Category Archives: Uncategorized

IOC BIRD LIST V11.1 RELEASED

On January 22 2021 the International Ornithological Congress (IOC) released the latest version of its world bird list (v11.1):

Gill F, D Donsker & P Rasmussen  (Eds). 2021. IOC World Bird List (v11.1). doi :  10.14344/IOC.ML.11.1.

 

The IOC bird list is hosted on a dedicated World Bird Names website, which provides access to the list in various different formats. The list is updated twice a year, in January and July.

 

The details of the changes in the v11.1 release can be found by clicking on the Updates tab on the IOC website. Here is a summary of the major amendments:

 

New to science

Scytalopus Tapaculos  +3 species
Ampay Tapaculo, Neblina Tapaculo, White-winged Tapaculo

 

Splits

Penelope Guans  +1 species

Chaetura Swifts  +1 species

Campylopterus Hummingbirds (Sabrewings)  +1 species

Gallinago Snipes  +1 species

Otus Scops Owls  +1

Bubo Eagle-Owls  +1

Pitta Pittas  +2

Synallaxis Ovenbirds (Spinetails)  +1

Herpsilochmus Antwrens  +1

Scytalopus Tapaculos  +2

Alaudala Short-toed Larks  +1

Gypsophila Ground Babblers (formerly Wren-Babblers)  +2

Myiomela Blue Robins  +1

Pyrrhula Bullfinches  +1

Chloris Greenfinches  +1

Rhynchospiza New World Sparrows  +1

Arremon New World Sparrows  +1

 

Lumps

Caprimulgus Nightjars  -1  [Vaurie’s Nightjar]

Chaetura Swifts  -1  [Mato Grosso Swift]

Caracara Caracaras  -1
[Northern/Southern Crested Caracara lumped as Crested Caracara]

Lepidocolaptes Ovenbirds  -1  [Layard’s Woodcreeper]

 

Revision and resequencing of families

Order Anseriformes has been resequenced to precede Order Galliformes.

Genus Anthracothorax of Mangos, genus Eulampis of Caribs and genus Chalcostigma of Thornbills within Family: Trochilidae – Hummingbirds have been resequenced.

Family: Musophagidae – Turacos has been revised and resequenced.

Family: Spheniscidae – Penguins has been resequenced.

Family: Strigidae – Owls has been revised and resequenced.

Genus Ara of Macaws within Family: Psittacidae – African & New World Parrots has been resequenced.

Family: Calyptomenidae – African & Green Broadbills has a modified English name.

Some species within Family: Thamnophilidae – Antbirds have been assigned to new genera.

Genus Scytalopus within Family: Rhinocryptidae – Tapaculos has been revised and partially resequenced.

Genus Lipaugus of Pihas within Family: Cotingidae – Cotingas has been resequenced.

Genus Rhipidura within Family: Rhipiduridae – Fantails has been partially resequenced.

Family: Bernieridae – Madagascan Warblers has a new English name: Tetrakas & Allies.

Family: Paradoxornithidae – Parrotbills & Allies has a modified English name.

 

In the IOC bird list there are now 10806 extant species (net +19) ascribed to 251 families.

 

One of the split species is Lesser Short-toed Lark, which some birders may well have on their UK list. The only accepted UK record was at Portland, for just one day on 2nd May 1992. The species has now been split into:

 

Mediterranean Short-toed Lark Alaudala rufescens – a mainly sedentary species resident in the Canary Islands, Spain and south-east Portugal, North Africa and Middle East.

Turkestan Short-toed Lark Alaudala heinei – a partially migratory species that breeds in western Middle Asia, wintering and also resident locally in south-west Asia.

 

Since the two species are morphologically very similar, and the UK individual was not photographed, it is unlikely that this bird will be attributable to either species. It is thus probable that it will join the growing cohort of historical UK records that can no longer be identified to species level, thereby reducing the British Systematic List (and some birders’ UK species lists) by one.

 

All the v11.1 changes will be reflected in the 2022 editions of the ATWB Companion Guides. These editions will be released commencing August 2021, after publication of the next version (v11.2) of the IOC bird list.

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Some details …

 

Each of the ATWB 2021 Companion Guides has a number of important features, including:

– A complete taxonomic listing of bird species

– An indication of where each bird family and species can be found in its native state

– Spotlighted species that have a restricted regional or worldwide range

 

However, perhaps the key feature of all eBooks in the Companion Guide series is the way you can quickly and simply access relevant, up to date online information about every featured bird species. If your reading device is connected to the internet, a single click will take you to a search results page for a species, from where you can continue to search for additional information to whatever level of detail you desire.

 

The ‘All the World’s Birds’ series of Companion Guides derives its taxonomy, English names and scientific names from The IOC World Bird List, an open access resource maintained by the International Ornithological Congress (IOC). The IOC bird list is hosted on a dedicated World Bird Names website, which provides access to the list in various different formats.

The version of the IOC bird list used in the ‘All the World’s Birds 2021’ series of Companion Guides is Version 10.2, published July 25 2020.

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INTRODUCING COUNTRY GUIDES

A key challenge facing birders when visiting a country in an unfamiliar part of the world is working out which species they have a chance of connecting with during their visit. Regional field guides, of course, are indispensable, but they have a number of shortcomings:

  • they are published and updated infrequently, meaning they cannot provide the latest information about species
  • they are generally inclusive, meaning they describe every bird species that has been recorded in the region

To save birdwatchers the trouble of trawling through online information to supplement the details in their regional field guides, the All the World’s Birds (ATWB) Country Guides series provides a set of reference eBooks of regularly occurring species for selected countries.

