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IBIS  |  Volume 157  |  Issue 2  |  April 2015

The April issue of IBIS contains 14 full articles, including one review paper, five Short Communications and our usual book reviews.



Abundance and abundance change in the world’s parrots
Stuart J. Marsden & Kay Royle
Our featured Review this month is an overview of our knowledge of the population status and trends of one of the world’s largest and most threatened bird families, the parrots. Stuart Marsden and Kay Royle of Manchester Metropolitan University, UK, find that despite the attractiveness and importance of this group, estimates of population density and trend are available for only around a quarter of the world’s 355 species. Estimates of population varied greatly between genera, and there is a long tail of rarity. There is some encouraging evidence that protected areas are supporting higher densities of parrots, although whether this is because of habitat protection or protection from poaching is unclear. Importantly, there was as much variation in numbers between different primary forests than between primary and disturbed forests. The authors argue that the pace of environmental change is fast outstripping our ability to monitor the responses of even highly charismatic species like parrots, and that survey methods need to be improved to fill this knowledge gap.


Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla nestlings do not produce begging calls until they are able to escape from predators  Ewa Wegrzyn & Konrad Leniowski 
Chicks in the nest face a number of problems, one of which is how to attract the attention of their parents when they come to the nest with food without simultaneously attracting the attention of predators. In a remarkable study from Poland, Eva Wegrzyn and Konrad Leniowski from the University of Rzeszów used cunning experiments to demonstrate that Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla nestlings beg silently until they reach the age at which they achieve endothermy, at which time they start to use vocal begging calls. Endothermy increases the ability of chicks to survive a nest attack by predator, and the authors conclude that silent begging, hitherto undescribed in birds, is a way of limiting nest predation at the most vulnerable stage of chick development.

Widespread supplementary feeding in domestic gardens explains the return of reintroduced Red Kites Milvus milvus to an urban area  Mel Orros & Mark Fellowes
The return of the Red Kite to much of lowland UK is one of that country’s greatest recent conservation success stories, but the speed at which the species has spread has exceeded even the most optimistic predictions. Melanie Orros and Mark Fellowes at the University of Reading, UK, assessed the use by Red Kites of urban habitats in a conurbation near London. They find that that the large numbers of Red Kites that visit the conurbation daily from surrounding areas cannot be explained by the amount of road kill or of discarded human food, as this is sufficient to support only a few birds. Instead they find that the amount of food placed in gardens by local householders specifically for the kites explains almost perfectly the number of birds visiting the area. This is an interesting example of how the decisions made by ordinary householders can assist the recovery of a reintroduced population of a threatened species.

Taxonomy of the Narcissus Flycatcher Ficedula narcissinacomplex: an integrative approach using morphological, bioacoustic and multilocus DNA data
Lu Dong, et al.
The taxonomy of the Narcissus Flycatcher Ficedula narcissina – Yellow-rumped Flycatcher F. zanthopygia complex from East Asia has long been debated. In particular, the taxa owstoni and elisae have variously been proposed as subspecies of Narcissus Flycatcher or as full species in their own right. Lu Dong of Beijing Normal University and colleagues have finally resolved the issue in a detailed analysis using morphological, bioacoustic and multilocus DNA data. They find that owstoni and elisae both strongly merit full species status, and that the complex actually comprises four species and not the previously recognised two. They also suggest that the two newly recognised species are both likely to be globally threatened.

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