Aves, p�le ornithologique de Natagora

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Aves, 55/2 | 2018 | 63-97

  Biometric determination of the sex of passerines – 1. The basic statistics
Éric Le Boulengé & André Burnel

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Article summary

The sex of some passerines can be determined visually from the bird's appearance or plumage. For many species, this is not possible at all, or possible for only part of the population. This raises the question of whether it would be possible to infer the sex of a bird from an analysis of biometric data such as Wing Length or Body Mass. The present article, the first of three which will consider this question, presents the necessary basic statistics. The second article will develop a biometric method of determining  bird's sex, together with an evaluation of the error rates when the method is applied to observations of the Common Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs – a passerine whose gender can be confirmed visually – followed by a demonstration of the use of this method on observations of the Common Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita – a species whose sex cannot be determined by visual inspection. The third article will apply the method to all those species of passerine for which we have sufficient data.