Classifying a bird species as being ‘regularly present’ in a country presents a set of challenges. There is a variety of resources available online that provide information about species distributions, but these do not always agree, and at times when creating these guides I have been obliged to make a judgement based on what seems most likely. Consequently, there will be instances in every publication in the ATWB Country Guides series where the reader may disagree with or be puzzled by the inclusion or exclusion of a species from a particular list. [Note: if you disagree with my assessment of the status of a species in any country, please do get in touch with me by commenting on this blog post!]

For the purpose of the ATWB guides, a definition of ‘regularly present’ goes something like this:

“A bird classified as a species in the IOC bird list and for which under normal circumstances and expectations (i.e. ignoring rare or irregular incursions into regions and accidental records) it is possible to be confident that if you were birding in the appropriate part of the country, in suitable habitat, at an appropriate elevation, and at the right time of the year, for a bird species listed as ‘regularly present’ there would be individuals of that species actually present, and you would have a chance of recording that bird in its native state (i.e. not as an introduced species).” Of course, whether or not you would actually find these birds is another story altogether …!

With this definition in mind, let’s look at the results for the first five ATWB Country Guides to be published:

Ecuador (including Galápagos Islands): 1594 regularly occurring species in 88 families

Peru: 1789 regularly occurring species in 87 families

Mainland Colombia (excludes outlying islands): 1792 regularly occurring species in 85 families

South Africa (excluding Prince Edward Islands): 731 regularly occurring species in 103 families

India (including Andaman and Nicobar Islands): 1209 regularly occurring species in 113 families

What I find most surprising is the closeness of the species counts for Mainland Colombia and Peru. To all intents and purposes they are the same! Once accidentals and introduced species have been removed, and the species that occur regularly in Colombia’s outlying islands in the western Caribbean and Pacific Ocean are discounted, the answer to the question: “Which has more bird species – Mainland Colombia or Peru?” becomes: “Neither! They have the same number (more or less).

The figures above are derived from studying the distributions of extant species that appear in the IOC bird list version 10.2, published July 25 2020.

Gill F, D Donsker & P Rasmussen  (Eds). 2020. IOC World Bird List (v10.2). doi :  10.14344/IOC.ML.10.2.

For the next version of the IOC bird list (11.1), five new species of Tapaculo have been added, which may tip the balance in the favour of Peru (or Colombia!). The point is: this is an ongoing fluid situation, so we might as well accept that the two countries have the same number of regularly occurring species on the mainland of South America. [Note: if you include Colombia’s outlying islands, currently an additional 18 regularly occurring species can be added to the country’s total.] Of course, Peru is a much smaller country, so it wins ‘hands down’ for ‘average number of species per square kilometre’!

Another result is that South Africa and India have arguably a greater diversity of species, with regularly occurring species in each country representing more than 100 families. [Note: for the country of India, Andaman and Nicobar Islands accounts for 45 of that country’s species total.]

Two more ATWB Country Guides will be published shortly: for Myanmar and Vietnam.

You can find all currently available ATWB Country Guides by searching in the Books section of your local Amazon site for ATWBCG. Or, click here to see all ATWB Country Guide titles on Amazon USor here to see all ATWB Country Guide titles on Amazon UK.

Each eBook in the series will be updated annually to reflect the latest internationally accepted status of bird species as defined by the International Ornithological Congress (IOC). The eBooks are priced low and are formatted for all Kindle reading devices (tablets, smartphones, computers). Birders can download the free Kindle reading app to whichever device they will be taking with them.

Within each eBook, birders will find the following sections:

REGION LISTS – check which species occur regularly within each country region

COMPLETE LIST – taxonomic details, showing each species’ order, family, genus and scientific name

SPOTLIGHTED BIRDS – country, local and regional endemics, plus selected specialty birds that have a restricted range

INTRODUCED AND OTHER SPECIES

QUICK REFERENCE – follow the links to find birds based on their common English names

Further, if their reading device is connected to the internet, birders have ‘one click’ access to up to date information about every species that appears in each eBook.

For more details about the series of ATWB Country Guides, click here.

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IOC BIRD LIST V10.2 RELEASED

On July 25 2020 the International Ornithological Congress (IOC) released the latest version of its world bird list (v10.2):

Gill F, D Donsker & P Rasmussen  (Eds). 2020. IOC World Bird List (v10.2). doi :  10.14344/IOC.ML.10.2.

 

The IOC bird list is hosted on a dedicated World Bird Names website, which provides access to the list in various different formats. The list is updated twice a year, in January and July.

 

The details of the changes in the v10.2 release can be found by clicking on the Updates tab on the IOC website. Here is a summary of the major amendments:

 

New to science

Myzomela Honeyeaters  +1 species  Taliabu Myzomela

Rhipidura Fantails  +1 species  Peleng Fantail

Locustella Bush Warblers  +1 species  Taliabu Bush Warbler

 

Splits

Rheinardia Argus Pheasants  +1 species

Charadrius Plovers  +1 species

Campethera Woodpeckers  +1 species

Pyriglena Antbirds (Fire-eyes)  +2 species

Amytornis Grasswrens  +2

Dicrurus Drongos  +1

Petroica Australasian Robins  +1

Bleda Bristlebills (Bulbuls)  +1

Alophoixus Bulbuls  +2

Pycnonotus Bulbuls  +1

Locustella Bush Warblers  +2

Curruca (formerly Sylvia) Warblers  +1

 

Lumps

Picumnus Piculets  -1  [Tawny Piculet]

Corvus Crows  -1  [Northwestern Crow]

 

Revision and resequencing of families

The Gallus genus of Junglefowl in Family: Phasianidae – Pheasants & Allies has been resequenced.

