We used field and museum data to describe timing of flight feather molt in the endangered Hawaiian Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus sandvicensis). We evaluated 80 adults captured a total of 107 times at two study sites on Oahu from April 2005 to August 2007. Eighty-five of the birds were not molting, 13 had abraded remiges, and eight of the nine molting adults examined were simultaneously replacing their primaries, secondaries, and upper and lower wing coverts. We also scored molt for 28 Hawaiian Moorhen specimens from three museum collections, but no birds were molting. Molt in Hawaiian Moorhens, which lasts about 30 days, was not synchronous across individuals with molting birds recorded from June to September in the field. We observed non-molting individuals throughout the year including birds we captured and museum specimens. Molting and non-molting birds had similar body condition, as defined by mass/tarsometatarsal length. The flightless period during molt, which likely lasts about 25 days, may increase predation risk, a serious concern in Hawaii where introduced terrestrial predators pose a major threat to moorhen populations.
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Vol. 121 • No. 1