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    Accurately differentiating age classes is essential for the long-term monitoring of resident New World tropical bird species. Molt and plumage criteria have long been used to accurately age temperate birds, but application of temperate age-classification models to the Neotropics has been hindered because annual life-cycle events of tropical birds do not always correspond with temperate age-classification nomenclature. However, recent studies have shown that similar molt and plumage criteria can be used to categorize tropical birds into age classes. We propose a categorical age-classification system for tropical birds based on identification of molt cycles and their inserted plumages. This approach allows determination of the age ranges (in months) of birds throughout plumage succession. Although our proposed cycle-based system is an improvement over temperate calendar-based models, we believe that combining both systems provides the most accurate means of categorizing age and preserving age-related data. Our proposed cycle-based age-classification system can be used for all birds, including temperate species, and provides a framework for investigating molt and population dynamics that could ultimately influence management decisions.

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    Wolfe, Jared D.; Ryder, Thomas B. ; Pyle, Peter . 2010. Using molt cycles to categorize the age of tropical birds: an integrative new system. J. Field Ornithol. 81(2):186–194.


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    age classification, molt, molt cycle, plumage, tropical birds

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