Family: Trochilidae – Hummingbirds has been revised and resequenced.

Within Order Gruiformes, Family: Sarothruridae – Flufftails has been resequenced to precede Family: Rallidae – Rails, Crakes & Coots.

Genus Sarothrura of Flufftails has been resequenced.

Family: Rallidae – Rails, Crakes & Coots has been revised and resequenced.

Genus Rallicula of Forest Rails has been resequenced and transferred to Family: Sarothruridae – Flufftails.

Within Order Suliformes, Family: Anhingidae – Anhingas, Darters has been resequenced to precede Family: Phalacrocoracidae – Cormorants, Shags

Family: Phalacrocoracidae – Cormorants, Shags has been resequenced.

Family: Cathartidae – New World Vultures has been resequenced.

Genus Megascops of Screech Owls in Family: Strigidae – Owls has been revised and resequenced.

Genus Chloroceryle of American Kingfishers in Family: Alcedinidae – Kingfishers has been resequenced.

Genera Campethera and Geocolaptes (Ground Woodpecker) within Family: Picidae – Woodpeckers have been revised and resequenced.

Genus Forpus of Parrotlets within Family: Psittacidae – African & New World Parrots has been resequenced.

Genus Ara of Macaws within Family: Psittacidae – African & New World Parrots has been resequenced.

Within Order Passeriformes, Family: Philepittidae – Asities has been revised and resequenced to precede Family: Eurylaimidae – Typical Broadbills

Family: Eurylaimidae – Typical Broadbills has been resequenced.

The Smithornis genus within Family: Calyptomenidae – African and Green Broadbills has been resequenced.

Family: Pittidae – Pittas has been resequenced.

Family: Cotingidae – Cotingas has been resequenced.

The Dicrurus genus within single genus Family: Dicruridae – Drongos has been revised and resequenced.

Family: Pycnonotidae – Bulbuls has been revised and resequenced.

Genus Progne of American Martins within Family: Hirundinidae – Swallows, Martins has been resequenced.

Genus Locustella of Family: Locustellidae – Grassbirds & Allies has been resequenced.

Within Order Passeriformes, Family: Sylviidae – Sylviid Babblers has been revised and resequenced to follow Family: Cisticolidae – Cisticolas & Allies.

Parrotbills, Fulvettas, Asian Babblers and Myzornis, all formerly in Sylviidae, have been moved to new Family: Paradoxornithidae – Parrotbills and allies.

Single species genus Chamaea (Wrentit) has been transferred to new Family: Paradoxornithidae – Parrotbills and allies.

Family: Zosteropidae – White-eyes has been revised and resequenced and has been moved to follow Family: Paradoxornithidae – Parrotbills and allies.

Family: Timaliidae – Babblers, Scimitar Babblers has been revised and resequenced.

Family: Pellorneidae – Ground Babblers has a modified English name and has been revised and resequenced.

Genus Alcippe within Pellorneidae has been moved to new Family: Alcippeidae – Alcippe Fulvettas.

Family: Leiothrichidae – Laughingthrushes & Allies has been resequenced.

Genus Sitta within single genus Family: Sittidae – Nuthatches has been resequenced.

Genus Ficedula within Family: Muscicapidae – Chats, Old World Flycatchers has been resequenced.

Family: Estrildidae – Waxbills, Munias & Allies has been revised and resequenced.

Family: Passerellidae – New World Sparrows has been revised and resequenced.

Family: Thraupidae – Tanagers & Allies has been revised and resequenced.

 

In the IOC bird list there are now 10787 extant species (net +17) ascribed to 251 families.

 

The changes include the splitting of Subalpine Warbler into:

836/747T    Western Subalpine Warbler    Curruca iberiae

(breeds nw Africa, sw Europe)

836/747Y    Eastern Subalpine Warbler    Curruca cantillans

(breeds ne, c, s Italy, se Europe, w Turkey)

 

All the v10.2 changes will be reflected in the 2021 editions of the ATWB Companion Guides. These editions will be released commencing September 2020.

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Some details …

 

Each of the ATWB Companion Guides has a number of important features, including:

– A complete taxonomic listing of bird species

– An indication of where each bird family and species can be found in its native state

– Spotlighted species that have a restricted regional or worldwide range

 

However, perhaps the key feature of all eBooks in the Companion Guide series is the way you can quickly and simply access relevant, up to date online information about every featured bird species. If your reading device is connected to the internet, a single click will take you to a search results page for a species, from where you can continue to search for additional information to whatever level of detail you desire.

 

The ‘All the World’s Birds’ series of Companion Guides derives its taxonomy, English names and scientific names from The IOC World Bird List, an open access resource maintained by the International Ornithological Congress (IOC). The IOC bird list is hosted on a dedicated World Bird Names website, which provides access to the list in various different formats.

The version of the IOC bird list used in the ‘All the World’s Birds 2020’ series of Companion Guides is Version 9.2, published June 22 2019. The version of the IOC bird list that will be used in the ‘All the World’s Birds 2021’ series of Companion Guides is Version 10.2, published July 25 2020.

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BABBLERS IN THE UK

I started bird watching in 1966, and was soon spending my school holidays travelling by train and bus to birding hotspots on the southern England coast. If someone had told me back then that in 50 years’ time I would be able to go birding in the UK and see five species of babbler, I would have thought they were smoking something. (It was, after all, the ‘swinging sixties’!)

