Short-term oscillations in avian molt intensity: evidence from the golden eagle Aquila chrysaetos

David H. Ellis, James W. Lish, Marc Kery, Stephen Redpath

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From a year-long study of molt in the golden eagle Aquila chrysaetos, we recorded 2069 contour feathers replaced in 137 d (6 May-19 September). Very few contour feathers were lost outside this period. From precise daily counts of feathers lost, and using time series analysis, we identified short-term fluctuations (i.e., 19-d subcycles) around a midsummer peak (i.e., a left-skewed normal distribution). Because these subcycles have never before been reported and because the physiological basis for many aspects of avian molt is poorly known, we offer only hypothetical explanations for the controls responsible for the subcycles.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)642-644
Number of pages3
JournalJournal of Avian Biology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2006


  • White crowned sparrows
  • birds

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