Working for birds in Africa


Fri, 02/08/2013 - 10:32 -- abc_admin

ABC Library

ABC has a modest collection of publications relating to birds and their conservation in Africa. The Club is not able to lend out the publications but will provide researchers with copies of individual articles (subject to compliance with copyright law) upon application. The list of publications can be found here*. The last update was 1st January 2014. 

Literature Supplements

From 1994 to 2004, Peter Lack compiled a supplement to the ABC Bulletin which covers papers and articles published during the year. To ensure that these useful references are available to members, ABC will now publish the supplements electronically. All of the supplements can be downloaded here in Microsoft Word format.

Literature Supplement 1994 Literature Supplement 2000
Literature Supplement 1995 Literature Supplement 2001
Literature Supplement 1996 Literature Supplement 2002
Literature Supplement 1997 Literature Supplement 2003
Literature Supplement 1998 Literature Supplement 2004
Literature Supplement 1999



Brewster, C.A. (2011) A visit to Lake Dow in December 2010. Babbler 55: 11-12 (no address given). Ardeola ibis; Plegadis falcinellus; Anas erythrorhyncha; Tringa glareola; Philomachis pugnax.

Dowsett, R.J. and Dowsett-Lemaire, F. (2011) The avifauna of Benin: additions and corrections. Bulletin of the African Bird Club 18(2):  148-167  Le Pouget, 30440 Sumene, France. email: 74 new species including Gallinago media, Phyllastrephus baumanni, Hieraaetus africanus, Stizorhina finschii, Vidua interjecta.

Craig, A.J.F.K., Bissett, C., Galpin, M.D., Olver, B. & Hulley, P.T. (2011) ‘The avifauna of Kwandwe Private Game Reserve, Eastern Cape, South Africa. Koedoe 53(1),  rt. #1015, 5 pages. DOI: 0.4102/koedoe.v53i1.1015 Department of Zoology and Entomology, Rhodes University, Grahamstown 6140, South Africa email:  302 species have been recorded, 182 (60.3%) appear to be resident, 46 (15.2%) are seasonal migrants and 74 (24.5%) are vagrant visitors. The varied thicket vegetation types of the Great Fish River Valley support a considerable diversity of bird species. Conservation significance: Ciconia nigra; Sagittarius serpentarius; Stephanoaetus coronatus; Polaemaetus belliscosus; Circus maurus; Anthropoides paradiseus; Podica senegalensis; Alcedo semitorquata; Ardeotis kori; Neotis ludwigii; Ardeotis kori; Buphagus erythrorhynchus; new arrivals: Ardea goliath; Turnix sylvatica; Rhinoptilus africanus; Merops bullockoides; Cypsiurus parvus; Cinnyricinclus leucogaster; Sporopipes squamifrons; Passer diffusus

Ginn, P.J. (2011) Record of specimens collected on Peterhouse Kalahari Expeditions (1966-1970). Babbler 55: 6 – 11 (no address given). 52 species listed: Merops pusillus; Dendropicus fuscens; Mirafra africana; Calandrella cinerea and Calandrella conirostris.


Records – North Africa

Bergier, P. et al (2011) Rare birds in Morocco: report of the Moroccan Rare birds committee (2007-09). Bull. African Bird Club 18(1): 40-60 (no address given). Sula dactrylatra; Ardea monicae; Milvus aegypticus; Gyps rueppelli; Charadrius leschenaulti; Eremalauda dunni; Anthus hodgsoni; Turdus obscures. 

Crochet, A. and Spaans, B. (2008) Spur-winged Goose at Banc d’Arguin, Mauritania, in December 2004 Dutch Birding 30(2): 101-102.

Exposito, C.G., Copete, J.L., Qninba, A. & Garrido, H.(2012) History, status & distribution of Andalusian Hemipode in the WP. Dutch Birding 33: 75 - 93. Turnix sylvatica found in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Italy, Portugal & Spain. Only one population currently known in Doukhala region of Atlantic coast of Morocco. There is hope that birds are still present in North Algeria & South Spain.

Palacín, C and Alonso, J.C. (2009). Probable population decline of the Little Bustard Tetrax tetrax in north-west Africa. Ostrich 80 (3): 165–170 Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales, CSIC, José Gutiérrez Abascal 2, E-28006 Madrid, Spain E-mail: Abstract: six surveys in north-western Morocco between 1999 and 2005. Both the number of birds and their distribution have apparently decreased, especially during the last third of the twentieth century. The present distribution is limited to the north-western part of Morocco, where at least five areas have been identified where Little Bustards have been sighted during the last years. The current population is extremely endangered, with an estimated total of not more than a few tens of birds.


Records – West Africa

Dean, W.R.J., Adams, M., Frahnert, S. and Milton, S.J. (2010). William John Ansorge’s bird collections in Guinea-Bissau: an annotated list Malimbus 31: 75-108 DST/NRF Centre of Excellence at the Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology, University of Cape Town, Rondebosch 7701, South Africa. W.J. Ansorge collected at least 189 species of birds during three expeditions to Guinea-Bissau. This collection includes eggs of Numida meleagris, Apus affinis, Hirundo lucida, Turdus pelios, Hypergerus atriceps, Tchagra senegala, Laniarius turatii and Ploceus nigricollis, supplementing known breeding records for the country.

Dowsett-Lemaire, F., Demey, R. & Dowsett, R.J. (2011). On the voice, distribution & habitat of Baumann's Greenbul Phyllastrephus baumanni. BULLETIN OF THE BRITISH ORNITHOLOGISTS´ CLUB 131(3): 154 - 164. This bird was found by its song at many new localities from north-western Guinea to western Cameroon at altitudes between 10 - 1500m in low dense growth 1-2m above ground (rarely up > to 4-5m) including fallow field & Chromolaena farm bush to thickets in transition woodlands or in open semi-evergreen forest under broken canopy.

Issiaka, Y. and Awaïss, A. (2009) Avifauna of the wetlands of the W National Park, Niger: importance and distribution in space and time. Malimbus 31: 65-74 Université Abdou Moumouni de Niamey, Faculté d’Agronomie,Département Eaux & Forêts/Génie rural, BP 10960, Niamey, Niger. Several waterbird counts were carried out along the River Niger and the vegetation and habitat described. We identified 55 waterbird species, of which 21 were W Palaearctic breeders. The riverine sites were richer than the lake. Species richness was high in February–April and diminished progressively to June–August.

Melo, M. and Dallimer, M. (2010). Is there an undiscovered endemic scops owl Otus sp. on Príncipe Island Malimbus 31: 109 – 115 Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology, DST/NRF Centre of Excellence, University of Cape Town, 7701 Rondebosch, South Africa. Owl-like calls were heard every night at two sites in low altitude (< 250 m) primary forest and at a third site during the day. Call structure differed from that of the calls of known Otus species corroborating previous anecdotes of “owl-like” birds in tree holes.

Mills, M.S.L., Melo, M., Borrow, N. and vaz Pinto, P. (2011) The Endangered Braun's Bushshrike Laniarius brauni: Bulletin of the African Bird Club 18(2): 174-181 A.P. Leventis Ornithology Institute, University of Jos, PO Box 17404, Jos Plateau State, Nigeria. email: In Northern Angola restricted to 3500 km2 estimated 3500 -7000 individuals. Not found in any conservation area favouring secondary forest & forest edges at 600 - 870m.

Mills, M.S.L., Melo, M. and Vaz, A. (2011) Black-tailed Cisticola Cisticola melanurus in eastern Angola: behavioural notes and the first photographs and sound-recordings. Bulletin of the African Bird Club 18(2): 193-198 A.P. Leventis Ornithology Institute, University of Jos, PO Box 17404, Jos Plateau State, Nigeria. email: Mostly fed low in dense undergrowth on the edge of woodlands and in clearings although they foraged at all heights from ground levels to the canopy at 12m.

Simmons, R.E. (2010) First breeding records for Damara Terns and density of other shorebirds along Angola’s Namib Desert coast OSTRICH 81(1): 19–23 DST/NRF Centre of Excellence at the Percy FitzPatrick Institute, University of Cape Town, Rondebosch 7701, South Africa E-mail: During a three-day survey in southern Angola in January 2009, from Tombua in the north to the Cunene River mouth in the south (a distance of 197 km), 573 Sterna balaenarum of which 7.5% were fledglings, were recorded in three main concentrations: two in the Baia dos Tigres region, and one 30 km north of the Cunene River mouth. Other shorebirds encountered on the survey included the first record of European Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus and the second record of Swift Tern Sterna bergii in Angola.

Waltert, M., Seifert, C., Radl, G. and Hoppe-Dominik B. (2010). Population size and habitat of the White-breasted Guineafowl Agelastes meleagrides in the Taï region, Côte d'Ivoire. Bird Conservation International (2010), 20:74-83 a1 Department of Conservation Biology, Centre for Nature Conservation, Georg-August-Universität, Von-Siebold-Straße 2, 37075 Göttingen, Germany.Josefstr. 50, 33106 Paderborn, Germany. e-mail: Line transect surveys of Agelastes meleagrides were undertaken between 2000 and 2001 with an overall survey effort of 2,883 km. Abundance was highest in the sector with the driest forest type, the N'Zo Faunal Reserve (encounter rate: 0.02 detections km−1, density: 32.9 ind. km−2), where we also observed the largest group recorded for the species so far (38 individuals). The species was almost absent where poaching is strongest.


