Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Arabia

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The Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Arabia project reaches a very important stage this year with the publication of the Atlas. The last records were added to the Atlas in April 2010 and it will be published later this year. It will cover 273 proven breeding bird species in Arabia and a further 24 not-quite-proven breeders. For each of the breeding species there is a lengthy text arranged in four paragraph blocks. These cover the species and its taxonomy; status in Arabia generally and in each country, including population estimates; the species’ ecological requirements and finally breeding aspects. For each subject great care has been taken to ensure that only Arabian information is provided, thus avoiding the repeat of data from standard works. For each breeding species there is at least one map showing confirmed and probable breeding and presence records against two different time periods (by use of coloured symbols), up to and after 1 January 1984, and a line drawing. The evidence for breeding of the not quite proven species is given but these are not illustrated or mapped. There are lengthy introductory general chapters on bird distribution in Arabia, including several general maps and over 100 colour photos of habitats, conservation issues and about 50 birds. The Atlas will be published as volume 25 of journal of the Fauna of Arabia, a hardback A4 format journal published by the Senckenberg Institute in Frankfurt, and it will be approximately 750 pages long. Reaching this important stage does not mean the end of the ABBA project. The database will continue to be added to and records collected from all sources, including current and past observers, literature sources and museums and archives. It is intended to revamp the database in the coming months to reflect changes in taxonomy and nomenclature and to migrate it to more modern software, to enable the project to be completely re-launched, including a new website. However, in the meantime, observers are asked to email the project coordinator Mike Jennings (ArabianBirds@dsl.pipex.com) to obtain a set of the project instructions and forms to enable them to complete report sheets for the current breeding season. It cannot be emphasised enough that the project is not just interested in the new and exciting developments regarding breeding/resident birds in Arabia but is also interested in repeat breeding of common birds, population levels, conservation issues, land use and habitat details. All these aspects can be reported. Contributions on all aspects of Arabian birds are also welcomed for publication in Phoenix the project newsletter. (Source: Mike Jennings)

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