HBW Alive Newsletter
Nº32, February 2017

UNDER CONSTRUCTION: HBW Alive passerines to be updated with the new Illustrated Checklist

As you probably know, the HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World - Volume 2: Passerines was published on 28 December 2016. Since then we have been working hard on the application of the new information and materials from the Checklist to the passerine species on HBW Alive, including the important new taxonomy.

To further the public’s comprehension of the taxonomy and methodology used in the Checklist, as this is sometimes a matter of debate and misunderstandings, we have made available the detailed Introductions that appear in both volumes.

The updating process on HBW Alive has many challenges, as we learned when we did the same with Volume 1: Non-passerines, but we are confident that the passerine update will be ready to unveil during the first week of March.

Here is an overview of the Checklist Volume 2 novelties that you will soon find implemented within HBW Alive:
  • Currently HBW Alive covers 6008 extant species of passerines, while the Checklist recognises 6592, adopting or making 627 splits and 54 lumps and incorporating 11 newly described species; a net increase of 584 species. The taxonomic changes are being applied to HBW Alive very carefully so that all current data are accurately reassigned as needed.
  • 12,629 passerine illustrations are being uploaded, of which 642 are new and 1208 are improved illustrations.
  • We are incorporating the 6592 updated distribution maps carefully prepared for the Checklist for all of the passerines. 
  • The HBW Alive editors are working on filling in details for the species accounts of "new" and “mother” species (resulting from splits), and already more than 225 species accounts for Suboscines are complete and will be available when the overall update is revealed.
This intricate process is all going on “backstage” at HBW Alive, so that your day-to-day use of the site isn’t affected. So, you won’t notice the changes until the completely updated version is launched next month. Many thanks for your patience and comprehension as we prepare all of these important materials for you, in our continued effort to make HBW Alive a more powerful tool for everyone in the ornithological and birding community.
Apolo Cotinga (Phibalura boliviana)
Apolo Cotinga (Phibalura boliviana)
Amy Chernasky
Co-ordinator, Illustrated Checklist
News on HBW Alive
Species with Multimedia Links
We are always busy adding multimedia links to the accounts to enhance the comprehension of the already detailed texts. Some of our recent favourites include links to two genera of Phasianidae, specifically the 11 Lophura species and the 3 Lophophorus species. We hope you enjoy them as much as we have!
Lophura species
Bar-bellied Pitta
Check out these “Top 5” species with recently incorporated multimedia links: Bumblebee Hummingbird (Atthis heloisa), Bar-bellied Pitta (Pitta elliotii), Preuss's Swallow (Petrochelidon preussi), Black Scrub-robin (Cercotrichas podobe) and Long-tailed Rosefinch (Uragus sibiricus).

HBW Alive Features

Voice section updates

Polynesian Imperial-pigeon
The process of updating the original Handbook of the Birds of the World texts continues, and over the last month we have focused on the Voice section of the Columbidae family, updating a total of 108 species. Of special interest are, for example, Polynesian Imperial-pigeon (Ducula aurorae) and Yellow-vented Green-pigeon (Treron seimundi), as the Internet Bird Collection has the only publicly available recordings, which you will find linked in the descriptions.
Get the Most Out of My Birding

Customizing your own Printable Checklist

The Printable Checklist is a feature that all HBW Alive subscribers can use to produce a species list for a specific territory that is fully customized to one’s personal needs, making it a very useful tool for a birding trip.

By default, the page offers you the list of birds present in the territory you select, but now you can personalize the checklist by indicating any species that you want to omit from the list.
Here you can find out more about this new functionality, which is especially useful for those territories with huge numbers of species, as you can create your personalized checklist with the species of just the specific part of a country you will visit. Or, if you are travelling to a territory in a particular season when some species are not present (e.g. summer visitor species in the Northern Hemisphere in winter), you can omit those that you surely won’t see.

“My Birding” box in the species accounts

In the “My Birding” box for each species account, you will find more information related to your sightings of that species, including the number of subspecies seen, the different territories where you have seen it, a map shaded to show the countries where you have seen it and much more. So, this gives you quick and easy access to an overview of your bird sightings.
Here you can find out more about the “My Birding” box.
News on Birds
New Taxa

Fonseca Mangrove Rail

Large rails were discovered in the mangroves along the Pacific coast of Honduras in 2010, and confirmed as local breeders in 2012. In July 2013 the authors collected eight specimens and it was confirmed they were Mangrove Rails (Rallus longirostris). The specimens differ in plumage, being the only Mangrove Rails with a dusky breast band and light grey edging to their back feathers, and males are significantly larger than other male Mangrove Rails. The authors found one base pair among 650 of mtDNA in which the Honduras specimens differ from specimens from Peru and Venezuela. They described the taxa as Fonseca Mangrove Rail (R. l. berryorum). This discovery extends the Mangrove Rail’s known range c.1500 km northwest along the Pacific coast.
Ornithological News
The Yellowhammer (Emberiza citrinella) was introduced in New Zealand in the http://www.hbw.com/species/yellowhammer-emberiza-citrinella19th century, from birds taken from Great Britain. A new study has revealed that the former dialect of the species, now lost in Britain, can still be heard in New Zealand. By comparing recordings of Yellowhammer accents in both countries, scientists were able to hear how the bird’s song might have sounded in the UK 150 years ago. The loss of these dialects in Great Britain is possibly due to the widespread decline of the species in the UK.
Satellite-based telemetry has shown that most male Pectoral Sandpipers Pectoral Sandpiper(Calidris melanotos) that arrived at a known breeding site in northern Alaska subsequently moved through a considerable part of the entire breeding range of the species. Individual males travelled 3,000 km on average within the breeding grounds and visited up to 24 different potential breeding sites, the longest journey observed being of 13,045 km over a four-week period. Stay duration at a site correlated strongly with the number of breeding females present, so it seems that decisions to leave are dependent on local mating opportunities.
Read more   News on Birds   |   First Country Reports
IBC's Video of the Month
Siberian Grouse
A male Siberian Grouse (Falcipennis falcipennis) displaying.
Recorded in Zeyskiy Zapovednik, Amur Oblast, Russia, on 26 August 2016.
IBC's Photo of the Month
Olive-flanked Robin-chat
An Olive-flanked Robin-chat (Cossypha anomala), subspecies macclounii.
Taken on Nyika Plateau, Northern Region, Malawi, on 27 December 2016.
IBC's Sound Recording of the Month
Sri Lanka Green-pigeon
A Sri Lanka Green-pigeon (Treron pompadora) calling.
Recorded in Sinharaja Forest Reserve, Sri Lanka, on 1 April 2016.
New Publications
Birds of Spain
Birds of Spain
By Eduardo de Juana and Juan Varela

English version of Aves de España, the most popular Field Guide to the identification of the birds of Spain, with more than 40,000 copies sold.
  • More than 300 maps
  • Around 1,000 colour illustrations
  • 567 species, including 173 vagrants
25.00€   .BUY NOW 
To be released by mid-February
Free Shipping until February 15th.
Birds of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East
Birds of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East

An annotated Checklist

By Dominic Mitchell

The first major update for Europe, North Africa and the Middle East since the Birds of the Western Palearctic series came to an end two decades ago, this long-awaited checklist is essential reading for all those with an interest in the ‘WP’ and its avifauna.
28.00€   .BUY NOW 
To be released by late-February
Free Shipping until February 28th.
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