Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
Species, Age and Sex Identification of Ducks Using Wing Plumage
Feather Groups of the Duck Wing
- REMIGES: (Flight feathers)
- Alula: The feathered "thumb" of the bird wing
- Primaries: Flight feathers attached to the hand (manus)
- Secondaries: Flight feathers attached to the forearm (ulna)
- Tertials: Incorrect (morphologically) but used here to designate
the more proximal secondaries which are generally different in size, shape,
and color from their more distal counterparts, are often sexually dimorphic,
and usually molt with adjacent body feathers.
- Post humerals: Feathers attached to the humerus. They lie between
the tertials and scapulars, usually molting with adjacent body feathers.
- Scapulars: Feathers of the humeral (upper arm) feather tract.
These lie on either side of the back and may partially cover a folded
wing. They usually molt with adjacent body feathers. (Not shown)
- Axillars: Elongate feathers growing in the "armpit" region and
closing the space between the spread wing and the body
- WING COVERTS: (Cover flight feathers)
- Greater coverts: The first row of feathers overlying the flight
feathers, identified by the particular feathers they cover as primary,
secondary, or tertial coverts.
- Tertial coverts: Those greater coverts that overlie the tertials.
Designated separately here because they are sexually dimorphic in adults
of several species and usually molt with the adjacent body feathers.
- Middle coverts: The next row of coverts.
- Lesser coverts: The next several rows of coverts.
- Marginal coverts: An indefinite number of rows anterior to the
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