 

Taxonomical developments

 

Half-a-century ago, babblers were exotic species of Africa and Southern Asia. They formed a widely diverse group of garrulous chatterers, living in habitats ranging from dry savannah to high mountain forest. So what has happened since the 1960s? We know climate change is a reality, but it hasn’t (yet) brought swathes of foreign birds to the UK’s shores.

 

Of course, what has changed is our understanding of how species are grouped together in families and how those families are related to one another. Recent DNA testing techniques have shown that falcons are more closely related to woodpeckers than sparrowhawks, that nightjars are near relatives of ducks and swans, and that what we thought of back in the 1960s as ‘warblers’ is a much more diverse group of species than we had imagined.

 

Perusing my 1966 edition of ‘A Field Guide to the Birds of Britain and Europe’ (Peterson, Mountfort, Hollom), I find that back then all warblers were lumped together with flycatchers, thrushes and chats into a sprawling family named ‘Muscicapidae’. This family is still large and diverse today, but warblers and thrushes have long since been separated out. One genus within the 1966 Muscicapidae family was Sylvia. In 1966 there were 12 recognised species in this genus that were regularly present in Europe. Along with a few other species, they were referred to generically by Peterson et al. as ‘scrub warblers’.

 

One of the repositories of latest thinking on bird taxonomy is the IOC World Bird List, which can be found on the website of the International Ornithological Congress (IOC) here. In all that follows I am referring to version 10.1 of the IOC birdlist, published 25th January 2020: Gill F, D Donsker & P Rasmussen  (Eds). 2020. IOC World Bird List (v10.1). doi :  10.14344/IOC.ML.10.1.

 

Babblers

 

Of the 10,770 extant species in the IOC birdlist, 170 have the word ‘Babbler’ or a hyphenated version ‘-babbler’ as part of their English name. They range across 12 families, from Pomatostomidae – Australasian Babblers to the single species Bagobo Babbler, which is in the modern family Muscicapidae – Chats, Old World Flycatchers and most closely related to ‘shortwings’. The largest number (52) are in the aptly named family Timaliidae – Babblers, Scimitar Babblers, but others are in Pellorneidae – Fulvettas, Ground Babblers (44), Leiothrichidae – Laughingthrushes & Allies (32) and Sylviidae – Sylviid Babblers (8).

 

Sylviid Babblers

 

It is this last family, Sylviid Babblers, that most interests me here in the UK, because it contains species I am very familiar with. Eurasian Blackcap, Garden Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, Common Whitethroat and Dartford Warbler are all members of this family, which studies have shown is more closely related to Laughingthrushes than to family Phylloscopidae – Leaf Warblers & Allies (e.g. Willow Warbler, Common Chiffchaff) and family Acrocephalidae – Reed Warblers & Allies (e.g. Sedge Warbler). Furthermore, these five species and 23 others are members of the genus Sylvia. Hence the name of the family: ‘Sylviid Babblers’. Besides bird species with an English name including ‘Babbler’, there are also within this family 10 species of ‘Fulvetta’ [confusingly, not part of the Fulvettas, Ground Babblers family!] and 21 species of ‘Parrotbill’. Also within Sylviidae is Wrentit, the only member of the family that is resident in the Americas.

 

UK babblers

 

So, we have five species of Sylviid Babbler that you can reasonably expect to see in the UK in one day at certain times of the year. It is likely that many UK-based readers will have at least one of them (Eurasian Blackcap) either in their garden or close by.

 

So, next time you are out birding in the UK or Europe and you hear a male Eurasian Blackcap going at full throttle, or see a Common Whitethroat performing its scratchy song-flight, bear in mind that these birds are more closely related to Fulvous Parrotbill of the Himalayas, or indeed Southern Pied Babbler of southern Africa and White-breasted Babbler of Java, than to that Eurasian Reed Warbler chattering away in the reedbed. And remember – they’re not singing, they’re babbling!

 

More information about these and other bird species can be found in the All the World’s Birds (ATWB) series of Kindle eBooks.

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Some details …

 

Each of the ATWB 2020 Companion Guides has a number of important features, including:

– A complete taxonomic listing of bird species

– An indication of where each bird family and species can be found in its native state

– Spotlighted species that have a restricted regional or worldwide range

 

However, perhaps the key feature of all eBooks in the Companion Guide series is the way you can quickly and simply access relevant, up to date online information about every featured bird species. If your reading device is connected to the internet, a single click will take you to a search results page for a species, from where you can continue to search for additional information to whatever level of detail you desire.

 

The ‘All the World’s Birds’ series of Companion Guides derives its taxonomy, English names and scientific names from The IOC World Bird List, an open access resource maintained by the International Ornithological Congress (IOC). The IOC bird list is hosted on a dedicated World Bird Names website, which provides access to the list in various different formats. The version of the IOC bird list used in the ‘All the World’s Birds 2020’ series of Companion Guides is Version 9.2, published June 22 2019.

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LOCKDOWN BIRDING

During the first 50 days of the coronavirus lockdown in the UK, birders, along with most of the rest of the population, were restricted to staying at home and venturing out just once a day for exercise. That exercise had to be taken within walking or cycling distance from home.

I am fortunate enough to live within easy walking distance of the beach on the UK south coast. Between my home and the shoreline is a large house and grounds now owned by the local council. Part of the grounds is managed as a nature reserve. During lockdown, I walked through the grounds almost every day, turning east or west as the whim took me. Here is a summary of what I found, including a few surprises.

 

Where shall I go today?

