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Guide to Shorebird ID, Ageing & Sexing

Listed below are the primary sources and materials used over several years to inform the field observations collected on this website.


They are essential reference works for bird watchers who wish to enhance their observations by understanding how moult cycles and plumage variation can provide clues to the bird's age and sex. 

An identification guide book to the waders of the world by Feargrieve, Hayman, Marchant & Prater
Shorebirds of the Northern Hemisphere book by Richard Chandler
Shorebirds in Action book by Richard Chandler
Identification of European Non-Passerines book by Jeff Baker
Ageing and sexing series by Meissner and Wader Study Group

Shorebirds: An illustrated guide to the waders of the world

By Peter Hayman, John Marchant & Tony Prater (Helm, 1986)

A ground breaking work on shorebird plumage variation, ageing and sexing.

Shorebirds of the Northern Hemisphere

By Richard Chandler (Helm, 2009)

An exhaustive photo guide to the 134 species of wader found in the northern hemisphere, with notes and illustrations of differently aged birds and plumage variations.  

Shorebirds in Action: An introduction to waders and their behaviour

By Richard Chandler (Whittles Publishing, 2017)

High quality colour photographs of 180 wader species which, although not intended as an ID guide, nevertheless provide interesting examples of differently aged birds in various plumages.  

Identification of European Non-Passerines

By Jeff Baker (BTO, 2nd Edition 2016)

A colour guide to plumage and bare parts for ringers, this handbook is a mine of detail and information for the committed wader watcher interested in moult sequences and timings, and plumage variation in different ages of birds. A must-read for any bird watcher wishing to age birds seen in the field.


This 2016 edition incorporates the BTO's 1977 Guide to the Identification & Ageing of Holarctic Waders by Prater, Marchant and Vuorinen, with colour illustrations replacing the original black & white ones.  

Ageing and sexing series

By Wlodzimierz Meissner, in Wader Study Group

An insightful series of essays, drawing on ringing observations, on ageing and sexing shorebirds using plumage characteristics. Some of the graphics produced in these essays are reproduced in the "Species Guide" on this website.   

FeatherBase is an online collection of wing and body feathers taken from collections of dead birds. The next best thing to a bird in the hand for the field observer (or the armchair ringer!) Also useful for these purposes are the ringing photos taken by Xavier Blasco Zumeta's team in Spain.  

WaderTales is an award-winning online blog by Graham Appleton. It contains essays on shorebird ecology and conservation, as well as information on moult sequences and plumage, together with some high quality photography.  

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