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Friday, September 4th, 2020
tipnews
Birds
How to document a sighting?

Some sightings are marked with a yellow triangle and an exclamation mark. Such a symbol means that the sighting is unexpected and needs to be documented more precisely. It may be related to a rare species, an unusual date or an unusual observation site.

The main goal of documenting a sighting is to produce a detailed description of what you have observed:  Each and every evidence concerning the size, appearance, feathering, calling, song, behaviour, the observation conditions, and diagnostic criteria eliminating similar species are needed. Additional proofs like pictures, drawings, video sequences and sound recordings are most welcome. Such documentation is to be done using the official rarities homologation form, which is then sent to the Swiss Rarities Committee (sak@vogelwarte.ch) with the additional proofs. This expert group assesses whether the sighting is correct and sufficiently documented or not to be taken into account in the scientific literature. Sightings accepted by this committee are additionally marked with a green hook behind the yellow triangle.

If such a bird remains in the same place for many days, it is not necessary to describe each and every observation in detail. Yet it is very important to document the first and the last observation date as well as the different individuals present during that time if more than one individual is present. In the normal case, the person who discovered the bird is responsible for the sighting documentation.

An insufficient documentation is the most frequent reason for a sighting to be rejected by the Swiss Rarities Committee. In almost all such cases the description is too poor or even missing. Sentences such as "I know this species very well", "the song was typical" or "the bird was identical to the one pictured in my identification book" are definitely not part of a description. Insufficiently documented observations are not taken into account at all, in any scientific studies. They are marked with a red exclamation point and remain visible only for the person who submitted it, yet not for the other users of ornitho.ch.

In order to guarantee a long term quality of the data published on ornitho.ch, we need you to document your unusual observations as completely as possible. Keep in mind to send your documentation as soon as possible to the Swiss Rarities Committee. Thanks in advance for your commitment on ornitho.ch!

posted by Bernard Volet
 
Tuesday, August 25th, 2020
tipnews
Birds
Which species should you count?

The autumn is already in full swing. Whether you are going to your favourite excursion area or keeping a lookout at an observation post, don't forget to fill in a complete observation list! But for which species do you need to fill in the most accurate figures possible? You can count all species if you want, but if it is too tedious, please count at least the species in category A (those with a red dot in front of their name). For analyses such as the calculation of the presence index, numbers are essential. For such an analysis, 200 counted Honey Buzzards weigh 200 times more than a simple cross that confirms the presence of the species. If possible, always count species A, or give at least an estimate or a minimum number.

We wish you great migratory bird observations

posted by Bernard Volet
 
Wednesday, August 19th, 2020
tipnews
Birds
The House Sparrow south of Bellinzona

The House Sparrow occurs in Ticino in a hybridisation zone with the Italian Sparrow, which extends from the Gotthard to the Bellinzona area. All individuals south of Bellinzona are Italian Sparrows according to current knowledge and should be reported as such.

Here too, some males may exhibit characteristics of the House Sparrow; in this case the entry "Italian x House Sparrow" may be selected.

If you see a "pure" House Sparrow south of Bellinzona, we would be grateful for photo evidence.

Thank you very much for your cooperation!

http://files.biolovision.net/www.ornitho.ch/userfiles/instructions/40FocusKraehen2e.png

Source: https://www.vogelwarte.ch/atlas

posted by Bernard Volet
 
Sunday, August 16th, 2020
avinews
Birds
Communication of the Swiss Rarities Committee

The Swiss Rarities Committee (SRC) has published the minutes of its last meeting, held on 1 July 2020, on the SRC website (www.vogelwarte.ch/src). Among the reports accepted during that meeting are the 1st record of Oriental turtle-dove, the 8th record of Greenish Warbler, the 10th record of Audouin’s Gull, the 8th record of Terek Sandpiper since 1900 and the 19th record of Lesser Kestrel since 1900.

In order to facilitate its administrative work, the SRC recommends to send the rarities reports and photographic proofs as soon as possible and if possible in electronic format (preferably as Word file) to the following address: sak@vogelwarte.ch. The form can be downloaded from the SRC website (www.vogelwarte.ch/src-downloads). In the normal case, the person who discovered the bird is responsible for the sighting documentation.

The SRC thanks you for your collaboration and wishes you many interesting summer observations!

posted by Bernard Volet
 
Friday, August 14th, 2020
tipnews
Birds
Atlas code in late 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.

Thank you very much for your cooperation!

posted by Bernard Volet
 
Thursday, July 16th, 2020
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 7.5.2020). 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
 
Thursday, July 2nd, 2020
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
 
Tuesday, June 9th, 2020
tipnews
Birds
While birdwatching, be irreproachable!

With Black-winged Kite and Rosy Starling we are currently lucky enough to be able to make magnificent observations of beautiful species. We would like to take this opportunity and encourage you to observe responsibly. All of us should adopt an irreproachable behaviour at any circumstances and regardless to the species considered. A code of ethics, which has already been adopted by most of us, exists. Nevertheless, Nos Oiseaux, ornitho.ch, Birdlife Switzerland, Ficedula and the Swiss Ornithological Institute would like you to pay a special attention to the following points:

  • Do not drive on restricted roads (especially in mountainous and agricultural areas).
  • Never leave the official paths in natural reserves.
  • Never enter agriculture areas or ecological compensation zones.
  • Don't imitate the songs and calls and avoid tape-luring.
  • A picture is nothing worth if it was taken to the detriment of the bird or its environment. Moreover such pictures will never be accepted for any of our publications. Avoid taking photos of birds on the nest, as the breeding success is strongly correlated to the disturbance level. (Note that disruptions during the breeding period imply a violation of the Federal Hunting Act and can therefore be prosecuted).
  • A rare bird does NOT justify transgressing the rules cited above.

Teach your family and friends to observe the same comportment.

Thank you for your understanding and your sensitivity towards nature and birds.

posted by Sämi Wechsler
 
Tuesday, June 2nd, 2020
avinews
Birds
New report: State of birds in Switzerland 2020

The annual publication “The State of Birds in Switzerland” summarises the results of our various monitoring projects, conducted with the support of more than 2000 volunteers in all parts of the country. The 2020 report focuses on the population trends of certain breeding bird species, for example farmland birds, owls and corvids. It also takes a closer look at trends in scarce migrants, such as Common Crane, and in winter visitors like Red Kite and Black-headed Gull. You can also explore interactive graphics from the Swiss Bird Index SBI® and the breeding bird index for each species up until 2019.

posted by Bernard Volet
 
Friday, May 29th, 2020
tipnews
Birds
Ducks families

At this time of year more and more ducks families are observed on lakes and rivers. Apart from Mallards, all kinds of wild ducks are monitored by the "monitoring of selected species" program for which the total number of brood is counted. In order to obtain an accurate synthesis at the end of the breeding season we need precise information. For these observations it is therefore important to mention specifically the number of families present and, for each family, the amount of chicks and their size has to be specified (remarks field). The following link gives indications on how to estimate the size of chicks relatively to the size of adults: Altersbestimmung bei Jungenten / Détermination de l'âge des canetons).

Thanks in advance for these precisions. They simplify the data analysis and the monitoring of rare species.

posted by Bernard Volet
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