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Wednesday, August 10th, 2022
technews
Birds
Adjustment of the rarity level of species

On ornitho.ch, each species is assigned a rarity level. Periodically, we make adjustments to reflect changes in the occurrence of a species. For example, from now on, the Griffon Vulture and the European Bee-eater will no longer be designated as "rare" species. Sanderling, Temminck's Sandpiper and Curlew Sandpiper have been upgraded from "uncommon" to "rare". Some species occur with varying frequency depending on the region. For example, we classify the Alpine Chough as "very common" in the Alps, but as "rare" in the Jura. For most species, however, we keep the classifications at the national level. We cannot take into account regional variations, such as the surprising rarity of the Tree Sparrow in the canton of Geneva.

posted by Bernard Volet
 
Monday, August 1st, 2022
technews
Birds
New: form for rare bird observations

Forms for the Swiss Rarities Committee (SRC) can now be submitted directly to ornitho.ch

We are pleased to announce that the first version of the form for documenting observations of rare birds and unusual sightings subject to approval has been put online. The observations concerned are marked with a yellow triangle on ornitho.ch. The documentation provided is examined by the Swiss Rarities Committee, a group of experts who examine whether the observation is sufficiently documented to be included in the scientific literature.

The online form appears automatically when a sighting needs to be documented. More concise than its paper predecessor, it revolves around the central piece of information, the "Description" field. If you are lucky enough to encounter a rare bird, take the time to document your observation. If possible, take photos, record the calls or songs with your smartphone (the video mode is usually sufficient for this). Even photos/videos of average quality are often sufficient to document the sighting. Photos showing the bird from different angles are very useful. Look at the bird in detail: the bill, its length, shape and colour, the pattern of the head, back, wings, underparts, tail, rump and undercaudals. Note also the length and colour of the legs.

Photos, videos and recordings are of course very useful evidence for documentation, but they are not mandatory. In the absence of these documents, or if they do not show the essential criteria, it is important to describe in detail what you have observed. Use the "Description" field to do this, noting first in a few words how you found the bird and what its behaviour was. If you are not the finder but know who it is, mention this. Then describe the bird, starting with its size in comparison with the species next to it or with common species. Then list any plumage details you have observed (see above, a sketch can also be very useful) and transcribe as much as possible of the calls or song. Also mention which identification criteria could not be seen. If the species is similar to one or more other species, make the differential diagnosis: note why it is the rare species and not the other similar species.

In the "Identification" section, mention in the "Experience with this species" box whether you have seen this rare bird before (if so, where and how many times?) or if it is the first time.

As a general rule, the responsibility for documenting an unusual sighting lies with the person who discovered the bird. If the bird is staying, it is also important to document the last date of observation. Similarly, it is necessary to document additional individuals if the number varies, as well as sightings of the bird at a new location.

Your observations to be documented will appear on your home page under the heading My records without rarity report. It is possible that already accepted records (yellow triangle with green V) will appear on the home page: you can simply ignore them by clicking on the X on the right to remove them from this section.

We hope that this new form will make it easier for you to document your unusual sightings and we wish you many pleasant surprises in the coming months.

posted by Bernard Volet
 
Friday, July 15th, 2022
technews
Birds
Important settings of the ornitho app NaturaList

The mobile input of observations directly from the field is increasing more and more. In the meantime, about half of the data is received via the ornitho app NaturaList. But there are a few things to keep in mind and it is important that the app is set up correctly. You can access the "Preferred settings" via the "Hamburger menu icon" and configure the app there. We would like to list some particularly important notes and settings below:

1. Report the position of the bird, not your own location!
When entering data, it is important to move the map so that the red pointer marks the location of the bird. Your own location (smiley) is irrelevant and only serves to facilitate orientation in the field within the app.

2. Select the correct species list!
The species list is a central element of the app, through which important options are controlled (e.g. map bases, projects, bird monitoring, additional information). It is therefore of great importance that the list from ornitho.ch is selected for bird observations in Switzerland. Please check in the settings of the app under "Species list" that the list of the internet portal ornitho.ch is selected.

