Sexing adult northern shrikes using DNA, morphometrics, and plumage

Ryan S. Brady, James D. Paruk, Anthony J. Kern

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    10 Scopus citations

    Abstract

    Northern Shrikes (Lanius excubitor) are predatory songbirds found primarily in taiga regions throughout their Holarctic breeding range. The species is poorly known, especially in North America, and is generally thought to be sexually monomorphic. From 2004 to 2007, we captured 50 adults in northern Wisconsin during the nonbreeding season (December-March) and determined sex using DNA extracted from feather samples. Males had significantly longer wings, longer tails, and less black in the outer rectrix than females, but body mass did not differ between the sexes. A discriminant function equation using tail length and extent of black on the outer rectrix correctly assigned the sex of 97.4% of captured adults. Plumage dimorphism was also evident, with males having paler gray heads and backs without brown tones, whiter underparts with lighter barring, and a more distinct and horizontal border at the base of the sixth primary feather. The ability to accurately determine sex will provide opportunities to examine possible inter- and intrasexual differences in the behavior and ecology of adult Northern Shrikes.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)198-205
    Number of pages8
    JournalJournal of Field Ornithology
    Volume80
    Issue number2
    DOIs
    StatePublished - Jun 2009

    Keywords

    • DNA analysis
    • Discriminant function analysis
    • Lanius excubitor
    • Plumage dimorphism
    • Sex determination

    Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Sexing adult northern shrikes using DNA, morphometrics, and plumage'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this