such as the greyer back of the head. The orange-red crown stripe really stands out. Conclusion: according to this book this must be an adult male! The deep brown-red cheek - a variable feature according to this book - also fits that. So it works then? Well… how useful this really is, remains the question: based on this book I would label two "females" in Shirihai & Svensson (p546 both top right and bottom right) as males! The caption of one of these even mentions "safely identified as a female" because it has a relatively dull plumage for an adult bird. But is also has a jet black, strongly separated lateral crown stripe! The bird at the bottom right even has a pretty deeply coloured cheek, which I would be happy to call a male. Is this due to different insights, and if so, who should I believe? Or am I not interpreting this correctly? In any case, it is fascinating!

© 2018 by Vincent van der Spek