3. Correct list of atlas codes!
Particularly important information can be obtained by assigning atlas codes. Even though the codes are internationally agreed, there are slight differences from country to country. To ensure that your observations can be correctly classified, it is important to select the 19-digit list in the app settings under "Choice of atlas codes". Basic information on assigning atlas codes can also be found here: Which sightings to record?

4. Use map bases optimally!
We recommend using the map “Swisstopo Map Live” as default. The default can be set in the app settings under "Map". Should it ever be necessary to use an aerial photograph for a particularly precise location, the map layers can be easily changed during data entry via the "layers" symbol at the top left of the map (e.g. " Swisstopo SWISSIMAGE Live"). Please do not choose any of the Google map layers, for two reasons: 1.) These cause costs for us, all others are free of charge (and often better)! This money can be put to much better use. 2.) There are plans to remove most of these from NaturaList soon.

Please take the time to check the above settings once and correct them if necessary. This will make the app easier to use, improve the quality of your data and help us to save costs. You can find many more tips on how to use NaturaList in our user guide "Reporting bird observations" (available in German, French or Italian).

Thank you very much!

posted by Bernard Volet
 
Friday, July 1st, 2022
tipnews
Birds
Atlas code in summer

Depending on the breeding bird species, the atlas code is no longer automatically requested by the system since July 1 or August 1. However, we would be grateful if you would continue to attach it in case of justified breeding indications (Atlas code 7 or more). This applies in particular to duck families with still dependent young.

Furthermore we would like to point out that it is very valuable for duck families if you indicate the number of young birds/families as well as the size of the young birds in eighths (relative to the mother) under the remarks field. See leaflet "Altersbestimmung bei Jungenten / Détermination de l'âge des canetons".

The more precise your sightings are documented, the easier it is to interpret them correctly. Many thanks for your help!

posted by Bernard Volet
 
Wednesday, June 29th, 2022
avinews
Birds
Second Osprey Morning full of surprises

The results of this year's second Osprey morning confirm the presence of at least 4 territorial males, with a few other surprises. For more details see www.balbuzards.ch. Photo: Pascal Rapin.

posted by Bernard Volet
 
Friday, June 24th, 2022
tipnews
Birds
Sightings from mountainous regions

Observations made above the forest line are extremely valuable due to the fact that the density of birdwatchers in the Alps and the Jura is rather low. We are also interested in observations of migrating and wintering birds at high altitudes. When submitting your observations, do not forget to check the altitude suggested by the system and correct it if necessary.

In order to get the best possible information, we ask you to locate your sightings as precisely as possible (zoom into the map until the blue and yellow dots appear, then click on the observation site; in the drop-down menu displayed, select "Add observation with exact localization"; the tip of the red pointer should point to the observation site). By doing so the altitude of the observation is automatically and precisely determined by the system. You can also add exact localizations to observation lists if you wish to (see Tipnews from 6.5.2022). If you use the NaturaList app, each of your sightings is automatically localized exactly.

We thank you in advance for your commitment and wish you fruitful hikes!

posted by Bernard Volet
 
Tuesday, June 21st, 2022
tipnews
Birds
Jobs at the Vogelwarte

Dear ornithologists

The Swiss Ornithological Institute has recently advertised several new job offers: www.vogelwarte.ch/de/vogelwarte/mitarbeit/jobs/ These include two project manager positions in the departments "Monitoring" and "Situation of the bird world". For these two positions, profound knowledge of the Swiss avifauna is also required, which is why we would like to explicitly draw your attention to this. The deadline for applications for the two positions mentioned is Sunday 3 July.

posted by Sämi Wechsler
 
Friday, June 17th, 2022
tipnews
Birds
Young birds: Which atlas code to use and how to record birds age?