Records – East Africa

Amakobe, B. and Borghesio, L. (2008) New bird records from the Mathewsange forest, Samburu District. Kenya Birds 12(1&2) (Ornithology Section, Dept of Zoology National Museum of Kenya. email: Bradypterus baboecala; Malaconotus nigrifrons; Policephalus gulielmi; Nicator chloris; Mandingoa cyanomelas; Crytospiza salvadorii

Anderson, J. and Berhane, D. (2011) Recent observations on Abyssininan endemic bird species in Eritrea. Bull. African Bird Club 18(1): 31-39 (no address given). Fifteen species including first breeding (or suspected) of Apagornis taranta; Lybius undatus; Melaenornis chocolatines; Parus leuconotus; Dendropicos abyssinicus; Bostrychia carunculata.

Engilis, A., Lalbhai, P.S. and Caro, T. (2009). Avifauna of the Katavi-Rukwa ecosystem, Tanzania. Journal of East African Natural History 98(1): 95–117 Department of Wildlife, Fish, and Conservation Biology and Museum of Wildlife and Fish Biology University of California, Davis, CA, 95616, USA. email: Our 2003 survey, during the dry season, yielded 222 species of birds, four of which had not been reported previously. In combination with other publications, field reports, and incidental observations we documented 458 species of birds occurring in this ecosystem. The confirms the presence of ten globally threatened species including Phoenicopterus minor and Bugeranus carunculata, 18 biome restricted species, one range restricted species Ploceus reichardi, and significant numbers of Rynchops flavirostris.

Roxburgh, L. and Buchanan, G.M. (2010). Revising estimates of the Shoebill (Balaeniceps rex) population size in the Bangweulu Swamp, Zambia, through a combination of aerial surveys and habitat suitability modelling OSTRICH 81(1): 25–30 1 Zambian Ornithological Society, PO Box 33944, Lusaka, Zambia. E-mail: We conducted an aerial survey of Shoebills in the Bangweulu Swamps of north-eastern Zambia using a microlight aircraft in July 2006, and used strip transect methodology to estimate population size. Population size was then re-estimated based on the extent of potentially suitable habitat, which covered 37% of the swamp. Our most conservative mean population size estimate of 1296 individuals is 550% higher than previous estimates.


Records – Southern Africa

Borghesio, L. and Gagliardi, A. (2011) A waterbird survey in northern Mozambique. Bull. African Bird Club 18(1): 61-67 (no address given). 14,982 birds of 34 species: Dromas ardeola; Chardrius marginata; C. mongolus; C. leschenaulti; Pluvialis squatarola; Sterna benghalensis; exceeded 1% Ramsar criteria. 

Brewster, C.A. (2011) A record of River Warbler Locustella fluviatilis at Crocodile Pools, South-eastern Botsawna. Babbler 55: 2-3 (no address given). 

Chirarira C. (2011) The status of the Wattled Crane in Driefontain Grasslsands of Zimbabwe Honeyguide 57(1): 10-14. (BirdLife Zimbabwe PO Box RVL 100 Runiville Harare email: Bugeranus carunculatus peaked at 138 birds in 2004 but has since declined due to cultivation and  livestock disturbance.

Cizek, A. (2009). Birds of Serra Choa, Mozambique with first records for Mozambique, new localities for Eastern Highland endemics and a record of Red-throated Pipit. Honeyguide 55(1): 11-21. 71 Gibbon Rd, Kingston-upon-Thames, Surrey KT2 6AD, UK. email: Hirundo atrocaerula, Hirundo cucullata, Telephorus nigrifrons, Swynnertonia swynnertoni, Apalis chirindensis, Anthus cervinus

Dowsett, R.J., Brewster, C.A. and Hines, C. (2011) Some bird distributional limits in the Upper Zambezi Valley. Bull. African Bird Club 18(1): 17-30. (no address given).  Guttera pucherani; Serinus gularis; Parus cinerascens; Pteroceles namaqua; Lanius souzae. This article documents the range of bird species which have their distributional limits in the Upper Zambezi Valley, an area where four countries come together (Zambia, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe). Some of these birds are expanding their ranges, and others may be expected to do in future: it is thus important to document present distribution. 

Ewbank, D.A. (2009) Notes on populations and breeding of storks, ibises and spoonbills in Zimbabwe. Honeyguide 55(1): 22-27 15 Egremont St, Ely CB6 1AE, UK. email: chinadavid2000@yahoo.comCiconia nigra, Ciconia episcopus (breeding only 32-35E between Malawi and Zululand), Ephippiorhynchus senegalensis (breeding range expansion high rainfall years), Anastomus lamelligerus, Leptopilos crumenifrona, Threskiornis aethiopicus, Bostrychia hagedash, Platalea alba, Scopus umbretta. Five species have increased their breeding ranges in Zimbabwe in the last 50 years.

Hancock, P. (2011) Additional areas used by Wattled Cranes Grus carunculatus during summer. Babbler 55: 4-5 (email:

Hanmer, D.B. (2009) What is the longevity of birds in the eastern highlands? Honeyguide 55(1): 41-44. PO Box 3076, Paulington, Mutare. email: 60 bird species that lived over five years: eigtheen over ten years: oldest Cyanomitra olivacea 18.5 years and Andropadus milanjensis 19.5 years.

Human, S. (2011) Chasing the White-winged Flufftail. Bokmakierie 230: 14 – 15 (no address given).  Sarothrura ayresii seen Middelpunt wetlands, near Benoni showing the characteristic white feathers on the wing.

Irwin M.P.S. (2011) A closer look at the Black Saw-wing Swallow in Zimbabwe Honeyguide 57(1): 15-18. (Harare, Zimbabwe email: Psalidoprocne holomelaena recorded breeding once but vagrant elsewhere.

Joliffe, K. (2010). A survey of raptors breeding in Ndumo Game Reserve. GABAR 21(1 & 2): 52-55 (Cousine Island. Seychelles. email: Haliaetus vocifer; Terathopius ecaudatus;  Stephanoaetus coronatus; Circaetus fasciolatus; Gyps africanus; Gypohierax angolensis; Kaupifalco monogrammicus; Accipiter badius.

Kopij, G. (2010) Sandstone plateaus as bird refugia in Lesotho lowlands, southern Africa. Berkut. 19 (1-2): 39-48. Department of Vertebrate Ecology, Wroclaw University of Environmental & Life Sciences, Kozuchowska 5b, 51-631 Wroclaw, Poland; e-mail: In total 61 species were recorded in the large plateau (Qeme), 57 – in the medium-sized (Masite), and 40 – in small plateau (Qoatsaneng). The index of bird community similarities between slopes and plains was 0.83; between dry and wet season on slopes S = 0.75 and S = 0.44 on plains; between dry and wet seasons was S = 0.76, and between two consecutive years S = 0.94. The most common species were: Stigmatopelia senegalensis, Columba guinea, Prinia maculosa, Erythropygia coryphaeus, Cossypha caffra, Emberiza tahapisi, Emberiza capensis, Onychognathus morio, Pycnonotus brunneus, Serinus canicollis , Telophorus zeylonus.  

Lipshutz, S., Remisiewicz, M., Underhill, L.G. and Avni, J. (2011) Seasonal fluctuations in population size and habitat segregation of Kittlitz’s Plover Charadrius pecuarius at Barberspan Bird Sanctuary, North West province, South Africa OSTRICH 82(3): 207–215 Avian Ecophysiology Unit, Department of Vertebrate Ecology and Zoology, University of Gdańsk, al. Legionów 9, 80-441 Gdańsk, Poland E-mail: We determined changes in the size of Kittlitz’s Plover populations in two microhabitats (Goose Point and Sandy Beach) at Barberspan Bird Sanctuary, North West province, South Africa, The estimated adult population at Goose Point  peaked at 161 in October 2009, but decreased to about 40 in March 2009 and March 2010. The immature population peaked at 119 in January – February 2010. The estimated number of adults at Sandy Beach increased from 48 in March 2010 to 380 in April 2010. Adults captured there in April 2010 formed feeding flocks and were heavier than the resident birds at Goose Point. 

Marshall B. (2011) The Slaty Egret in Zimbabwe. Honeyguide 57(1): 19-21. (Auckland, New Zealand email: Egretta vinaceigula has increased in Zimbabwe since the 1980s from its stronghold on the Zambezi.

Oschadleus, D. (2009). An irruption of Red-billed Quelea Quelea quelea in the Western Cape province, South Africa. Ostrich 80 (3): 193–196 Animal Demography Unit, Department of Zoology, University of Cape Town, Rondebosch 7701, South Africa E-mail: quelea has been expanding its range into the Western Cape province since 1986 in the Karoo and since 1997 there have been annual reports of the species in the province. It has become resident in the Karoo. In April and May 2007 there was an invasion in the Western Cape province. Sixty-eight percent of records were within 5 km of the coast, over a stretch of 1000 km of coastline. Adult males in breeding plumage were frequently observed, indicating that this irruption was not limited to post-juvenile dispersal. This is a potential threat to a major wheat-producing area and continued monitoring is required.

