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Guide to Shorebird ID, Ageing & Sexing

Wader Topography

This is an illustration of the essential detail of shorebird (or wader) topography, showing in particular the appearance and ordering of the feather tracts on the closed wing.


Reproduced here from the seminal work Shorebirds: An Identification Guide to the Waders of the World by Hayman, Marchant & Prater (Helm, 1986).


The appearance of the tertials, greater coverts (GCs), scapular and mantle feathers, and (to the extent visible) the tips of the primaries and tail feathers, is most important to the bird watcher attempting to assign a sex and an age to a shorebird seen in a standing position.


The colour of the legs, feet, bill, eye-ring and iris (the so-called bare parts) can also be important aids to identification.


The observations contained in the Species Guide tab on the toolbar above will focus mainly on the plumage characteristics of the tertials, greater coverts and scapulars that are observable in the field.  

Wader topography.jpg
Shorebird Topography Open Wing.jpg

Shorebird open wing. Photo of an adult Grey Plover's wing, showing the feather tracts on the wing, and the scapular feathers on the bird's body. Image: Cathy Ryden and Graham Appleton

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