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HBW Alive Newsletter
Nº18, December 2015

Status and conservation of all Data Deficient species updated

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species is the most comprehensive, objective global evaluation of the conservation status of plant and animal species. A species is assigned the category Data Deficient “if there is inadequate information to make a direct, or indirect, assessment of its risk of extinction based on its distribution and/or population status” (IUCN 2001). Its liberal use is discouraged, so every effort is made by assessors to assign a threat category upon which conservation priorities can be based. Nevertheless, the paucity of information means that, for example, almost a quarter of all living amphibians are currently Data Deficient. The situation is much better for the relatively well-known order Aves: only 61 (0·6%) of the world's bird species still lack sufficient information on population size, trends, distribution and/or threats to be rigorously assessed by BirdLife International against IUCN Red List criteria.
Bogota Sunangel
Amongst them are some of the world's least-known species like the Cayenne Nightjar (Setopagis maculosa), known with certainty only from the type specimen taken in 1917, or Mayr's Swiftlet (Aerodramus orientalis) described from two specimens collected in 1927 and 1962. Even less is known about three enigmatic species – Bogota Sunangel (Heliangelus zusii), Coppery Thorntail (Discosura letitiae) and Black-browed Babbler (Malacocincla perspicillata) – documented from just one or two specimens of unknown provenance (Butchart & Bird 2009).
The mystery surrounding such species makes them some of the most exciting targets for ornithologists and birders, whose contributions to our knowledge are vital first steps in the conservation of the species. The fact that a species is classed as Data Deficient indicates this primary need to obtain more information, but does not imply that it is not threatened; an analysis of species formerly considered Data Deficient shows that about half turned out to be Near Threatened, while one fifth were eventually assigned categories Vulnerable or Endangered (Butchart & Bird 2009). Over the past few weeks we have been researching and rewriting the HBW Alive accounts of all Data Deficient species. For some of these – including all of those mentioned above – there is no, or very little, new information. Others have become better known: recent surveys have revealed the Emerald Starling (Coccycolius iris) is not threatened, while the rediscovery in 2012 of Sillem's Mountain-finch (Leucosticte sillemi) 1500 km from previously-known localities suggests a change of genus as well as (perhaps) threat category. The Kofiau Monarch (Monarcha julianae) has been less fortunate, and is now considered Vulnerable. About half of all Data Deficient species are found in just two countries: Indonesia and Papua New Guinea (Butchart & Bird 2009). Tantalisingly, several species have only just been studied after decades of neglect: expect some changes to the Data Deficient list in the coming year.

Chris Sharpe
Editor, HBW Alive
News on Birds
Ornithological News
Red-breasted Goose
A recent paper shows that in the order Anseriformes at least five independent transitions towards a predominantly herbivorous diet have taken place. Geese tend to be among the most herbivorous Anseriformes, although notable exceptions include more aquatic herbivores such as swans and herbivorous ducks in the genera Anas and Aythya.
Other highlighted news:
Black Lark
  • A study comparing migratory movements and chronology between Northern Pintails (Anas acuta) marked with satellite transmitters and pintails marked only with tarsus rings has found noteworthy differences. Read more.
  • An observational and experimental study suggests that the animal dung pavement in nests of the Black Lark (Melanocorypha yeltoniensis) may reduce the risk of a nest being trampled by domestic livestock and may also provide thermal benefits by buffering nests against extremes of heat and cold.

First Country Reports

Swainson's Thrush (Catharus ustulatus), one photographed after being found killed by a cat on 31 October 2015 at Markgröningen, Baden-Württemberg, is the first modern record for Germany. The two previous records were in 1866 and 1869.
Report photo by NABU-Vogelschutzzentrum Mössingen.
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Other interesting First Country Reports include Ruby-crowned Kinglet (Regulus calendula) in the Azores; Black Drongo (Dicrurus macrocercus) in Kuwait, which is also the first for the Western Palearctic; Naumann’s Thrush (Turdus naumanni) in Bulgaria; Asian Desert Warbler (Sylvia nana) in Norway; and Collared Flycatcher (Ficedula albicollis) in the UAE.
Report photo by David Monticelli.
Read more   News on Birds   |   First Country Reports
IBC's Video of the Month
Least Bittern

Least Bittern

(Chlidonias hybrida)

An adult male Least Bittern (Ixobrychus exilis) catching a fish.

Recorded in Ventura County, California, USA, on 16 November 2015.
© Don DesJardin
IBC's Photo of the Month
Rufous-necked Hornbill

New Zealand Storm-petrel

(Fregetta maoriana)

A New Zealand Storm-petrel (Fregetta maoriana) showing its underwing pattern.

Taken in Hauraki Gulf, Auckland Region, North Island, New Zealand, on 1 January  2015.
© Paul Noakes
IBC's Sound Recording of the Month
Australian Logrunners

Australian Logrunners

(Orthonyx temminckii)

Two pairs of Australian Logrunners (Orthonyx temminckii) caught in a territorial dispute.