 

Although I have been living in my current home for nearly three years, I had only given the nearby nature reserve the most cursory attention, casually spotting birds as my wife and I walked through, or occasionally venturing to the grounds of the large house to ‘stretch my legs’. Under normal circumstances, there are too many other tempting birding destinations within easy reach! What the lockdown effectively did was reduce my options to two: do I turn left (east) and go down a path to explore the eastern undercliff and the beach? Or do I turn right (west) through the nature reserve and descend to the beach that way?

 

The nature reserve

 

The woodland to the west of the large house was originally a common, then part of an enclosed estate, then more recently a radar and communications research facility. When the council acquired the land and designated it as a nature reserve, it was heavily infested with invasive and non-native species, such as rhododendron and holm oak. Fortunately, at ground-level at least, that has long been cleared away to leave a largely deciduous wood of mixed native and non-native trees. The wood is partially dissected by a narrow stream, dammed to form a small pond.

 

Resident birds include Stock Dove, Woodpigeon, Moorhen, Tawny Owl, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Jay, Magpie, Carrion Crow; Coal, Blue, Great and Long-tailed Tits; Goldcrest, Wren, Nuthatch, Treecreeper, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Robin, Dunnock, Chaffinch, Greenfinch and Goldfinch. These are augmented in summer by Chiffchaff and Blackcap, when Swallows also regularly swoop overhead, and in winter by one or two Firecrests. From the cliff top you can look out across a broad bay. From here, during lockdown, I would regularly see Great Crested Grebe, Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Sandwich Tern, Cormorant and Gannet, plus the occasional passing Oystercatcher.

 

The beach

 

The beach below the nature reserve is not as interesting bird-wise as the stretch to the east of the large house. Here the shrubs on the undercliff are home to Stonechats and House Sparrows, as well as Jackdaws and some of the commoner birds of the nature reserve. Several winters ago these bushes also served as a temporary home for an overwintering Lesser Whitethroat. Turnstones are regular on the beach here throughout the year, and in winter, the groynes attract some Purple Sandpipers, which I re-connected with at the start of lockdown.

 

New birds

 

Since my previous birding in this area had been somewhat sporadic, it is not surprising that I was able to add some new species to my ‘patch list’ during lockdown. These included pairs of Sparrowhawk and Bullfinch in the nature reserve wood, and a Wheatear on a groyne along the eastern beach on 22nd April. Three Whimbrel that flew past the beach that same day, and a single Common Sandpiper on 6th May, were also ‘site ticks’.

 

Lockdown birding magic moments

 

On 22nd April, while I was on the eastern beach, 26 Mediterranean Gull headed east, many just over my head. This was special, but two other moments really stand out for me:

 

The Sparrowhawks I found at the nature reserve are resident in the area and I have often seen them circling in thermals or flying past from my garden. Then, early on Sunday morning, 26th April, the splendid male of the pair took off from a groyne on the eastern beach and flew right past me at knee-level! Definitely an LBMM for me!

 

Two days later, on 28th April, I found two Firecrests feeding together in the reserve. I had previously seen a singleton near the large house, but could these two birds actually be a pair? And could they be looking to breed in the wood? Unfortunately, I am no longer able to hear the high-pitched calls of this species, so have not been able to re-locate them. However, I shall definitely be looking out for these birds during the coming months and seeing whether I can spot any fledglings!

 

……………………………………………………………………………………..

 

The lockdown experience gave me the opportunity to thoroughly explore the ‘patch on my doorstep’. Unfortunately, I didn’t find the falls of migrants I was hoping for – the good weather probably meant they flew straight ‘over the top’ – and the sea-watching proved disappointing (again, no favourable weather conditions). Nevertheless, I mostly enjoyed my ‘daily hour of exercise’ and found a few more species to add to my site list, along with experiencing some good moments to treasure.

 

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NAME THAT BIRD! (Part 4)

The International Ornithological Congress (IOC) established its world bird list to resolve a widespread problem amongst ornithologists worldwide: there were many examples of different bird species having the same English name. Now in its tenth year, the birdlist, which is hosted on the IOC’s World Bird Names website, is currently at Version 10.1.

Since its inception, the birdlist has gradually expanded its role to become a database of consensus about bird species taxonomy. After having posted three times on different aspects of English names in the IOC database, I have decided to turn my attention now to scientific names.

All the posts in this series will be light-hearted and casual, appearing from time-to-time amid my more regular news items. This is the fourth such post (the first three were published in January this year, and in May and October 2019).

 

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In v10.1 of the IOC birdlist there are 10770 extant bird species grouped into 249 families. Within a family there may be one or more further levels of grouped species, the lowest of which is genus (plural genera). The scientific name for a bird species is in two parts: the genus name (e.g. Halcyon) and the species epithet (e.g. senegaloides). Thus bird species 379/3030 Mangrove Kingfisher has the scientific name Halcyon senegaloides.

 

The distinction of having the longest scientific name goes to 511/5014 Crowned Slaty Flycatcher, which has the scientific name Griseotyrannus aurantioatrocristatus (36 characters, including the space). At the other extreme, there are 12 species with a scientific name only 9 characters long. These include 323/2371 Cinnabar Boobook Ninox ios and 463/3846 Scarlet Macaw Ara macao. The other 10 have a genus name and epithet that are both 4 characters in length, including 319/219F Western Barn Owl Tyto alba and 323/2386 Long-eared Owl Asio otus. The remaining 8 have the following scientific names: Mitu mitu, Apus apus, Crex crex, Grus grus, Alle alle, Sula sula, Bubo bubo and Pica pica. These are, respectively: 052/0298 Alagoas Curassow, 351/260Y Common Swift, 201/1255 Corn Crake, 209/1339 Common Crane, 295/168F Little Auk, 142/0844 Red-footed Booby, 323/227F Eurasian Eagle-Owl and 684/6238 Eurasian Magpie. It is interesting to note how many of these are regularly present in Western Europe.

