SEEN - SE European Bird Migration Network
The study of moult
Fig. 1. Moult card of Swiss Ornithological Institute

Moulting strategies and the timing of moult are highly dependent on population. Since various populations migrate over Europe and the Middle East records of moult in migrants offer many possibilities for interesting moult studies. One course of action is to collect moult data using "moult cards". The moult card design for passerines and its filling-up rules are presented below (Fig. 1) after instructions of the Swiss Ornithological Institute:
"This moult card shows both wings. For general use, fill in moult cards for every bird belonging to one of following categories:
1. In summer/autumn: All adults in moult and all adults having renewed part of the plumage; all first-year birds with growing or renewed secondaries or primaries.
2. In winter/spring: All birds in active moult of primaries, secondaries, tertials, rectrices or greater coverts; all birds after moult with renewed secondaries or primaries.
If possible record all feathers, but data for restricted tracts only (e.g. primaries and secondaries) are welcome as well.
General information (first three lines) -
- Sex/age
- Feather-Iength, weight, fat score: this is optional on ringing stations where this information is recorded in the ringing lists.
- Skull pneumatization: This is important additional information. Give either score or tick the appropriate box. .
Moult data -
Always fill in one side (wing and tail) completely. If time allows, complete both sides, especially if they are different or deviate from "normal " moult patterns. If you hold the bird with the head towards you, you might turn the moult card.
Write codes into the white feather boxes. Use horizontal lines to indicate that the
same code applies for a series of feathers.
Give the approximate percentage of old, new and growing feathers for body feathers, marginal   (" lesser") and median coverts. If body feathers are composed of three generations, the additional column may be used (explanations in the comment section).

Codes: The aim is to assign each feather to the moult when it has been grown. Codes
0 - 5 are the same as those used in the BTO moult card.
0 - old
1 - feather missing origin
2 - feather just emerging from sheath or up to 1/3 grown
3 - feather between1/3 and 2/3grown
4 - feather more than 2/3 grown, but still not full grown or with trace of sheath remaining at base
5 - renewed in summer/autumn in the breeding range (postbreeding postjuvenile moult)
6 -  renewed after autumn migration during (late autumn) winter/spring (“prebreeding” moult)
7 - In winter/spring: older than 6, either 0 or 5. This code may be used in winter/spring for feathers which appear much older than 6, but for which it is uncertain whether they have been acquired during the postjuvenile/postbreeding moult or earlier; In summer/autumn: older than 0. This code may be used in late summer/autumn for feathers, which have been retained during the previous prebreeding moult (e.g. adult Muscicapa striata, Oriolus oriolus)
8 - older than 6, either 5 or "early 6". This code may be used in winter/spring for feathers which appear somewhat older than 6, but for which it is uncertain whether they have been acquired during the postbreeding/postjuvenile moult before autumn migration or during an early "prebreeding" moult in late autumn/winter
9 - impossible to assign"
Created by Pronetix 2006