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BirdLife leads review that proposes another thousand species of birds

202 099_Gracula_robustaMORE THAN 1,000 “new” bird species have been recognised after scientists completed the most exhaustive illustrated avian guide ever compiled.

Published by Lynx Edicions in association with The Handbook of the Birds of the World (HBW) and BirdLife International, the Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World builds on research documented in 17 volumes of HBW. It is divided into two parts with the first volume, published in July 2014, covering non-passerines, while the second (out now) chronicles the world’s passerines.

During the study, scientists undertook a taxonomic review and concluded that the world’s avian diversity had been underestimated by as much as 10 per cent.

Many birds previously believed to be races or subspecies were actually fully-fledged species in their own right, such as the Gran Canaria blue chaffinch (Fringilla polatzeki) and Comoro blue vanga (Cyanolanius comorensis).

In addition, one species – the redbellied pitta (Pitta erythrogaster) – was concluded to consist of 13 distinct species found around South East Asia. It was originally assessed as Least Concern because of its range and numbers, but researchers now know that some are globally threatened.

BirdLife International’s Dr Nigel Collar, who led the taxonomic review, said: “For our own investigations we made a list of about 1,500 cases that we thought deserved study.

“We then spent many months in museums (principally the Natural History Museum in Tring) examining and frequently measuring specimens – we took more than 3,000 measurements altogether – checking the literature and reaching our own conclusions about whether changes to the taxonomy were appropriate.

“The fact that the number of species we now recognise is higher by 1,000 is obviously a big challenge. And as more information comes in, we expect that number to keep on rising.”

● BirdLife International is offering an exclusive €50 discount (£44 approx) off the new book’s €225 (£196 approx) total. If using BirdLife’s discount code, orders must be received by January 31. To order your copy, visit: www.lynxeds.com and enter the code: ADBL1 at the checkout.

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