Tree, A.J. (2011) The Black-winged Stilt in Zimbabwe. Honeyguide 57(1): 5-9. (South Africa email: Himantopus himantopus has increased in Zimbabwe since the 1980s with hundreds recorded at four sites. Breeding is still sporadic.

Whittington-Jones, C.A., Wagner, T. and Muller, P. (2010) Aerial survey of raptors in the Magliesburg, South Africa. GABAR 21(1 & 2): 41-51. (Gauteng Directorate of Nature Conservation, PO Box 8769 Johannesburg 2000 South Africa email: Oct 2004: over 200 raptors seen mostly Gyps coperthes; Aquila verreauxi; Falco biarmicus.


Records – Islands

Skerrett, A., Betts, M., Bowler, J., Bullock, I., Fisher, D., Lucking, R. and Phillips, J. (2011) Fourth report of the Seychelles Bird Records Committee. Bulletin of the African Bird Club 18(2): 182-192. PO Box 331, Victoria, Mahe, Seychelles. email: 17 new species including Pterodroma heraldi, Bulweria fallax, Crypsirus parva, Hirundo smithii, Merops superciliosus,  Apus melba, Oenanthe desert, Aytha fuligula, Falco tinnunculus


Migration – Palearctic

Barboutis, C., Henshaw, I., Mylonas, M. and Fransson, T. (2011) Seasonal differences in energy requirements of Garden Warblers Sylvia borin migrating across the Sahara desert. Ibis 153: 746–754. (Natural History Museum of Crete and Department of Biology, University of Crete, PO Box 2208, 71409 Heraklion, Greece Email: The flight range estimates were adjusted to the seasonal extent of the desert, 2200 km in autumn and about 2800 km in spring. In autumn, with an average fuel load of about 100% of body mass without fuel, birds were not able to cross the desert in still air, but northerly winds prevail during September and with the average wind assistance only one in 14 was predicted to fail to make the crossing. 

Dizon, A., Nyambayar, B.and Purev-Ochir, G. (2011). Autumn migration of an Amur Falcon Falco amurensis from Mongolia to the Indian Ocean tracked by satellite. Forktail 27: 86 - 89. (International Wildlife Consultants (UK) Ltd, UK. email: Bird tracked south through China into N Vietnam where it turned west in Burma and India. Last located 1180 kms. off the coast of Goa having travelled 81,245 kms. in 78 days.

Hahn, S., Bauer, S. and Liechti, F. (2009). The natural link between Europe and Africa – 2.1 billion birds on migration. Oikos 118(4): 624 – 626 Swiss Ornithological Inst., Luzernerstrasse 6, CH–6203 Sempach, Switzerland. SB email: ABSTRACT Palaearctic – African migratory birds may form strong links between the two continents given they can act as both transport vehicles for parasites and diseases as well as temporary consumers with increased food demand to fuel their flight. We estimate that today approximately 2.1 billion songbirds and near-passerine birds migrate from Europe to Africa in autumn, 73% of which are accounted for by just 16 species: Phylloscopus trochilus; Anthus trivialis, Phylloscopus collybita and Hirundo rustica are the most numerous.

Hilgerloh, G., Michalik, A. and Raddatz, B. (2011) Autumn migration of soaring birds through the Gebel El Zeit Important Bird Area (IBA), Egypt, threatened by wind farm projects. Bird Conservation International 21 : pp 365-375 Institute of Zoology, Johannes Gutenberg University, Johannes v. Müllerweg 6, D-55128 Mainz, Germany.e-mail: At Zeit Bay, Egypt 27.73°N, 33.51°E during autumn 2006. A total of 145,432 soaring birds, including 134,599 storks and 9,376 raptors  were observed between 20 August and 29 October. Ciconia ciconia and Pernis apivorus were the most numerous species (91.4% and 5.7% respectively) of all soaring birds observed. Neophron percnotperus, Falco naumanni, Circus macrourus, Circus aeruginosus and Circus pygargus however, were more numerous (100) than at three other migration sites along the East African-West Asian Flyway. Ciconia nigra observed accounted for 4.8% of the flyway population.

Klaassen, R.H.G., Alerstam, T., Carlsson, P. Fox, J.W. and Lindström, A. (2011) Great flights by Great Snipes: long and fast non-stop migration over benign habitats. Biology Letters 7 no. 6 833-835 1 Department of Biology, Lund University, Ecology Building, 22362 Lund, Sweden email: We show that Gallinago media made long and fast non-stop flights (4300–6800 km in 48–96 h), not only over deserts and seas but also over wide areas of suitable habitats, which represents a previously unknown migration strategy among land birds. Furthermore, the Great Snipes achieved very high ground speeds (15–27 m s−1), which was not an effect of strong tail wind support. 

Loka, T., Overdijk, O., Tinbergen, J.M. and Piersmaa, T. (2011) The paradox of spoonbill migration: most birds travel to where survival rates are lowest. Animal Behaviour 82(4): 837-844.  (Animal Ecology Group, Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary Studies, University of Groningen).  We compared wintering site choice and age-dependent site fidelity in Platalea leucorodia leucorodia, for the period 1992–2010. During their first southward migration, most spoonbills migrated to the southernmost wintering region (Mauritania and Senegal). Other birds were likely to move there from their first to their second winter, whereas hardly any birds moved to a more northerly wintering area. For the rest of their life, spoonbills remained highly site faithful. This resulted in most birds wintering in Mauritania and Senegal with smaller numbers in France and Iberia. Wintering site choice could still be optimal for individual birds if birds wintering in Mauritania and Senegal are competitively inferior to the European winterers or more susceptible to severe winter weather. Alternatively, wintering site choice of spoonbills is suboptimal and, assuming that spoonbills can assess differences in suitability, limited flexibility may prevent them from switching to more suitable sites.

Mellone, P., López-López, R., Limiñana and Urios, V. (2010) Weather conditions promote route flexibility during open ocean crossing in a long-distance migratory raptor International Journal of Biometeorology 55, Number 4, Pages 463-468 Grupo de Investicagion Zoologia de Verteabrios, University de Alicante, Apdo 99, 03080 Alicante, Spain. email: Eleonora’s Falcon (Falco eleonorae), was tracked by satellite telemetry from the wintering grounds in the Southern Hemisphere to the breeding sites in the Northern Hemisphere. As far as we know, the data presented here are the first report of repeated oceanic journeys of the same individuals in consecutive years. Our results show inter-annual variability in the routes followed by Eleonora’s Falcons when crossing the Strait of Mozambique, between Madagascar and eastern continental Africa. Our results suggest that weather conditions can really act as obstacles during migration, and thus, besides ecological barriers, the migratory behaviour of birds could also be shaped by “meteorological barriers”. We briefly discuss orientation mechanisms used for navigation.

Tøttrup, A.P. and 9 others (2012) The annual cycle of a trans-equatorial Eurasian–African passerine migrant: different spatio-temporal strategies for autumn and spring migration Proc. R. Soc. B279(1730): 1008-1016 1Center for Macroecology, Evolution and Climate, Department of Biology, University of Copenhagen, Universitetsparken 15, DK-2100 Copenhagen, Denmark email: We recorded the entire annual migratory cycle of the Red-backed Shrike Lanius collurio, a trans-equatorial Eurasian-African passerine migrant. We tested differences between autumn and spring migration for nine individuals. Duration of migration between breeding and winter sites was significantly longer in autumn (average 96 days) when compared with spring (63 days). This difference was explained by much longer staging periods during autumn (71 days) in Sahelian sub-Sahara than spring (9 days). Between staging periods, the birds travelled faster during autumn (356 km d–1) than during spring (233 km d–1).

Yosef, R. and Markovets, M. (2009) Spring Bird Migration Phenology in Eilat, Israel. ZooKeys 31: 193-210 International Birding and Research Centre in Eilat, Eilat, Israel 2 Zoological Institute RAS, St.Petersburg 199034, Russia email:  Analysis of the mean date of spring migration for 34 species of birds at Eilat, Israel, revealed that the earlier a species migrates through Eilat, the greater is the inter-annual variation in the total time of its passage, such as weather conditions on the African continent or global climatic processes in the Northern hemisphere. Sylvia hortensis show a strong positive correlation (rs=-0.502) of initial capture date with calendar years, whereas other species such as Sylvia nisoria and Muscicapa striata display an insignificant trend. Passer moabiticus and Lanius collurio are positively correlated regarding initial arrival date and medians of spring migration.


Migration – Afrotropical

Boshoff, A., Barkhuysen, A., Brown, G. and Michael, M. (2009). Evidence of partial migratory behaviour by the Cape Griffon Gyps coprotheres Ostrich 80(3) 129–133 Centre for African Conservation Ecology, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, PO Box 77000, Port Elizabeth 6031, South Africa E-mail: Analysis of opportunistically obtained Cape Griffon distributional data from the Eastern Cape a survey of landowners / managers in the so-called East Cape Midlands, and systematic counts (over 12 consecutive months) at two roost sites in the Midlands area showed movement away from the breeding site season in the non-breeding season (November–March).  The species is considered a partial migrant.