 

In v10.1 of the IOC birdlist there are 2283 genera, of which 4 have a three-letter name: Aix, Ara, Eos and Nok, comprising respectively 2 species of Duck, 8 species of Macaw, 6 species of Lory and 1 species of Bulbul: 764/6640 Bare-faced Bulbul Nok hualon, which is found in n, c Laos. The longest genus name at 18 characters is Sylviorthorhynchus. This is a genus with only one species: 483/4119 Des Murs’s Wiretail Sylviorthorhynchus desmurii, a member of Family: Furnariidae – Ovenbirds resident in c, s Chile and sw Argentina.

 

The species with the longest scientific name compared to its English name is 548/5327 Tui Prosthemadera novaeseelandiae, a species of Honeyeater endemic to New Zealand and nearby islands. This species’ scientific name at 29 characters is 9-and-two-thirds as long as its English name!

 

Looked at the other way round, 379/3078 North Solomons Dwarf Kingfisher Ceyx meeki, endemic to n, ec Solomon Islands (including North Solomons), has an English name at 31 characters which is more than three times as long as its scientific name.

 

More information about these and other bird species can be found in the All the World’s Birds (ATWB) series of Kindle eBooks.

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Some details …

 

Each of the ATWB 2020 Companion Guides has a number of important features, including:

– A complete taxonomic listing of bird species

– An indication of where each bird family and species can be found in its native state

– Spotlighted species that have a restricted regional or worldwide range

 

However, perhaps the key feature of all eBooks in the Companion Guide series is the way you can quickly and simply access relevant, up to date online information about every featured bird species. If your reading device is connected to the internet, a single click will take you to a search results page for a species, from where you can continue to search for additional information to whatever level of detail you desire.

 

The ‘All the World’s Birds’ series of Companion Guides derives its taxonomy, English names and scientific names from The IOC World Bird List, an open access resource maintained by the International Ornithological Congress (IOC). The IOC bird list is hosted on a dedicated World Bird Names website, which provides access to the list in various different formats. The version of the IOC bird list used in the ‘All the World’s Birds 2020’ series of Companion Guides is Version 9.2, published June 22 2019.

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SAFE BIRDING DURING THE CORONAVIRUS CRISIS

If you’re lucky enough to live in a part of the world where you are still being encouraged to go outside to take exercise, here are some tips for birding safely. Please note that I am not a doctor, nor do I have any medical qualifications. I have simply taken the advice given out by the UK government and applied it to birding. Many of the points below may seem obvious, but one or two might help you to keep even safer and, just as importantly, keep those around you safe.

  • Before you leave your house to go birding WASH YOUR HANDS THOROUGHLY. Make sure your hands start off clean and then keep them clean. Why? Because when we use binoculars, we are constantly raising our hands to our face. My view is that it is better to know that your hands are clean, rather than wear gloves, which might become contaminated.
  • Obviously, it goes without saying really .. don’t share binoculars or telescopes!
  • If possible, go birding alone, and engage in social distancing while you are out. If birding with someone who is not a member of your household, travel separately to the birding site and bird ‘side-by-side’ at least a metre, preferably two metres apart. The same applies if you meet another birder while out. When discussing a sighting, talk to the bird, not to each other. Avoid large groups and sitting in hides.
  • Use a spare hat or scarf to open and close gates, then keep those items away from your face and hands. If possible, carry some sanitising liquid with you. Being antibacterial, the liquid won’t kill a virus, but it will help you to cleanse your hands if you inadvertently touch something that might be contaminated. Use the liquid to cleanse your hands before making the return journey home.
  • If you find an unusual bird, think twice before reporting it in the usual way. Am I likely to be the cause of a major twitch? Is there enough open space and a wide enough viewpoint for local birders to share this bird in a safe way?
  • Finally, think twice before travelling to see a reported unusual bird. If there are mass gatherings of birders, governments will move to suppress them. These are difficult and unusual times. Your annual or lifetime birdlist is not the most important thing to be worried about right now.

Keep safe!

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IOC BIRD LIST V10.1 RELEASED

On January 25 2020 the International Ornithological Congress (IOC) released the latest version of its world bird list (V10.1):

Gill, F & D Donsker (Eds). 2020. IOC World Bird List (v 10.1). doi :  10.14344/IOC.ML.10.1.

 

The IOC bird list is hosted on a dedicated World Bird Names website, which provides access to the list in various different formats. The list is updated twice a year, in January and June.

 

The details of the changes in the v10.1 release can be found by clicking on the Updates tab on the IOC website. Here is a summary of the major amendments:

 

New to science

Myzomela Honeyeaters  +1 species  Alor Myzomela

Dicaeum Flowerpeckers  +1 species  Spectacled Flowerpecker

 

Splits

Lophornis Hummingbirds (Coquettes)  +1 species

Numenius Whimbrels  +1 species

Thalasseus Terns  +1 species

Glaucidium and Strix Owls  +2 species

Microptilotis Honeyeaters  +1 species

Prinia Prinias  +3

Phylloscopus Leaf Warblers  +2

Oenanthe Wheatears  +1

 

Lumps

Lophura Pheasants  -1  [Hoogerwerf’s Pheasant]

 

Deletions

Stachyridopsis Babblers  -1  [Deignan’s Babbler]

 

Revision and resequencing of families

The Pternistis genus in Family: Phasianidae – Pheasants & Allies has been revised and resequenced.

Within Order Charadriiformes, single species Family: Dromadidae – Crab-plover has been resequenced to precede Family: Glareolidae – Coursers, Pratincoles.

