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UK, Cambridgeshire, Papworth Everard: Moorhen

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Old Saturday 13th October 2018, 22:47   #1
Moonphase
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UK, Cambridgeshire, Papworth Everard: Moorhen

Hello,
I really don't know a lot about birds but I spotted this moorhen today 13th October and it didn't appear to have the red shield (?) and red/ yellow beak I'm used to. Apart from a light tip the shield and beak appeared almost black. Does anyone know why?
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Old Saturday 13th October 2018, 22:50   #2
esmondb
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A juvenile bird
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Old Saturday 13th October 2018, 23:50   #3
Nutcracker
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Yes, a young one - they only develop the adult bill colours when a few months old.


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Old Sunday 14th October 2018, 01:19   #4
Moonphase
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Thank you :)
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Old Sunday 14th October 2018, 07:55   #5
ClarkWGriswold
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Hi Moonphase. I agree with Moorhen and welcome to Birdforum.

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Old Sunday 14th October 2018, 09:28   #6
JWN Andrewes
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Plumage wise this looks like an adult. I think maybe the poor quality of the photo is making the bill look on the dark side (I've messed around with various parameters and a more regular bill seems to be appearing but there are limits to what I can do on this PC).
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Old Sunday 14th October 2018, 13:31   #7
Nutcracker
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Originally Posted by JWN Andrewes View Post
Plumage wise this looks like an adult. I think maybe the poor quality of the photo is making the bill look on the dark side (I've messed around with various parameters and a more regular bill seems to be appearing but there are limits to what I can do on this PC).
The shield is still only half-grown - I'd say a 'late juvenile' just starting to develop adult bill structure and colour. Look at it again in a month or so, and it'll probably have a full adult bill.
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Old Sunday 14th October 2018, 13:45   #8
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I've seen plenty of otherwise adult-looking Moorhens with dark/dull bills like this. I assume they are either in the final stages of transition between juv and adult plumage or they may be adults with low hormone levels for whatever reason (a bit like how gulls of typically yellow-legged species can have pinkish legs if in poor condition, esp outside the breeding season).
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