Irene, Except in their juvenal (as opposed to juvenile) plumage which is only worn for a very brief period after fledging, catbirds of all ages and sexes will have rufous undertail coverts. The length of the rufous undertail coverts can very quite a bit, however. During the basic molt in mid to late summer, the undertail coverts will fall out and be replaced by new ones as part of the annual molt cycle. A catbird seen during this period could easily lack rufous undertail coverts, as the replacement feathers might not have emerged sufficiently to be detectable. As I mentioned above, catbirds in post-fledging (juvenal) plumage will not have rufous undertail coverts. Juvenal plumage birds are seldom seen (let alone identified) since that plumage is retained for a very short time (in some cases less than two weeks) before most of it starts being replaced. During that time the fledglings are extremely secretive, and the juvenal plumage in many species is so radically different from that the more recognizable plumage that replaces it, that even when such a bird is seen, it is unlikely to be identified. Juvenal catbirds have are a brownish mouse-gray, slightly lighter on the crown, with the throat, sides and vent area tinged buffy or brown. Their legs are likely to be pinkish as opposed to black. While I have banded many young catbirds in the Richmond area and at Kiptopeke, I have never encountered one in juvenal plumage. The above description of it is taken from one of my banding references. Hope that is helpful. Bob ----- Original Message ----- From: <WEalding@xxxxxxx> To: <va-richmond-general@xxxxxxxxxxxxx> Sent: Monday, May 31, 2004 4:31 PM Subject: [va-richmond-general] Re: Once in a lifetime > I noticed that the mudflats appeared at Pocahontas last summer, and posted > the question to the listserv. Someone from the park responded as you did, > that it was from disturbance in outlying areas, and also that we had a huge > amount of rain last summer. It probably appeared "all of a sudden" after > accumulating gradually until it finally broke the surface. > To answer your catbird question, none of my field guides mention young birds > as lacking the chestnut undertail coverts, although both Stokes and Peterson > indicate that it can be inconspicuous. > Wendy Ealding > > You are subscribed to VA-Richmond-General. To unsubscribe, send email to > va-richmond-general-request@xxxxxxxxxxxxx with 'unsubscribe' in the Subject field. To adjust other settings (vacation, digest, etc.) please visit, //www.freelists.org/list/va-richmond-general. > You are subscribed to VA-Richmond-General. To unsubscribe, send email to va-richmond-general-request@xxxxxxxxxxxxx with 'unsubscribe' in the Subject field. To adjust other settings (vacation, digest, etc.) please visit, //www.freelists.org/list/va-richmond-general.