The Honeyeaters family Meliphagidae has been revised and resequenced.

The Oriolus genus in Family: Oriolidae – Figbirds, Orioles, Turnagra has been revised and resequenced.

The Poecile genus in Family: Paridae – Tits, Chickadees has been revised and resequenced.

 

In the IOC bird list there are now 10770 extant species (net +12) ascribed to 249 families.

 

The changes include:

a) the splitting of Whimbrel into:

274/1530    Eurasian Whimbrel    Numenius phaeopus

274/153E    Hudsonian Whimbrel    Numenius hudsonicus
                  (Americas)

 

b) the splitting of:

286/164T    West African Crested Tern
                  Thalasseus albididorsalis    (w coast of Africa)

from:

286/1648    Royal Tern    Thalasseus maximus    (coasts of Americas)

 

c) the splitting of:

323/229T    Maghreb Owl    Strix mauritanica    (nw Africa)

from:

323/229Y    Tawny Owl    Strix aluco

 

d) the splitting of Black-eared Wheatear into:

907/835F    Western Black-eared Wheatear    Oenanthe hispanica
                  (breeds nw Africa, sw, western sc Europe)

907/835T    Eastern Black-eared Wheatear    Oenanthe melanoleuca
                  (breeds eastern sc, se Europe, se WP)

 

All the v10.1 changes will be reflected in the 2021 editions of the ATWB Companion Guides. These editions will be released commencing August 2020, after publication of the next version (v10.2) of the IOC bird list.

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Some details …

 

Each of the ATWB 2020 Companion Guides has a number of important features, including:

– A complete taxonomic listing of bird species

– An indication of where each bird family and species can be found in its native state

– Spotlighted species that have a restricted regional or worldwide range

 

However, perhaps the key feature of all eBooks in the Companion Guide series is the way you can quickly and simply access relevant, up to date online information about every featured bird species. If your reading device is connected to the internet, a single click will take you to a search results page for a species, from where you can continue to search for additional information to whatever level of detail you desire.

 

The ‘All the World’s Birds’ series of Companion Guides derives its taxonomy, English names and scientific names from The IOC World Bird List, an open access resource maintained by the International Ornithological Congress (IOC). The IOC bird list is hosted on a dedicated World Bird Names website, which provides access to the list in various different formats. The version of the IOC bird list used in the ‘All the World’s Birds 2020’ series of Companion Guides is Version 9.2, published June 22 2019.

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Sign up to this blog to be informed about releases of new titles in the All the World’s Birds Companion Guide series, and of developments in the IOC bird list.

NAME THAT BIRD! (Part 3)

The International Ornithological Congress (IOC) established its world bird list to resolve a widespread problem amongst ornithologists worldwide: there were many examples of different bird species having the same English name. Now in its tenth year, the birdlist, which is hosted on the IOC’s World Bird Names website, is currently at Version 9.2 and is shortly to be up-issued to Version 10.1.

Since its inception, the birdlist has gradually expanded its role to become a database of consensus about bird species taxonomy. However, I thought it would be appropriate to write a series of blog posts about the English names in the database, to recognise the IOC’s contribution to this particular aspect of ornithology.

The posts will be light-hearted and casual, appearing from time-to-time amid my more regular news items. This is the third such post (the first two were published in May and October last year).

 

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In v9.2 of the IOC birdlist there are 10758 extant bird species. 150 of those have a single-word English name.

1940 other species have an English name that has a unique primary epithet. This is the first part of the English name that describes the species in a way that distinguishes it from other, similar species.

Many of these unique primary epithets are derived from the names of people, such as Dunn’s Lark, Ansorge’s Greenbul and Goldman’s Warbler. There are no other species in the IOC birdlist that have an English name derived from Messrs Dunn, Ansorge and Goldman.

Other unique primary epithets are geographical in nature. For example, Assam Laughingthrush is the only bird species named after the state of Assam in north-east India. Guadeloupe Woodpecker is endemic to the French overseas region of Guadeloupe in the eastern Caribbean and is the only species to have this primary epithet as part of its English name. Just one species, Java Sparrow, has the primary epithet ‘Java’, named after the island in south-west Indonesia (although there are 23 other species with English names beginning with ‘Javan’, such as Javan Cuckooshrike and Javan Sunbird).

The most fascinating unique primary epithets are those that refer to a physical characteristic of the bird species.

Surprisingly, only one bird species is thought to be notable because of its grey legs – the Grey-legged Tinamou of north-western South America. And only one species is described as being both red and yellow – the Red-and-yellow Barbet of eastern Africa. Here are a few more colour-based uniques:

Blood-colored, Red-stained and Red-cockaded – all Woodpeckers; Vinaceous-breasted and Red-spectacled Amazon parrots; Red-vested Myzomela – a species of Honeyeater; Cream-eyed, Cream-striped and Cream-vented Bulbul; Cream-browed, Cream-throated, Ashy-bellied, Pearl-bellied, Black-ringed and Yellow-ringed – all White-eyes.

Unique primary epithets that refer to a bird’s appearance include Small-headed Elaenia, Crow-billed and Hair-crested Drongo, Spike-heeled and Short-clawed Lark, Hairy-breasted Barbet, Hairy-crested (not Hair-crested) Antbird and Hairy-backed Bulbul.

Some unique primary epithets refer to a bird’s behaviour, as in Terrestrial Bulbul, Ant-eating Chat and Rock-loving Cisticola, while others describe their song – Chirruping and Chiming Wedgebills, for example, and Monotonous Lark (not very complimentary!).