Cizek, A. (2011) Habitat selection by the Southern (Mashona) Hyliota Hyliota australis in southern Africa: a stand resolution, hierarchical approach OSTRICH 82(3): 185–200 (Richmond, UK, E-mail:  The considerable variation in miombo ecosystem composition, physiognomy and functioning influence its occurrence at all scales. While available data over such a vast area have proved useful for example in identifying the importance of ecosystems dominated by Brachystegia spiciformis there is a dire shortage of data describing the diversity of miombo ecosystems, which hinders a fuller understanding. There is a need for: (1) a hierarchical classification and (2) relatively fine-resolution mapping of the ecosystems of south-central Africa – together ‘an ecosystem inventory’. 

Cooper, R.G., Horbańczuk, J.O., Villegas-Vizcaíno, R., Sebei, S.K., Mohammed, A.E.F. and Mahrose, K.M. (2010). Wild ostrich (Struthio camelus) ecology and physiology Tropical Animal Health and Production 42(3):363-373 Physiology Division, Birmingham City University, Egbaston Campus, 030 Bevan House, Westbourne Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham, B15 3TN, UK. Abstract This work discusses some of the important considerations of wild ostrich evolution, behaviour and ecology, including activity of ostriches; feeding and water needs; sexual maturity; egg laying and natural incubation; selected physiological parameters; and predation. There is an immediate and urgent need to conserve and protect the rapidly declining populations of wild ostriches.

Cooper, R.G., Mahrose, J. O., Horbańczuk, R., Villegas-Vizcaíno, K. Sebei and Mohammed, A.E.F (2009). The wild ostrich (Struthio camelus): a review Tropical Animal Health and Production 41(8): 1669-1678 Physiology Division, Birmingham City University, 704 Baker Building, Franchise Street, Perry Barr, Birmingham, B42 2SU, UK Email: Abstract The aim of the current report was to study the literature pertinent to wild populations of ostriches and their ecological and behavioural adaptations in the wild. Selected areas included palaeontology; ostrich distribution; conservation status and relationships with humans and habitat.

Irwin M.P.S.(2011) Ecological constraints on the distribution of the Speckled Mousebird, an invasive species in Harare. Honeyguide 57(1): 22-24. (Harare, Zimbabwe email: Colius striatus spread into Harare in the 1980s but relations with Urocolius indicus are unclear.

Majid, K., Gilbert, B.I. and Jeremiah, L.S. (2011), Role of Acacia and Erythrina trees in forest regeneration by vertebrate seed dispersers in Kibale National Park, Uganda. African Journal of Ecology, 49: 189–198. Department of Zoology, Makerere University, PO Box 7062, Kampala, Uganda E-mail:, Vertebrate animals were found to be the major seed dispersers in grasslands of Kibale. We concluded that forests that establish below crowns of savannah trees will be more diverse than those in treeless areas and that crown size is more important than distance from natural forest in facilitating regeneration. Furthermore, A. sieberiana could be more suitable in facilitating natural regeneration, while animals have proved to be vital for regeneration. Bycanistes subcylindricus, Corythaeola cristata and Streptopelia semitorquata.

Mulotwa, M., Louette, M., Dudu, A., Upoki, A. and Fuller, R.A. (2010). Congo Peafowl use both primary and regenerating forest in Salonga National Park, Democratic Republic of Congo Ostrich: 81 (1) : 1–6. Laboratoire LEGERA, Département d’Ecologie et Gestion des Ressources Animales et Végétales, Faculté des Sciences (Biologie), Université de Kisangani, BP 2012, Kisangani, Democratic Republic of Congo E-mail: Secondary signs of Afropavo congensis presence were significantly more frequent in secondary than in primary forest, and 19 of the 31 sightings of birds were in secondary forest. Microhabitats used by the birds differed between forest types, with those in secondary forest being closer to the nearest watercourse, having fewer large trees, and lower plant species richness. In addition, fewer taxonomic groups were found in peafowl droppings collected in secondary forest.

Nkwabi, A. K., Sinclair, A. R. E., Metzger, K. L. and Mduma, S. A. R. (2011) Disturbance, species loss and compensation: Wildfire and grazing effects on the avian community and its food supply in the Serengeti Ecosystem, Tanzania. Austral Ecology, 36: 403–412. Centre for Biodiversity Research, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, v6t 1z4, Canada. Email: Results showed first that both bird species richness and abundance increased after both types of disturbance, but burnt sites showed a greater increase than that for grazed sites. Second, there was a change in bird species composition with disturbance. The functionally equivalent Calandrella athensis was replaced by the Calandrella cinerea. Changes in bird abundance did not occur through an increase in arthropod abundance but rather through a change in the grass structure making food more accessible.

van Niekerk, J.H. (2011). Observations of Red-billed Spurfowl Pternistis adspersus in the arid Molopo Nature Reserve, North West Province, South Africa. Chinese Birds 2(3) 117-124. Department of Environmental Sciences, College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, University of South Africa, PO Box 392, Pretoria 0003, South Africa.  Red-billed Spurfowl are sparsely distributed Molopo Nature Reserve and mainly occur in clusters near man-made waterholes. Waterholes provide water and food found in and around antelope droppings. The movement of the Red-billed Spurfowl between waterholes over short distances of 2–5 km was probably encouraged by the sinking of more boreholes since the 1980s. Low rainfall that results in limited insects is probably the single most important factor limiting populations of the Red-billed Spurfowl in South Africa. 



Bamford, A.J., Monadjem, A., Diekmann. M. and Hardy, I.C.W. 2009. Development of Non-Explosive-Based Methods for Mass Capture of Vultures South African Journal of Wildlife Research 39(2):202-208. Department of Biology, University of Swaziland, Private Bag 4, Kwaluseni, Swaziland E-mail: We describe the construction of methods of mass capture that do not need explosives, including a cannon-net powered by compressed air and a walk-in trap, and test these on Old World vultures (Accipitridae, subfamily Aegypiinae). The walk-in trap proved more effective for capturing birds than any cannon-net method, but suffers from a lack of portability and a long construction time.

Béchet, A,, Rendón-Martos, M., Rendón, M.A., Amat, J.A. & Johnson A.Rr. & Gauthier-Clerc, M. (2012) Global economy interacts with climate change to jeopardize species conservation: the case of the greater flamingo in the Mediterranean and West Africa. Environmental Conservation 39 : pp 1-3  Centre de Recherche de la Tour du Valat, Le Sambuc, 13200 Arles, France e-mail: The conservation of many species (eg Phoenicopterus ruber) depends on sustainable economic activities that shape their habitats. The economic use of these anthropogenic habitats may change quickly owing to world trade globalization, market reorientations, price volatility or shifts in subsidy policies. The recent financial crisis has produced a global impact on the world economy. 

Buij, R., Van Der Goes, D., De Iongh, H. H., Gagare, S., Haccou, P., Komdeur, J. and De Snoo, G. (2012), Interspecific and intraspecific differences in habitat use and their conservation implications for Palaearctic harriers on Sahelian wintering grounds. Ibis, 154: 96–110. Institute of Environmental Sciences, Leiden University, Einsteinweg 2, 2300 RA Leiden, The Netherlands. Email: Circus aeruginosus, Circus macrourus Circus pygargus on a floodplain system in northern Cameroon  showed sexual differences in foraging preference related to land use, particularly in the most sexually dimorphic Pallid Harrier, and evidence that juveniles used different habitats to adults.  we found limited evidence for interspecific foraging segregation. Food partitioning by prey mass was related to harrier body mass and facilitated by a diverse availability of prey on human-transformed floodplains. Anticipated further large-scale conversion of floodplain habitat into predominantly desiccated grasslands raises concerns about the survival of wintering harriers.

Donald, P.F. and 8 others (2010). Rapid declines in habitat quality and population size of the Liben (Sidamo) Lark Heteromirafra sidamoensis necessitate immediate conservation action. Bird Conservation International 20:1-12 Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, The Lodge, Sandy, Bedfordshire SG19 2DL, UK e-mail: The Critically Endangered Liben Lark is known only from the Liben Plain of southern Ethiopia. In both 2007 and 2009, birds were associated with areas with greater than average grass cover, and in 2007 with areas of higher grass. However, between 2007 and 2009 there was a significant decline in grass cover and height, a 40% decline in number of birds recorded along repeated transects, and a contraction of 38% in the occupied area of the Liben Plain. Clearing encroaching scrub to increase grassland area and reduce grazing pressure have the full and active support of local pastoralists.

Deacon, N.R. (2010) Rehabilitation of raptors found in the City of Harare and its vicinity over nine years. GABAR 21(1 & 2): 20-25. (Zimbabwe Falconer's Club PO Box 2986 Harare Zimbabwe email: Lophaetus occipitalis; Circaetus pectoralis; Falco peregrinus; Falco biarmicus; Asio capensis; Bubo africanus.