Recorded in Lamington National Park, Queensland, Australia, on 10 October 2014.
© Pieter de Groot Boersma
News on HBW Alive
Species with Multimedia Links
Ecuadorian Trogon
Currently more than 335 of the “new species” (resulting from splits) have multimedia links incorporated in their species accounts. See what we mean, for example, in the accounts of Western Spotted Dove (Spilopelia suratensis), Golden-crowned Emerald (Chlorostilbon auriceps), Sunda Cuckoo (Cuculus lepidus) or Ecuadorian Trogon (Trogon mesurus).
We have added more than 550 multimedia links to the accounts of the 25 Falco species. Explore them!
Falco species
Rufous-headed Tanager
Here are some highlights of species with recently incorporated links: Buff-throated Partridge (Tetraophasis szechenyii), Vasa Parrot (Coracopsis vasa), White-rumped Ground-sparrow (Pyrgilauda taczanowskii) and Rufous-headed Tanager (Hemithraupis ruficapilla).
HBW Alive Features

New illustrations from the Machu Picchu field guide incorporated in HBW Alive

HBW Alive includes all of the bird illustrations from the acclaimed HBW series, covering all of the bird species in the world, including males and females in cases of sexual dimorphism and many morphs and distinctive subspecies. But, we are always looking for ways to give our HBW Alive users MORE... So, as we prepare new illustrations for various Lynx publications, we plan to incorporate them in HBW Alive. Recently, we uploaded 50 brand new illustrations from our newly released Field Guide to the Birds of Machu Picchu and the Cusco Region, Peru, as well as 11 illustrations with small improvements.
Variable Hawk
Some new illustrations are of flying raptors, like those of male and female Cinereous Harrier (Circus cinereus) and the dark and pale morphs of Variable Hawk (Geranoaetus polyosoma), and others are of juvenile plumages, like those of White-tufted Grebe (Rollandia rolland) and Little Blue Heron (Egretta caerulea).
Mountain Velvetbreast
Adult non-breeding plumages of several shorebirds and seabirds have been uploaded, like of Lesser Yellowlegs (Tringa flavipes) and Franklin's Gull (Larus pipixcan), as well as new illustrations of subspecies that we didn’t include in HBW, like the male and female rectirostris subspecies of Mountain Velvetbreast (Lafresnaya lafresnayi) and the apicalis female of Green Hermit (Phaethornis guy).
With these 61 new illustrations we take another step towards one of HBW Alive’s main goals: to become not only the greatest resource of ornithological information available on the web—thanks to all the continually updated texts of the Species and Family accounts—but also a useful source of illustrations of all the bird species of the world, with male and female plumages, and also plumages of adult non-breeding, juvenile and flying birds. Right now we are in the process of incorporating and adjusting more than 300 new illustrations from our forthcoming guide Birds of New Guinea, including Bismarck Archipelago and Bougainville. We will keep you informed...
Get the Most Out of My Birding
My Birding is advancing every day. Here are two of the latest improvements:

How many times have you seen a species in a certain country?

Once you’ve introduced or imported all your bird sightings into My Birding, it’s very easy to find out the number of sightings you’ve had of each species for every country you’ve visited. Read this tutorial to learn more…

Introducing multiple subspecies of the same species in a Birdlist

Now it’s very easy to indicate several different subspecies of the same species in a Birdlist. In this tutorial we’ll explain how to do so in just a couple of steps.
New Publications
Bird Families of the World

Hot off the Press!


Bird Families of the World
An Invitation to the Spectacular Diversity of Birds
By David W. Winkler, Shawn M. Billerman and Irby J. Lovette

Co-published by Lynx Edicions and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology

31 x 24 cm • hardback • c. 600 pages • 243 distribution maps
c. 750 colour photos • 2,336 bird figures (all genera Illustrated)
The last decade has seen a revolution in our knowledge of the evolutionary relationships of birds. Ornithologists have succeeded in conducting analyses of the genetic codes of a large proportion of the birds of the world, and these analyses have resulted in a robust redefinition and re-sequencing of the orders and families of the birds of the world.
This new view of birds and their relationships is summarized here, in what is designed to be simply the best single-volume entry to avian diversity available, and to provide a mental map to help you organize your experiences and observations.
Wildfowl of Europe, Asia and North America

Wildfowl of Europe, Asia and North America
By Sébastien Rieber

This new identification guide provides an unrivalled level of detail and a wealth of information and illustrations. The text is complemented by 650 colour photos, almost all taken in the wild, and 72 colour plates painted by the author and featuring over 920 individual artworks. Together, these represent most of the plumages of each of the 84 species treated in this book, as well as more than 100 hybrids that are observed more or less regularly in the wild.
48.00€    .BUY NOW 
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