But species don’t need to be exotic or restricted to a small range to have a unique primary epithet. There is just one Long-eared bird species and one Short-eared species – yes, those Owls that are familiar to many of us!

So how many bird species in your lifetime list, I wonder, have a unique primary epithet?

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Some details …

 

Each of the ATWB 2020 Companion Guides has a number of important features, including:

– A complete taxonomic listing of bird species

– An indication of where each bird family and species can be found in its native state

– Spotlighted species that have a restricted regional or worldwide range

 

However, perhaps the key feature of all eBooks in the Companion Guide series is the way you can quickly and simply access relevant, up to date online information about every featured bird species. If your reading device is connected to the internet, a single click will take you to a search results page for a species, from where you can continue to search for additional information to whatever level of detail you desire.

 

The ‘All the World’s Birds’ series of Companion Guides derives its taxonomy, English names and scientific names from The IOC World Bird List, an open access resource maintained by the International Ornithological Congress (IOC). The IOC bird list is hosted on a dedicated World Bird Names website, which provides access to the list in various different formats. The version of the IOC bird list used in the ‘All the World’s Birds 2020’ series of Companion Guides is Version 9.2, published June 22 2019.

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KEEP IN TOUCH

Sign up to this blog to be informed about releases of new titles in the All the World’s Birds Companion Guide series, and of developments in the IOC bird list.

10 NEW INTERACTIVE CHECKLISTS

This month (November 2019) ten new Interactive Checklists have been published in the ‘All the World’s Birds’ series of Companion Guides, bringing the total number of ATWB titles that are complete and available for download to 42. (This number has doubled since October 2018.)

 

One of the major challenges facing birders when visiting an unfamiliar part of the world is working out which species they have a chance of connecting with during their visit. Traditional regional field guides, of course, are indispensable, but they have a number of shortcomings:

  • they are published and updated infrequently, meaning they cannot provide the latest information about species, regional distribution etc
  • they are generally inclusive, meaning they describe every bird species that has been recorded in the region, leaving the reader to sift through the vagrants, casuals and irruptive species that visiting birders are a lot less likely to encounter

To save birdwatchers the trouble of trawling through online information to supplement the details in their regional field guides, the All the World’s Birds (ATWB) Companion Guides series of Interactive Checklists is here to help. Over time, this series of eBooks will provide a library of up to date listings for areas of the world that are popular with birders. Already there are 17 Interactive Checklists to choose from covering areas of Indian Subcontinent and Wallacea, and now South-east Asia and North-west South America.

All of the ATWB 2020 series of Interactive Checklists embrace the latest taxonomy, including the recent major re-sequencing of Non-Passerine families.

 

To see all the currently available titles in the ‘All the World’s Birds’ Interactive Checklist series, search in the Books section of your local Amazon site for ATWBICOr, click here to see all ATWBIC titles on Amazon USor here to see all ATWBIC titles on Amazon UK.

 

The ten new eBooks in the ATWB INTERACTIVE CHECKLIST series are:

All the World’s Birds 2020: Interactive Checklist
NON-PENINSULAR MYANMAR

All the World’s Birds 2020: Interactive Checklist
ANDAMAN AND NICOBAR ISLANDS

All the World’s Birds 2020: Interactive Checklist
PENINSULAR MALAYSIA

Click here to see the above three titles on Amazon US; or here to see them on Amazon UK. [You may need to click again if Amazon interprets your search incorrectly.]

All the World’s Birds 2020: Interactive Checklist
WESTERN LOWLAND ECUADOR

All the World’s Birds 2020: Interactive Checklist
ANDEAN ECUADOR

All the World’s Birds 2020: Interactive Checklist
AMAZONIAN ECUADOR

All the World’s Birds 2020: Interactive Checklist
WESTERN LOWLAND PERU

All the World’s Birds 2020: Interactive Checklist
ANDEAN PERU

All the World’s Birds 2020: Interactive Checklist
AMAZONIAN PERU

All the World’s Birds 2020: Interactive Checklist
GALÁPAGOS ISLANDS

Click here to see the above seven titles on Amazon US; or here to see them on Amazon UK. [You may need to click again if Amazon interprets your search incorrectly.]

 

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Some details …

 

Each ATWB Companion Guide deals with the birds to be found in a particular PART of the IOC bird list; a WORLD REGION or sub-region; or an area of the world popular with birders (e.g. North-east India).  All have a number of important features, including:

– A complete taxonomic listing of bird species

– An indication of where in each region each bird family and species can be found in its native state

– Spotlighted species that have a restricted regional or worldwide range

 

However, perhaps the key feature of all eBooks in the Companion Guide series is the way you can quickly and simply access relevant, up to date online information about every featured bird species. If your reading device is connected to the internet, a single click will take you to a search results page for a species, from where you can continue to search for additional information to whatever level of detail you desire.

 

The ‘All the World’s Birds’ series of Companion Guides derives its taxonomy, English names and scientific names from The IOC World Bird List, an open access resource maintained by the International Ornithological Congress (IOC). The IOC bird list is hosted on a dedicated World Bird Names website, which provides access to the list in various different formats. The version of the IOC bird list used in the ‘All the World’s Birds 2020’ series of Companion Guides is Version 9.2, published June 22 2019.

 

To see all the currently available titles in the ‘All the World’s Birds’ series, search in the Books section of your local Amazon site for ATWBOr, click here to see all ATWB titles on Amazon USor here to see all ATWB titles on Amazon UK.

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KEEP IN TOUCH

Sign up to this blog to be informed about releases of new titles in the All the World’s Birds Companion Guide series, and of developments in the IOC bird list.

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