Faulquier, L., Fontaine, R., Vidal, E., Salamolard, M. and Le Corre, M.(2009) Feral Cats Felis catus Threaten the Endangered Endemic Barau's Petrel Pterodroma baraui at Reunion Island (Western Indian Ocean) Waterbirds 32(2):330-336 *Corresponding author; E-mail: Results from the analysis of 217 scat (333 prey items) showed that Barau's Petrel were the most common prey of feral cats, followed by introduced rodents. Numerous dead birds at breeding colonies that had been killed by cats were found, 58% of the birds were adults. A control of cats at breeding colonies is urgently needed to save this species from extinction.

Mihoub, Gimenez, O., Pilard, P. and Sarrazina, F (2010). Challenging conservation of migratory species: Sahelian rainfalls drive first-year survival of the vulnerable Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni. Biological Conservation 134(4): 839-847 Université Pierre et Marie Curie, UMR 7204 MNHN-CNRS-UPMC “Conservation des Espèces, Restauration et Suivi des Populations”, CP 51, 61 rue Buffon, F-75005 Paris, France.Survival was time-varying for juveniles (geometric mean: 0.499 ± 0.021) but constant – and higher – for adults (0.718 ± 0.013). Yearling survival probabilities were strongly correlated with rainfalls in the Sahel, suggesting a high dependence of juvenile upon the wintering conditions.

Olupot, W., Mugabe, H. and Plumptre, A.J. (2010). Species conservation on human-dominated landscapes: the case of crowned crane breeding and distribution outside protected areas in Uganda. African Journal of Ecology 48(1): 119 – 125 Wildlife Conservation Society - Uganda Programme and Albertine Rift Programme, Plot 802, Mitala, Kiwafu Rd., Kansanga, PO Box 7487, Kampala, Uganda *E-mail: From January 2005 to January 2006, we assessed the status of crowned crane Balearica regulorum breeding and distribution in the country. We established occurrence of 21 nests during the study period, and crane use of 27 out of 30 districts surveyed. Crane harassment and trapping were common during breeding, as was crop damage by cranes.

Otieno, P.O., Lalah, J.O., Virani, M., Jondiko, I.O. and Schramm, K.W. (2011) Carbofuran use and abuse in Kenya: residues in soils, plants, water courses and the African White-backed Vultures Gyps africanus found dead. The Environmentalist 31(4): 382-39 Department of Chemical Sciences & Technology, Kenya. Polytechnic University College, PO Box 52428-00200, Cry Square, Narote, Kenya,  email: 187 African White-backed Vultures Gyps africanus and hyenas were found dead led to  forensic analysis of residues in beaks, feet and crop content of the dead vultures supported allegations of Furadan involvement in wildlife poisoning and high-mortality cases of African White-backed Vultures Gyps africanus in Kenya.

Whytock, R.C. and Morgan, B.J. (2010) The commercial trade in bushmeat potentially threatens raptor populations in the Ebo forest, Cameroon. GABAR 21(1 & 2): 1-7 (Ebo Forest Research Project, BP3055 Messa Cameroon email: Stephanoaetus coronatus; Spizaetus africanus; Urotriorchis macrourus. 


General Biology

Bateman, P. W. and Fleming, P. A. (2011) Who are you looking at? Hadeda Ibises use direction of gaze, head orientation and approach speed in their risk assessment of a potential predator.  Journal of Zoology, 285: 316–323.  Department of Zoology and Entomology, University of Pretoria, Pretoria 0002, South Africa. Email: Trish Fleming, School of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences, Murdoch University, Murdoch, WA, Australia Email: Bostrychia hagedash were approached tangentially 112 times by a human who either had the head and eyes directed towards (65 approaches) or directed away from (47 approaches) the birds to test the hypothesis that the direction of the observer's attention informs alert distance (AD) and flight initiation distance (FID) in these birds. Direction of attention had a significant effect on AD and FID as well as the likelihood of taking flight and alarm calling by hadedas, with birds appearing to associate attention directed towards them as an indication of increased risk. Hadedas were able to differentiate between the direction of attention of an approaching human, whether or not there were multiple other humans in the near vicinity. 

Bonnevie, B. (2010). Relative feather mass indices: are feather masses needed to estimate the percentage of new feather mass grown for moult regression models?xx OSTRICH 81(1): 59–62. Information Technology Division, Rhodes University, PO Box 94, Grahamstown 6140, South Africa E-mail: It is here tested if feather mass indices may be sufficient replacements for species-specific feather masses. Thirty-five species of birds with known primary feather masses were divided into four wing-shape groups, and a feather mass index was built for each group. Within each group, comparisons were made between estimates of moult parameters using the moult index with those using the known primary feather masses. Within groups there were no significant differences between any of the moult estimates.

Bonnevie, B. and Oschadleus, H.D. (2010). Timing of primary wing moult in sexually dimorphic passerines from the Western Cape, South Africa OSTRICH 81(1): 63–67 Information Technology Division, Rhodes University, PO Box 94, Grahamstown 6140, South Africa. Sunbirds, weavers and canaries males generally started moult before the females, whereas this was not so for other species. In the species where males started moult before the females, the standard deviation of the start of moult was generally smaller in the males and the males generally took longer to moult.

Cox, D. T. C., Brandt, M. J., McGregor, R., Ottosson, U., Stevens, M. C. and Cresswell, W. (2011) Patterns of seasonal and yearly mass variation in West African tropical savannah birds. Ibis 153: 672–683 (School of Biology, University of St Andrews, Bute Building, St Andrews, Fife KY16 9TS, UK  Email: Using data collected from 47 species of birds caught over a 10-year period in a tropical savannah region in West Africa we tested for seasonal variation in mass in response to a predictable, strongly seasonal tropical climate. Many species (91%) showed seasonal variation in mass, and this was often in a clear annual pattern that was constant across the years. Many species (89%) varied their mass in response to seasonally predictable rainfall. Annual variation in mass was also important (45% of species).

Cumming, G.S., Hockey, P.A.R., Bruinzeel, L.W. and Du Plessis, M.A. (2008) Wild bird movements and avian influenza risk mapping in southern Africa. Ecology and Society 13(2): 26. Percy FitzPatrick Institute, DST/NRF Center of Excellence, University of Cape Town, Rondebosch, 7701, South Africa. The primary natural carriers of influenza viruses are the anatids, i.e., ducks. Here we present a simple, spatially explicit risk analysis for avian influenza transmission by wild ducks highlighting the two largest cities, Johannesburg and Cape Town, although parts of Kwazulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape also as high-risk scores.

Davies, G.B.P., Symes, C.T., Boon, R.G.C.  and Campbell, H.A. (2011) Inferred hybridisation, sympatry and movements of Chorister Robin-Chat Cossypha dichroa and Red-capped Robin-Chat C. natalensis OSTRICH  82(3): 231–241(Ditsong National Museum of Natural History, PO Box 413, Pretoria 0001, South Africa E-mail: Sympatry at a fine scale was investigated at Vernon Crookes Nature Reserve, KwaZulu-Natal, using observational data over 30 years (1978–2008) and intensive mist-netting during two field-trips in June and October 2010. Both robin-chat species were found throughout the year and occurred in the same forest patches. Inferred hybrids are known from five different forest patches in Vernon Crookes, three with photographic evidence. During winter an increase in Chorister  Robin-Chat numbers was detectable both from mist-netting and checklist data. An increase of Red-capped Robin-Chats was observed from mist-netting and more equivocally from checklist data in spring. Hybridisation may be more common along the extensive area of sympatry than currently realised.

Edler, A.U. and Friedl, T.W.P. (2010). Individual quality and carotenoid-based plumage ornaments in male red bishops (Euplectes orix): plumage is not all that counts Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 99, 384–397. Animal Physiology and Behaviour Group, Institute for Biology and Environmental Sciences, Carl von Ossietzky University Oldenburg, PO Box 2503, 26111 Oldenburg, Germany E-mail: Euplectes orix shows a very complex relationships between plumage traits and both heterophil-to-lymphocyte ratio and blood parasite load varying considerably among seasons, suggesting a strong influence of environmental conditions. Furthermore, overall condition of males strongly affected the association pattern between plumage traits and other factors, with males in bad condition being forced to allocate resources away from plumage elaboration to body maintenance. Thus, females cannot rely on plumage characteristics alone to gather information on male quality.

Garcia-del-Rey, E. (2010). Age and sex dimorphism in the Canary Blue Tit Cyanistes teneriffae teneriffae on the island of Tenerife, Canary Islands OSTRICH 81(1): 51–57 Departamento de Ecología, Facultad de Biología, Universidad de La Laguna, 38260 La Laguna, Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain E-mail: First-year birds had similar bill shape to adults but differed in wing length, tarsus, tail and mass, being smaller on average. A high degree of sexual size dimorphism is reported, males being on average larger than females for wing length, bill length, bill depth and tarsus. For practical sexing in the field it is recommended to use wing length as a reliable sexing criterion (wing length>62.5 = male, 96% correctly classified).