Towards summer, the number of immature birds increases. As they are a proof of a successful breeding, it is important to report them as correctly as possible.

The atlas code is the parameter to use. We recommend that you always use the highest possible code corresponding to the given situation. The following codes can be used to confirm the presence of young birds from the current breeding season: 13, 16 and 19.

Atlas code 19 is used when you find a nest containing eggs or young birds. It is not mandatory that you see the young birds: begging calls are sufficient, e.g. in a nesting box, or if you see adult birds carrying food to the nest at regular intervals.

Atlas code 16 is used if you see at least one adult bird carrying food for the young birds. It should not be used, however, if an adult is bringing food to the nest as part of the courtship or feeds its partner. On the other hand, this code can also be used, especially for songbirds, if you observe an adult feeding a young bird outside the nest.

Atlas code 13 refers to young birds that have left the nest. For nidicolous birds (e.g. songbirds, birds of prey), the code should only be used in the first days after the young birds leave the nest and if they are still clearly dependent on their parents. After that time, the young birds often begin extensive reconnaissance flights far away from their breeding area. As an extreme case one should mention young Black-crowned Night-Herons: they can appear in June, often still have down feathers on their head, but have been hatched outside the country. In such cases definitely do not use an atlas code! In the case of precocial birds, especially ducks, the code is used as long as the families are still easily recognizable as such. It can also be used for large fledglings until they become fledged.

In the detailed information field regarding age and sex, there are various ways to document young birds from the current calendar year: "chick", "1st year" and "immature". The term "chick" refers both to young nidicolous birds in the nest and precocial birds still wearing down feathers. Nidicolous young birds outside the nest and precocial birds which are already wearing the juvenile dress are called "1st year". Of course a chick is also a 1st year old bird and it is not wrong to call a chick that way - it is just less precise. The term "immature", on the other hand, is very imprecise and should be avoided if possible for birds that can be clearly identified as this year's birds.

Furthermore we would like to point out that it is very valuable for duck families if you indicate the number of young birds/families as well as the size of the young birds in eighths (relative to the mother) under the remarks field. See leaflet "Altersbestimmung bei Jungenten / Détermination de l'âge des canetons".

The more precise your sightings are documented, the easier it is to interpret them correctly. Many thanks for your help!

posted by Bernard Volet
 
Saturday, June 11th, 2022
technews
NaturaList maps: Switch from Google to Swisstopo now!

An analysis of map use in the ornitho app NaturaList (for Android and iOS) has shown that the Google street map "Google plan" is used very frequently. This is astonishing, as this map layer is conceivably unsuitable for accurately reporting bird observations: it shows almost no terrain features that could be used for orientation.

Almost every other available map layer offers better possibilities for the exact location of your observations - on aerial photos, even individual trees and bushes can be clearly recognised. Another disadvantage of all Google map layers is that they incur costs for the ornitho system per use! This money could be much better spent on new developments on the ornitho platforms and in the NaturaList app.

Familiarise yourself with the multitude of high quality map layers in ornitho! You can change the map layer via the "Layers" icon in the top left corner of the map. In the "Preferred settings" under "Map" you can select a map layer that is displayed by default at the beginning (default map).

We recommend either the map "Swisstopo Map Live" or the aerial image "Swisstopo SWISSIMAGE Live". In other countries, where the high-quality maps of our Federal Office of Topography are not available, "OpenStreetMap Live" is a valid alternative. Change over now and adapt your standard map on your smartphone! Thank you very much!

posted by Sämi Wechsler
 
Thursday, June 9th, 2022
avinews
Birds
Ospreys well on track

The results of the first "Osprey morning" 2022 are now available on www.balbuzards.ch.

After the discovery of a new occupied territory at the Grande Cariçaie, a second morning is planned for 19 June from 5:30 to 10:00. If you are interested in participating, please contact Wendy Strahm, project coordinator of Nos Oiseaux, directly at wendy.strahm@gmail.com.

posted by Bernard Volet
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