HBW Alive Newsletter
Nº34, April 2017

HBW Alive passerines updated with the new Illustrated Checklist

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 the HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World - Volume 2: Passerines to the passerine species on HBW Alive. We are happy to announce that the process has been implemented with success. Here are some highlights that may be of interest:
  • HBW Alive formerly covered 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. These taxonomic changes have been carefully applied to HBW Alive so that all data have been accurately reassigned as needed.
  • 12,629 passerine illustrations have been uploaded, of which 642 are new and 1208 are improved illustrations.
  • We have incorporated the 6592 updated distribution maps carefully prepared for the Checklist for all of the passerines. 
But we didn’t stop there…

Already 70 “split” species from across ten families have been updated and all of the sections of their species accounts completed. In the HBW Alive Features section below we explain more about the updating process and the families completed thus far.

These changes also affect My Birding, and in the Get the Most Out of My Birding section below we outline the different tools we have activated to help you apply the new taxonomy to your bird sightings without losing information and while maintaining the accuracy of your data.

We hope that you enjoy the revamped passerines on HBW Alive!
Josep del Hoyo
Director, HBW Alive
News on HBW Alive
Species with Multimedia Links
Crested Malimbe
We are always busy adding multimedia links to the accounts to enhance the comprehension of the already detailed texts. Check out these “Top 5” species with recently incorporated multimedia links: Grey-headed Fish-eagle (Icthyophaga ichthyaetus), Spot-breasted Antvireo (Dysithamnus stictothorax), Large-tailed Antshrike (Mackenziaena leachii), Crested Malimbe (Malimbus malimbicus) and Golden-breasted Bunting (Emberiza flaviventris).
HBW Alive Features

Updates for “new” split species from the Illustrated Checklist

As explained in the Editorial, Volume 2 of the Illustrated Checklist recognises 6592 species of passerines, adopting 627 splits and 54 lumps and incorporating 11 newly described species. Over the last few months, we have been busy reviewing the current information and searching for more details on all aspects of the natural history of the affected taxa, both the original “mother” species and the resulting “daughter” species in the cases of splits.

Here you can find a list of all of the split passerine species, which can be sorted by taxonomic order or date of update and filtered for the updated species.

At present, 70 split species have their sections completed. We have finished the updating process for all of the “new species” (resulting from splits) of these families: Eurylaimidae (Typical Broadbills), Conopophagidae (Gnateaters), Grallariidae (Antpittas), Rhinocryptidae (Tapaculos), Pipridae (Manakins), Cotingidae (Cotingas), Tityridae (Tityras and allies), Tyrannidae (Tyrant-flycatchers), Vangidae (Vangas) and Platysteiridae (Batises and Wattle-eyes).

Here are four examples:
Apolo Cotinga
Apolo Cotinga
(Phibalura boliviana)
Banded Broadbill
Banded Broadbill
(Eurylaimus harterti)
Lemon-chested Greenlet
Lemon-chested Greenlet
(Hylophilus griseiventris)
Comoro Blue Vanga
Comoro Blue Vanga
(Cyanolanius comorensis)
Get the Most Out of My Birding

Updated passerine taxonomy: changes in My Birding

Once the HBW Alive passerine species were updated with the new taxonomy from the HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World - Volume 2: Passerines, all of those changes were also applied to My Birding and to your bird sightings and checks!

All of your bird sightings of newly “split” species in which you have indicated the subspecies have been automatically changed to the “new” species. For example, all of your sightings of “Pica pica mauritanica” have been moved to the new species “Pica mauritanica”.

And if you have bird sightings without the subspecies marked, don’t worry... As we did with Volume 1: Non-passerines of the Illustrated Checklist, we have activated three tools to help you:
  1. Manage my sightings, 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,
  2. Manage my Checks, to review that the ticked species of passerines are still correct after the application of the new taxonomy,
  3. My birding species maintenance, which will help you detect any possible errors or discrepancies to increase the accuracy and consistency of your stored data, with three main tools:
                  a. Show checked species without sightings
                  b. Show sighted species without checks
                  c. Show only sightings out of range

In Manage my sightings and Manage my Checks you will find detailed explanations of how to proceed, and chapter seven of the My Birding User Manual, My Birding species maintenance, explains how to use this tool.
News on Birds
New Taxa

Ventania Yellow-finch Sicalis holmbergi

A new species of yellow-finch, Sicalis (Thraupidae), is described from the mountains in the Ventania range, Buenos Aires province, in the central-east region of Argentina. The description is based mainly on comparative analyses of the vocalizations, observations of behaviour and habitat and comparisons of the plumage and bill with other non-sympatric species of the same genus.

Read more about this new species here!
Ornithological News

Honeyguides respond to specific sounds when guiding humans to bees’ nests

The peculiar habit of the Greater Honeyguide (Indicator indicator) of leading people to wild bees’ nests in order to benefit from the beeswax and grubs left by the human honey-hunters has been known for centuries. Greater Honeyguides seeking human collaboration approach people and give a loud chattering, flying from tree to tree in the direction of the bees’ nests, but they also respond to special human sounds. When seeking and following honeyguides the  local Yao people produce a loud trill followed by a grunt, something like “brrr-hm”, a sound used in no other context. Experimental evidence shows that by using this sound the honey-hunters increased the probability of being guided by a honeyguide from about 33% to 66%, and their overall probability of finding a bees’ nest increased from 17% to 54%.

Cascade effects of the Brown Treesnake invasion in Guam

The unintentional introduction in the mid-1940s of the Brown Treesnake (Boiga irregularis) to Guam Island, in the Pacific, caused the complete loss of ten of the 12 native forest bird species and the functional extirpation of the remaining two. The loss of forest birds has resulted in a severe decline in plant recruitment through the disruption of the fruit-frugivore mutualism. A recent study estimated that the loss of frugivorous birds caused by the brown treesnake may have resulted in a 61–92% decline in seedling recruitment.
Read more   News on Birds   |   First Country Reports
Internet Bird Collection
The new passerine taxonomy has also been applied to the materials on the IBC!

Check out these new split species: Northern Mourner (Schiffornis veraepacis) or Sucre Antpitta (Grallaricula cumanensis).
IBC's Video of the Month
Mariqua Sunbird
Male Mariqua Sunbird (Cinnyris mariquensis) feeding.
Recorded in Makgadikgadi Pans National Park, Central District, Botswana, on 7 March 2017.
IBC's Photo of the Month
Beck's Petrel
A Beck's Petrel (Pseudobulweria becki) flying.
Taken at Cape St. George, New Ireland, Bismarck Archipelago, on 22 January 2017.
IBC's Sound Recording of the Month
Algerian Nuthatch
An Algerian Nuthatch (Sitta ledanti) calling.

Recorded in Algeria, on 9 September 2016.
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