Short Rectrices and Remiges

Eastern Phoebe fledgling (photo by Chuck Tague)

Big words for a little bird.

When Chuck Tague sent me this photo of a newly fledged eastern phoebe, my first reaction was, “Cute bird but where’s his tail?”  And on second thought, “His wings are short, too.”

According to Cornell’s Birds of North America Online, “At normal fledging time, [eastern phoebe] fledglings fly well and are fully feathered. Dimensions, such as weight and tarsus length, approximates that of the adult, but rectrices and remiges are considerably shorter.”

I had to look that up. 

Rectrices are tail feathers (both words have a “T” in them).  Remiges are wing feathers.  Tarsus is the lowest part of the leg.

Eastern phoebes are flycatchers, known for wagging and pumping their tails.  Phoebe Baby is missing his distinguishing feature.  I hope he grows his tail soon.

(photo by Chuck Tague)

One thought on “Short Rectrices and Remiges

  1. I have been reading your site and so enjoy it. I have been watching birds from a novice point of view for over 55 years and you have given me some wonderful information. I started watching birds with my grandmother when I was little and over the years, she and I would talk about our “Finds”. I called her from my home in North Carolina to tell her about the Pilliated woodpecker in my back yard – I was 26 yrs old at the time. I feed the birds in my back yard and am showing my grandchildren the excitement that goes on out there. We have rabbits that visit the ground feeder too.
    Just this week, one of our employees brought in a (unfortunately) dead female humming bird. While I was delighted to see it up close and marvel at the wonderfulness of it’s little body, I also felt sad.
    I will keep checking your site and will continue to feed the birds.
    Thank you, Kate.

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