Geerts, S. and Pauw, A. (2011) Easy technique for assessing pollination rates in the genus Erica reveals road impact on bird pollination in the Cape fynbos, South Africa. Austral Ecology 36: 656–662. (Department of Botany and Zoology, Stellenbosch University, Private Bag X1, Matieland 7602, South Africa (Email: Anthobaphes violacea. We document the impact of a two-lane tar road on pollination by birds in the Cape fynbos of South Africa. Experiments with caged birds showed that the status of the anther ring (broken / perfect) of Erica indicated a sunbird visit with 92% accuracy, while field surveys confirmed anther ring status also serves as a proxy for pollen receipt to stigmas. Using this technique we determined pollination rate in Erica perspicua at three distances from the road (0–10, 20–30 and 40–50 m). After controlling for flower colour, robbing rate and plant density, significantly fewer anther rings were disturbed in close proximity to the road. 

Martin, T. E., Lloyd, P., Bosque, C., Barton, D. C., Biancucci, A. L., Cheng, Y.-R. and Ton, R. (2011), GROWTH RATE VARIATION AMONG PASSERINE SPECIES IN TROPICAL AND TEMPERATE SITES: AN ANTAGONISTIC INTERACTION BETWEEN PARENTAL FOOD PROVISIONING AND NEST PREDATION RISK. Evolution, 65: 1607–1622.  U. S. Geological Survey Montana Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit, University of Montana, Montana 59812 E-mail:  Passerine birds represent an intriguing case because differing theories yield the possibility of an antagonistic interaction between nest predation risk and food delivery rates on evolution of growth rates. We test this possibility among 64 Passerine species studied on three continents, including tropical and north and south temperate latitudes. Growth rates increased strongly with nestling predation rates within, but not between, sites. The importance of nest predation was further emphasized by revealing hidden allometric scaling effects. Nestling predation risk also was associated with reduced total feeding rates and per-nestling feeding rates within each site.

Raihani, N.J., Nelson-Flower, M.J., Moyes, K., Browning, L.E. and Ridley, A.R. (2010). Synchronous provisioning increases brood survival in cooperatively breeding pied babblers. Journal of Animal Ecology 79(1); 44 – 52 Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge, Downing Street, Cambridge CB2 3EJ, UK E-mail: We propose a novel explanation for provisioning synchrony: it increases brood survival by decreasing the number of temporally separate nest visits and accordingly the chance that the nest will be detected by predators. Using cooperatively breeding pied babblers, we showed experimentally that provisioners synchronized nest visits by waiting for another provisioner before returning to the nest. Brood survival increased with provisioning synchrony. Provisioners were more likely to synchronize feeding visits for older nestlings as they were louder and possibly more conspicuous to predators. Finally, provisioners in large groups were more likely to wait for other provisioners and synchronized a higher proportion of all visits than those in smaller groups.

Ridley, A.R. and Thompson, A.M. (2011) Heterospecific egg destruction by Wattled Starlings and the impact on Pied Babbler reproductive success OSTRICH 82(3): 201–205 (Department of Biological Sciences, Macquarie University, 209 Culloden Road, Marsfield, Sydney, NSW 2122, Australia E-mail: Turdoides bicolor incubation success decreases significantly following the arrival of Creatophora cinerea at the study site, and we provide video evidence of Wattled Starlings destroying Pied Babbler eggs. Wattled Starlings never consumed the eggs & this appears to represent a form of resource competition.

Rodriquez, B., Siverio, F., Siverio, M & Rodriquez,A. (2011). Variable plumage coloration of breeding Barbary Falcons Falco (peregrinus) peregrinoides in the Canary Islands: do other Peregrine Falcon subspecies also occur in the archipelago? BULLETIN OF THE BRITISH ORNITHOLOGISTS´ > CLUB 131(3): 140 -153. Detailed examination of breeding falcons in the Canaries show most show Barbary characteristics but some show characteristics of Falco peregrinus brookei

Spottiswoode, C.N., Stryjewski, K., Quader, S., Colebrook-Robjent, J.F.R. and Sorenson, M.D. (2011)  Ancient host specificity within a single species of brood parasitic bird. Proc. N at. Acad. Sci.  108 (43): 17738-17742 (Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 3EJ, United Kingdom; E-mail: Parasites that exploit multiple hosts often experience diversifying selection for host-specific adaptations. This can result in multiple strains of host specialists coexisting within a single parasitic species. A long-standing conundrum is how such sympatric host races can be maintained within a single parasitic species in the face of interbreeding among conspecifics specializing on different hosts. Striking examples are seen in certain avian brood parasites such as cuckoos, many of which show host-specific differentiation in traits such as host egg mimicry. Exploiting a Zambian egg collection amassed over several decades and supplemented by recent fieldwork, we show that the brood parasitic Greater Honeyguide Indicator indicator exhibits host-specific differentiation in both egg size and egg shape. Genetic analysis of honeyguide eggs and chicks show that two highly divergent mitochondrial DNA lineages are associated with ground- and tree-nesting hosts, respectively, indicating perfect fidelity to two mutually exclusive sets of host species for millions of years. Despite their age and apparent adaptive diversification, however, these ancient lineages are not cryptic species; a complete lack of differentiation in nuclear genes shows that mating between individuals reared by different hosts is sufficiently frequent to prevent speciation. These results indicate that host specificity is maternally inherited, that host-specific adaptation among conspecifics can be maintained without reproductive isolation, and that host specificity can be remarkably ancient in evolutionary terms.

Spottiswoode, C.N. and Stevens, M. (2011) How to evade a coevolving brood parasite: egg discrimination versus egg variability as host defences. Proc Nat Acad Sci 278 no. 1724 3566-3573 Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge, Downing Street, Cambridge CB2 3EJ, UK email: We compared three highly variable host species of the Afrotropical Cuckoo Finch Anomalospiza imberbis, using egg rejection experiments and modelling of avian colour and pattern vision. We show that each differed in their level of polymorphism, in the visual cues they used to reject foreign eggs, and in their degree of discrimination. The most polymorphic host had the crudest discrimination, whereas the least polymorphic was most discriminating. The third species, not currently parasitized, was intermediate for both defences.

Symes, C.T. and Woodborne, S.M. (2011) Variation in carbon and nitrogen stable isotope ratios in flight feathers of a moulting White-bellied Sunbird Cinnyris talatala OSTRICH  82(3): 163–166. (School of Animal, Plant and Environmental Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Private Bag 3, Wits 2050, South Africa E-mail: We measured δ13C and δ15N isotope signatures in flight feathers of a White-bellied Sunbird to assess the value of using stable isotopes of feathers in avian dietary studies. Significant variation in δ13C and δ15N isotope values of flight feathers (range = 3.1% and 2.7%, respectively) indicated that the source of carbon (i.e. C3 or CAM) and trophic level position shifted significantly during the flight feather moult period. 

Voelker, G., Outlaw, R.K., Rauri, C and Bowie, K. 2009 Pliocene forest dynamics as a primary driver of African bird speciation Global Ecology and Biogeography 19(1): 111 – 121 Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences and Texas Cooperative Wildlife Collections, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843, USA. E-mail: Phylogenetic divergence dates coincide with a single period of lowland forest retraction in the late Pliocene, suggesting that most montane speciation resulted from the rapid isolation of populations of forest robins (Cossypha, Sheppardia, Pseudalethe, Erithacus, Pogonocichla, Stiphrornis, Swynnertonia and Xenocopsychus) by convergence on the same topology. We further show that lowland forest robins are no older than their montane relatives.

Warui, C.N., Erlwanger, K.H. and Skadhauge, E. (2009). Gross anatomical and histomorphological observations on the terminal rectum and the cloaca in the Ostrich Struthio camelus. Ostrich 80 (3): 185–191 School of Physiology, Faculty of Medicine, University of the Witwatersrand, 7 York Road, Parktown 2193, South Africa E-mail: Abstract: the anatomy of the terminal rectum and cloaca of the Ostrich Struthio camelus was studied in four ostriches by gross anatomical dissection and light microscopy. The unique muscle arrangement could contribute to the dynamics of the terminal rectum that allow for separate defecation and micturition. We also propose a schema for this phenomenon that for birds is unique to ostriches.



Malan, G., Seoraj-Pillai, M.N. and du Plessis, M.A. (2009). Alarm calls of Bronze Mannikins communicate predator size to familiar conspecifics. Ostrich 80 (3): 177–184 Department of Nature Conservation, Tshwane University of Technology, Private Bag X680, Pretoria 0001, South Africa E-mail: Four groups of Spermestes cucullatus were captured with mist nets from four areas in Durban (i.e. original groups) and randomly mixed (i.e. assorted groups). These groups were exposed to latex terrestrial snakes and mounted aerial raptors, and their alarm calls and predator response behaviours recorded. The Bronze Mannikins were able to discriminate between predators of different sizes, and increased their calling rate and decreased the end frequency of the alarm call in response to larger predators.

Radford, A. N. (2012) Post-allogrooming reductions in self-directed behaviour are affected by role and status in the green woodhoopoe Biol. Lett. 23 February 8(1): 24-27 School of Biological Sciences, University of Bristol, Woodland Road, Bristol BS8 1UG, UK email: Cooperatively breeding green woodhoopoes Phoeniculus purpureus, involvement in allogrooming is followed by a reduction in self-grooming by both recipients and donors, but that the former exhibit a greater decrease. Moreover, I demonstrate for the first time that the dominance status of the allogrooming participant is important, with subordinate group members reducing subsequent self-grooming to a greater extent than the dominant pair.

