Pileated Woodpecket

Inland Bird Banding Association Resources

The Inland Bird Banding Association provides resources to researchers and anyone interested in learning more about aging/sexing birds, conservation, banding station training. By becoming a member, you’ll become part of a community to learn more and participate in trainings.

Bird Tracking Webinar

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Inland Bird Banding Association


IBBA Resources via Webinar

Sparrows: Aging and Molt Limits
with Dr. David Russell

Inland Bird Banding Association
Swap and Share

WRP System
with Erik Johnson

IBBA Aging and Sexing Tables (Pyle Excerpts)

To better appreciate the efficacy of the use of tables when aging and sexing passerines, read Sakai, W. and C.J. Ralph. 2010. A Tabular Format of Pyle’s Ageing and Sexing Methods for Landbirds. N. Am. Bird Bander. 27:77-90.  (Pdf available via SORA)

Caveat Utilitor!

  • The purpose of these tabular excerpts is to help orient new banders towards using multiple traits when aging and sexing passerines, and to experience the utility of knowing the age when sexing and vice versa.  They may or may not be useful for more experienced banders.
  • They should only to be used only as an adjunct to Pyle’s Identification Guide to North American Birds, Part I, and one must master Pyle’s abbreviations in order to used them.
  • Thoroughly study Pyle’s Introduction chapter, as well as the section, “Molt limits in North American Passerines”, pp 206-211. 
  • Very carefully pore over, consider, and reconsider Pyle’s introduction to aging and sexing on page 3 and the top of page 4.  If you fully grasp it you will be more inclined to consistent apply his two primary tenets in this regard.
  • Understanding Pyle’s core tenets will make it clear that reporting reliable aging and sexing determinations critically depends upon (1) carefully observing all relevant traits, and (2) being willing to report indeterminate individuals as unknown regarding sex or micro-age (e.g., AHY in springtime instead of SY or ASY).
  • Note carefully whether a table refers to a subspecies, and whether you are banding that subspecies.  You can edit a table towards the subspecies you encounter.
  • Pyle does not mention A1/A2 molt limits in his species accounts.  I included them when relevant as per Pyle’s Fig. 134 (p.207). 
  • These tables are a work in progress, so please be encouraged to double-check any information therein and contact Mark Bowman (biophilist1@gmail.com) with any suggested edits.
  • These tables are incomplete (not all species covered), subject to updates, not necessarily ideal for your longitude, latitude, and habitat.

Traits included are not listed in their order of importance.

  • They are often listed in a routine observation order, for instance anterior to posterior (head, wings, then tail)
  • They are sometimes listed in the order in which they occurred in Pyle’s species narratives.
  • Traits that have been most useful in the table creator’s experience are often in bold font or are underlined.

Pyle rarely mentions the status of the outermost primaries in his species accounts, so they are rarely included in IBBA tables.  Nonetheless, he does mention and illustrate that juvenal outermost primaries have relatively faint pigmentation, are more tapered, and in SY birds more tattered than formative or basic ones.

When sexing in spring and summer, be sure to check for the presence or absence of a brood patch and cloacal protuberance.

When aging in the summer or fall, always consider the possible benefit of skulling. 

Content provided by Mark Bowman (biophilist1@gmail.com)

Our Board

Information about the IBBA Board.

Research Opportunities

IBBA has two funds for Research Opportunities – the Paul Stewart Avian Research Fund and the IBBA Research Fund.

Found a band
Found a Band?

If you have found a bird with a federal band or color marker, you can report it to the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center.