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Age and sex determination of Kakerori Pomarea dimidiata

  • Publication Type

    Journal Article

  • Publication Year


  • Author(s)

    H.A. Robertson; J.R. Hay; E.K. Saul

  • Journal Name


  • Volume, Issue

    40, 3

  • Pagination


  • Article Type



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Age and sex determination of Kakerori Pomarea dimidiata

Notornis, 40 (3), 179-187

H.A. Robertson; J.R. Hay; E.K. Saul (1993)

Article Type: paper



The Kakerori, or Rarotonga Flycatcher, of the Cook Islands has two distinctive colour forms: orange and grey. Our colour-band study showed that colour is simply related to age, not to sex as described earlier. When fledglings leave the nest their body is covered in grey down, and their wings and tail are still growing. Orange juvenal plumage is attained about one month after fledging. Despite having similar orange plumage, yearlings can be distinguished from 2 year-old birds on the basis of bill colour and wing and tail lengths. Third-year birds have elements of both main colour phases. Once the definitive basic plumage is attained in the fourth year, the age of grey birds cannot be determined. Wing and tail lengths apparently increase at each successive moult until the definitive basic plumage is reached. Males are larger than females, with bill length being the best discriminator. The progressive colour change recorded here parallels that described for three of the four other species of Pomarea flycatcher in eastern Polynesia, but colour variation in the other species, and in some other monarch flycatchers in the Pacific, needs critical examination. The ability to distinguish three cohorts of Kakerori is useful in measuring annual variations in productivity, survivorship, and age structure of the population.