Ridley, A. R. (2012) Invading together: the benefits of coalition dispersal in a cooperative bird Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 66(1): 77-83. in Turdoides squamiceps coalition dispersal appears to be an effective strategy to ensure the success of dispersal attempts, with coalitions more successful than lone individuals at taking over the breeding position in a new group.   


Nests and Breeding Behaviour

Chokri, M.A. and Selmi, S. (2011) Factors Affecting Colony Size and Reproductive Success of Little Egret Egretta garzetta in the Sfax Salina, Tunisia Waterbirds 34(2): 234-238 (Département des Sciences de la Vie, Faculté des Sciences de Gabès Gabès Zrig, 6072 — Gabès, TunisiaE-mail: The relationship between breeding site characteristics and breeding parameters of Little Egrets were investigated in the Sfax salt marshes (salina), Tunisia. Thirty colonies distributed among 14 breeding sites were monitored weekly during four breeding seasons (2004–2007). The number of breeding pairs varied among years in parallel with the number of detected colonies. Colony size was positively related to breeding site surface area and vegetation cover, while site isolation was the most important predictor of chick productivity. The results suggest that Little Egret colony size in the Sfax salina is determined by availability of nesting places, while chick productivity is controlled by accessibility of breeding sites to terrestrial predators, i.e. dogs. 

Hanane, S. (2011) Breeding ecology of Kentish Plovers Charadrius alexandrinus in rocky and sandy habitats of north-west Morocco (North Africa) OSTRICH 2011, 82(3): 217–223 (Centre de Recherche Forestière, Avenue Omar Ibn El Khattab, BP 763, Rabat-Agdal 10050, Morocco E-mail: On the north-west coast of Morocco, egg laying by Kentish Plovers Charadrius alexandrinus occurred from late March to early June, with peaks in early April and mid May. Nests in rocky habitat were significantly closer to each other than were those in sandy habitat. Higher human disturbance was evident in sandy habitat, whereas tidal flooding had an important impact on nests in rocky habitat. The Moroccan Kentish Plover population has similar breeding parameters and faces comparable threats to those known from populations on the northern border of the Mediterranean Sea and at other localities in southern Europe.

Crawford, R.J.M., Underhill, L.G., Altwegg, R., Dyer, B.M. and Upfold, L. (2009). Trends in numbers of Kelp Gulls Larus dominicanus off western South Africa, 1978–2007. Ostrich 80 (3): 139–143. Marine & Coastal Management, Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, Private Bag X2, Rogge Bay 8012, South Africa. Abstract: The number of Larus dominicanus breeding at 11 islands in South Africa’s Western Cape province increased after removal of controls on gulls and associated with supplementary food during the period 1978 to 1999–2000 and then decreased resulting from predation of gull chicks at some colonies by an increased population of Pelecanus onocrotalus.

Kafutshi, R.K. and Komanda, J.A. (2011) The impact of soil texture on the selection of nesting sites by the Malachite Kingfisher (Alcedinidae: Alcedo cristata Pallas 1764) OSTRICH 82(3): 243–2. (Faculty of Science, University of Liège, 27 Rectorat Street, Sart Tilman, 4000 Liège, Belgium E-mail: 56 samples from the Kinshasa area were analysed. Three standardised particle size fractions were determined in all groups of samples (percentage of sand, clay and silt). Mean particle percentage of soil samples from banks occupied by Malachite Kingfishers averaged 10.8 ± 6.1 of silt, 11.6 ± 6.5 of clay and 81.4 ± 11.4 of sand. A significant difference was found in the proportion of clay between banks with and without kingfisher nests. Soil texture determines the selection of nesting sites in the Malachite Kingfisher. 

Ribeiro, Â. M., Lloyd, P., Feldheim, K. A. and Bowie, R. C. K. (2012), Microgeographic socio-genetic structure of an African cooperative breeding passerine revealed: integrating behavioural and genetic data. Molecular Ecology, 21: 662–672. Department of Integrative Biology and Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, University of California, 3101 Valley Life Science Building, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA E-mail: Our results revealed that male and female Erythropygia coryphaeus do not have symmetrical roles in structuring the population. Males are extremely philopatric and tend to delay dispersal until they gain a breeding position within a radius of two territories around the natal site. By contrast, females dispersed over larger distances, as soon as they reach independence. This resulted in male neighbourhoods characterized by high genetic relatedness. The long-distance dispersal strategy of females ensured that Karoo scrub-robins do not pair with relatives thereby compensating for male philopatry caused by cooperation. The observed female-biased strategy seems to be the most prominent mechanism to reduce the risk of inbreeding that characterizes social breeding system. 

Ridley, A. R. and Thompson, A. M. (2012), The effect of Jacobin Cuckoo Clamator jacobinus parasitism on the body mass and survival of young in a new host species. Ibis, 154: 195–199.  Department of Biological Sciences, Macquarie University, NSW 2122, Australia Email: Turdoides bicolor is one of the largest recorded hosts for Jacobin Cuckoos Clamator jacobinus. Host young tend to survive the nestling period and maintain similar body mass to host young in unparasitized broods. However, host young were less likely to survive to independence than young raised in unparasitized nests, suggesting a post-fledging reproductive cost to hosts.

Sedláček, H.O., Tószögyová, A., Albrecht, T., Ferenc, M., Jelínek, V. and Storch, D. (2011) Geographic variation in avian clutch size and nest predation risk along a productivity gradient in South Africa Ostrich 82 (3) : 175–183 ( Department of Ecology, Faculty of Science, Charles University in Prague, Viničná 7, CZ-128 44 Praha 2, Czech Republic E-mail: We studied predation on artificial ground nests along a large-scale geographic gradient in South Africa characterised by increasing productivity from the deserts in the west to humid savannas in the east, and calculated mean clutch sizes of birds occurring in atlas quadrates surrounding our study sites. Clutch sizes generally increased with increasing productivity and seasonality. The least productive desert site was characterised also by the highest predation rate, whereas all the other sites located in savannas revealed much lower and more or less constant predation rate. We found no evidence for relationship between nest predation rates and clutch sizes of ground-nesting birds.

Senapathi, D. et al (2011) Climate change and the risks associated with delayed breeding in a tropical wild bird population Proc. R. Soc. B278 (1722): 3184-3190. (Centre for Agri-Environmental Research, University of Reading, Reading RG6 6AR, UK email: Here, we report the response to changing climate in a tropical wild bird population using a long-term dataset on a formerly critically endangered island endemic Falco punctatus. We show that the frequency of spring rainfall affects the timing of breeding, with birds breeding later in wetter springs. Delays in breeding have consequences in terms of reduced reproductive success as birds get exposed to risks associated with adverse climatic conditions later on in the breeding season, which reduce nesting success. These results, combined with the fact that frequency of spring rainfall has increased by about 60 per cent in our study area since 1962, imply that climate change is exposing birds to the stochastic risks of late reproduction by causing them to start breeding relatively late in the season. 

Siverio, M., Siverio, F., Rodríguez, B. and Rodríguez, A. (2011) Long-term monitoring of an insular population of Barbary Falcon Falco peregrinus pelegrinoides OSTRICH  82(3): 225–230 (Constitución 17-3, E-38410 Los Realejos, Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain E-mail: The population increased constantly since the outset, from two pairs in 1993 to 12 in 2008. Mean density was 5.48 pairs per 100 km² and mean nearest neighbour distance was 3119 m. Considering the 79 breeding attempts analysed, the mean number of fledged young per territorial pair was 1.92, per laying pair was 2.0 (n = 76), and per successful pair was 2.24 (n = 68). All fledglings (brood size one to four) left the nest in the month of May.

Stanley, T.R. and Newmark, W.D. (2010) Estimating Length of Avian Incubation and Nestling Stages in Afrotropical Forest Birds from Interval-Censored Nest Records. Auk 127(1):79-85. U.S. Geological Survey, Fort Collins Science Center, 2150 Centre Avenue Building C, Fort Collins, Colorado 80526, USA. Smithornis capensis; Andropadus virens; Andropagus masukensis; Phyllastrephus cabanisi; Tersiphone viridis; Trochocerus albonatus; Batis mixta; Nectarinia olivacea. In the East Usambara Mountains in northeast Tanzania, we accumulated 1,002 nest records. Because our data were interval censored, we developed and applied two new statistical methods to estimate stage length. In the 8 species studied, the incubation stage lasted 9.6–21.8 days and the nestling stage 13.9–21.2 days. Combining these results with estimates of daily survival probability, we found that nest survival ranged from 6.0% to 12.5%.

Whittington-Jones, C.A. (2010) The foraging requirements of the African Grass Owl (Tyto capensis) : guesstimates, speculation & consolidation. GABAR 21(1 & 2): 26-40. (Gauteng Directorate of Nature Conservation, PO Box 8769, Johannesburg 2000 South Africa email: A minimum of 130 ha of roosting / breeding habitat and adjacent grassland connected via corridors to other habitat patches.


