HBW Alive Newsletter
Nº33, March 2017

Ornithological Notes dealing with vocal analysis 

Over the last few decades, bird vocalizations have become an increasingly important element in taxonomic decision making, as there is growing consensus that an integrative approach is the best guarantee for a solid result. Current taxonomies rely heavily on taxonomic papers, but only a minority of these include detailed vocal analysis, typically whenever researchers have had some field experience and/or their attention was drawn to vocal differences. The HBW and Birdlife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World, Volume 2: Passerines is the first worldwide taxonomy that goes a step further by including vocal properties at a fairly comprehensive scale for any group of taxa where there is a presumption of significant taxonomic divergence.

To allow such massive use of voice information, we have analyzed—in a period of some 20 months—over 800 cases of related species and/or subspecies of Passerines, to determine to what extent these differed vocally.

During this work we amassed so many little pieces of new information, that it would have been a pity not to share these with the ornithological community. Therefore, we decided that for a selection of some 400 cases we would create a separate “Ornithological Note” on HBW Alive for each, focusing on those cases that revealed new information and/or were important for the taxonomic decisions.
Read the full story for further explanations and highlights of some interesting Ornithological Notes for each geographic zone.
Peter Boesman
Editor, HBW Alive
Peter Boesman, bird vocalization expert and recorder, has done the voice analyses in Volume 2 of the Checklist and is the author of those 400 Ornithological Notes.
News on HBW Alive
Recently Updated Species
 Highlighted Owl species with full texts updated:
Austral Pygmy-owl
Austral Pygmy-owl
(Glaucidium nana)
Burrowing Owl
Burrowing Owl
(Athene cunicularia)
Little Owl
Little Owl
(Athene noctua)
Boreal Owl
Boreal Owl
(Aegolius funereus)

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 all species of genera Rallus, Tricholaema and Micropsitta. We hope you enjoy them as much as we have!
Rufous-throated Solitaire
Check out these “Top 5” species with recently incorporated multimedia links: Rufous-winged Woodpecker (Piculus simplex), Rufous-throated Solitaire (Myadestes genibarbis), New Zealand Bellbird (Anthornis melanura), Dead Sea Sparrow (Passer moabiticus) and Streaky Seedeater (Serinus striolatus).
HBW Alive Features

Search box in the First Country Reports section

The First Country Reports (FCR) page conveniently compiles first reports of species by country. Remember that you can subscribe to a weekly “spin-off” newsletter consisting exclusively of these reports, which is sent to FCR subscribers via email every Friday.

As the number of FCR keeps growing—now there are more than 570 reports—it has become more difficult to find a FCR for a specific species or country. So, we’ve added a new Search box, where you can simply type in a species name (partial or complete) or a country that you are interested in and filter the FCRs accordingly.
Get the Most Out of My Birding

HBW Alive passerines to be updated with the new Illustrated Checklist: changes in My Birding

As we announced in the February newsletter, over the last few months we have been working hard on the application of the new information and materials from Volume 2 of the HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World to the passerine species in HBW Alive.

The updating process within HBW Alive will affect all passerines species, with new maps, illustrations, and species accounts for "new" and “mother” species (resulting from splits).

All of these taxonomic changes will also apply to My Birding and your bird sightings! All of your bird sightings with subspecies of split species will automatically be changed to the new species. For example, if you have seen Desert Warbler (Sylvia nana) in Morocco and your record has subspecies deserti specified, it will be moved to the “new” species African Desert Warbler (Sylvia deserti).

But, do not worry; as we did with Checklist Volume 1: Non-passerines, we will create the Manage my sightings tool, where you will find an organized list of passerine species that you have seen and that have been split, so you can easily decide if you want to change any of the species identifications in the sightings or not.
News on Birds
New Taxa

Tatamá Tapaculo Scytalopus alvarezlopezi

A new species of tapaculo endemic to Colombia, Scytalopus alvarezlopezi, from the Western Andes of Colombia has been described. It forms part of a distinctive clade of Scytalopus tapaculos that also includes S. robbinsi from Ecuador, as well as S. stilesi and S. rodriguezi, which occur in the Central and Eastern Andes of Colombia. The new species is diagnosable from its near relatives by its song and mitochondrial DNA; the differences in plumage are more subtle.

Read more about this new species here!
Ornithological News

Macro- and micro-evolution of avian bills

Bill shape in birds is closely associated with diet and foraging techniques and is known to have a key role in avian adaptive radiations. Darwin’s finches of the Galapagos Islands are a good example of bill variation at a microevolutionary scale, within a limited geographical area and over a comparatively short period. But how has avian bill shape evolved across time to attain its outstanding current diversity? Three-dimensional scans of museum study skins, comprising over 2,000 species and over 97% of extant genera, give interesting results that support the well-known model of the paleontologist George Gaylord Simpson. The rise of modern birds from the late Cretaceous onwards apparently occurred in a rapidly changing world, coinciding with extensive ecological opportunity. This may have driven Simpsonian mega-evolution across adaptive zones, later giving way to smaller scale fine-tuning of the bill as avian diversity expanded across the globe.

Nest-boxes may be able to sustain Common Swift populations

Common Swifts (Apus apus) nest in cliff crevices and in trees, but most European populations now rely on holes in monuments and buildings. Declines in numbers in some countries have been partly attributed to new building techniques that tend to reduce the number of nesting sites suitable for swifts. Installing nesting boxes can compensate for nesting sites lost, as has been proved in a new study done in Germany where of 477 compensatory nest-boxes, mainly sited on renovated prefabricated buildings, 24% were occupied by Common Swifts. On most buildings, the number of occupied boxes was as high as, or even higher than, the apparent number of breeding sites prior to renovation.
Read more   News on Birds   |   First Country Reports
IBC's Video of the Month
Pheasant Cuckoo
The little-known terrestrial foraging behaviour of the Pheasant Cuckoo (Dromococcyx phasianellus).
Recorded on Pipeline Road, Soberanía National Park, Panama, on 7 January 2017.
IBC's Photo of the Month
Grey-banded Mannikin
A Grey-banded Mannikin (Lonchura vana) feeding.
Taken in Arfak Mountains, Vogelkop Peninsula, West Papua (Indonesia), New Guinea,
on 25 February 2017.
IBC's Sound Recording of the Month
Red-bellied Pitta
A Red-bellied Pitta (Pitta erythrogaster) from Tagulandang, Sangihe Islands, split in Checklist 2 as Siau Pitta (Erythropitta palliceps)!
Recorded on Tagulandang, Sangihe Islands, North Sulawesi Province, Sulawesi, Indonesia, on 7 January 2017.

NEW!  Follow us on Instagram


Don’t miss our daily bird videos!

  • Video of the Day: A hand-picked favourite that we choose for being particularly interesting and/or beautiful.
  • Bird Families of the World: We present the 243 bird families, one each day, with an example in video when possible.
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 
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 
Birds of Venezuela
Birds of Venezuela
By David Ascanio, Gustavo Rodríguez & Robin Restall

Covering the sixth largest avifauna in the world, this important new guide is essential for anyone exploring the diverse habitats of this beautiful South American country as well as Guyana, northern Brazil and west Suriname. Birds of Venezuela –complete with authoritative text and superb colour plates– will ensure that this top birding destination is made accessible to all.
34.00€   .BUY NOW 
Copyright © 2017 Lynx Edicions, All rights reserved.