Volume 46, No. 2

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Age-related timing of primary moult in Shy Albatross Thalassarche [c.] cauta/steadi longline casualties from South Africa


1FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology, DST-NRF Centre of Excellence, University of Cape Town, Rondebosch 7701, South Africa *(


FLOOD, R.L. & RYAN, P.G. 2018. Age-related timing of primary moult in Shy Albatross Thalassarche [c.] cauta/steadi longline casualties from South Africa. Marine Ornithology 46: 197 - 202

Received 23 July 2018, accepted 07 August 2018

Date Published: 2018/10/15
Date Online: 2018/10/09
Key words: Shy Albatross, White-capped Albatross, primary moult in albatross


A provisional schedule is given for the age-related timing of primary moult in White-capped Albatross Thalassarche [c.] steadi based on an analysis of primary moult in 575 Shy Albatross T. [c.] cauta/steadi caught as bycatch on longlines off South Africa (mostly White-capped Albatross). Our analysis draws upon basic principles for age-related moult timing established in studies of other mollymawks. The principles involve combined assessment of an alternate-year primary moult schedule, maturation of plumage aspect, and maturation of bill colour and pattern. There is good evidence that adult/definitive prebasic moult of White-capped Albatross occurs mainly in August-October, which is between breeding seasons, and continues into the austral summer. After a successful breeding attempt, most White-capped Albatrosses skip the following breeding season and may be less constrained in the timing of moult relative to breeding. The third and fourth prebasic moults occur December-June, considerably earlier than the definitive prebasic moult; the fifth prebasic moult appears to occur April-September, closer in timing to the definitive prebasic moult. Observations from 10 Shy Albatross T. [c.] cauta provide some evidence that they moult slightly earlier than White-capped Albatross, which is consistent with their earlier breeding period.


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