Food and Feeding Behaviour

Bamford, A.J., Monadjem, A. and Hardy, I.C.W. (2009). An effect of vegetation structure on carcass exploitation by vultures in an African savanna. Ostrich 80 (3): 129–133 All Out Africa Research Unit, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Swaziland, Private Bag 4, Kwaluseni, Swaziland E-mail: ara@uniswacc.uniswa.szGyps africanus were reluctant to land at carcasses from which the angle required to clear the surrounding vegetation on take-off was greater than 6°, and Gyps coprotheres were not observed on carcasses from which the required angle of take-off was greater than 4°. Increasing vegetation densities due to bush encroachment may therefore affect the two species to different extents.

Boyes, R.S. and Perrin, M.R. (2009). The feeding ecology of Meyer’s Parrot Poicephalus meyeri in the Okavango Delta, Botswana.Ostrich 80 (3): 153–164 Research Centre for African Parrot Conservation, School of Biological and Conservation Sciences, Private Bag X01, Scottsville 3209, South Africa E-mail: boyes@africaskyblue.orgPoicephalus meyeri ate 71 different food items from 37 tree species in 16 families closely tracking fruiting phenology, resulting in significant positive correlations between Levins’ niche breadth, rainfall and food resource availability. Four arthropods were also found. The most important tree species in their diet included (in order of magnitude): Kigelia africana, Diospyros mespiliformis, Combretum imberbe, Ficus sycomorus, Diospyros lycoides lycoides, Combretum hereroense and Berchemia discolor.

Boyes, R.S. and Perrin, M.R. (2009). Flocking Dynamics and Roosting Behaviour of Meyer's Parrot (Poicephalus meyeri) in the Okavango Delta, Botswana. African Zoology 44(2): 181–193. For most of the year, Meyer's parrots in the Okavango Delta do not form large feeding flocks, and groups larger than two or three are probably the result of opportunistic aggregation at favoured food items after dispersion from communal roosts. Meyer's parrots appear to be dependent on riverine forest, Acacia - Combretum marginal woodland and mopane woodland for roost sites in the Okavango Delta. They aggregated more during the breeding season due to their specialist nutritional requirements, and female dependence on food provisioning by the male parrots.

Brown, M., Downs, C.T. and Johnson, S.D. (2010). Concentration-Dependent Sugar Preferences of the Malachite Sunbird (Nectarinia famosa). Auk 127(1):151-155 School of Biological and Conservation Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Private Bag X01, Scottsville 3201, South Africa E-mail: Nectarinia famosa preferred hexose at low (5%) concentration and sucrose at high (25%) concentration; they showed no preference at 10%, 15%, and 20% concentrations. They also exhibited a strong preference for concentrated solutions, given a choice between 10%, 15%, 20%, and 25% sucrose solutions.

Collins, C.T., Anderson, M.D. and Johnson, D.N. (2010). Food of the Little Swift Apus affinis and African Black Swift Apus barbatus in South Africa OSTRICH 81(1): 45–50 Department of Biological Sciences, California State University, Long Beach, CA 90840, USA E-mail: Both swifts took a wide variety of aerial arthropods including spiders as well as 10 orders and 64 families of insects in the combined samples. Little Swift prey items at Kimberley averaged 3.2 mm in body length (SD = 1.6, n = 2 178) and ranged from 1.2 to 16.0 mm. Prey items of African Black Swifts at Kimberley averaged 4.4 mm (SD = 4.1, n = 185) with a range of 0.9 to 15.9 mm, and 2.8 mm (SD = 0.8, n = 2 099) at Makapansgat with a range of 1.2 to 10.8 mm. At Kimberley, African Black Swifts took more (8.3%) larger prey items (>8 mm), such as termites, than Little Swifts (2.3%).

Collins, C.T., Tella, J.L. and Colahan, B.D. (2009). Food habits of the Alpine Swift on two continents: intra- and interspecific comparisons Ardeola 56(2): 259-269. Email: The prey brought by Alpine Swifts Tachymarptis melba to their chicks in Switzerland, Spain and South Africa included a wide variety of arthropods, principally insects but also spiders. Insects comprised 10 orders and 79 families, the Homoptera, Diptera and Hymenoptera being the most often consumed usually between 1.3 and 29.6 mm, differing significantly in the median prey size of the three populations (5.12 - 8.81 mm).

Downs, C.T., Wellman, A.E. and Brown, M. (2010). Diet variations in plasma glucose concentrations of Malachite Sunbirds Nectarinia famosa. Journal of Ornithology 151(1): 235-239 School of Biological and Conservation Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Private Bag X01, Scottsville, Pietermaritzburg, 3209, South Africa email: We investigated plasma glucose concentrations of Malachite Sunbirds (Nectarinia famosa) to determine whether there was a circadian rhythm in plasma glucose and whether plasma glucose concentrations rose at lower temperatures. Plasma glucose concentration of Malachite Sunbirds were relatively high, between 13.6 and 21.4 mmol/L. Plasma glucose concentrations were higher at 5°C than at 25°C, and generally lower during the scotophase, particularly in the early hours of the morning.

Gbogbo, F., Oduro, W. and Oppong, S.K. (2008). Nature and pattern of lagoon fisheries resource utilisation and their implications for waterbird management in coastal Ghana African Journal of Aquatic Science 33(3): 211–222 Department of Wildlife and Range Management, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana E-mail: With the exception of small pelagic foraging fish-eating birds, human fishing practices in the lagoons were in direct competition with crab- and fish-eating birds, because of the overlap of same-sized fish and crabs, and also in indirect competition because many of the exploited fish and crabs were immature. Fishing practices were also in direct competition with food foraging by invertebrate-eating birds.

Jordaan, L. A., Johnson, S. D. and Downs, C. T. (2011) Digestion of fruit of invasive alien plants by three southern African avian frugivores. Ibis 153: 863–867. (School of Biological and Conservation Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Private Bag X01, Scottsville, Pietermaritzburg 3209, South Africa. Email:  Four fleshy-fruited plant species that are invasive in southern Africa were considered – Solanum mauritianum, Cinnamomum camphora, Lantana camara and Psidium guajava. Their fruits were fed to three common generalist frugivores – Onychognathus morio, Colius striatus and Pycnonotus tricolor – to determine the efficiency of digestion. Energetic parameters calculated for all fruit diets varied significantly between frugivore species. Speckled Mousebirds and Dark-capped Bulbuls maintained body mass and efficiently processed all four fruit types, whereas Red-winged Starlings only did so on C. camphora and S. mauritianum diets. 

Lobban, K., Downs, C.T. and Brown, M. (2010). Diet variations in plasma glucose concentration in some South African avian frugivores Emu 110(1) 66–70 School of Biological and Conservation Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Private Bag X01, Scottsville, Pietermaritzburg, 3209, South Africa. Email: PGlu of Onychognathus morio and Tauraco corythaix were highest after overnight fasting, whereas peak PGlu in Colius striatus and Zosterops virens were recorded at midday. The lowest PGlu was recorded after overnight fasting in Speckled Mousebirds whereas the lowest PGlu were recorded at midnight in the three other species. Whereas the Red-winged Starlings, Knysna Turacos and Cape White-eyes clearly increase their PGlu via the processes of gluconeogenesis, Speckled Mousebirds apparently do not.

Martin, G. R. and Portugal, S. J. (2011) Differences in foraging ecology determine variation in visual fields in ibises and spoonbills (Threskiornithidae) Ibis 153: 662–671. (Email: Plegadis ridgwayi; Geronticus eremita; Platalea alba and Platalea leucorodia employ tactile cues provided by bill-tip organs for prey detection. Visual fields of the two spoonbills were very similar but differed from those of the ibises, which also differed between themselves. In the spoonbills, there was a blind area below the bill produced by the enlarged spatulate bill tip. 

Martins, S., Freitas, R., Palma, L. and Beja, P. Diet of Breeding Ospreys in the Cape Verde Archipelago, North-western Africa Journal of Raptor Research 45(3):244-251 (CIBIO, Centro de Investigação em Biodiversidade e Recursos Genéticos, Campus Agrário de Vairão, Universidade do Porto, Vairão 4485-601, Portugal  Email address: pbeja@mail.icav.up.ptAbstract). We studied the diet of breeding Ospreys (Pandion haliaetus) in the Cape Verde archipelago during 2006, using prey remains recovered at 21 nests and perches on the islands of São Vicente, Santiago, Santa Luzia, Boavista, Branco and Raso. We identified a total of 1264 individual fish prey items of 35 species. The fish consumed were generally large, though there was wide variation in estimated length (20.7–62.2 cm) and weight (49–1117 g). A comparison of Osprey diet with Cape Verde fisheries suggested that the potential for conflict is low, due to minimal overlap in the primary species caught. 

Padilla, D. P., González-Castro, A. and Nogales, M. (2012), Significance and extent of secondary seed dispersal by predatory birds on oceanic islands: the case of the Canary archipelago. Journal of Ecology, 100: 416–427. Island Ecology and Evolution Research Group (IPNA-CSIC), C/Astrofísico Francisco Sánchez 3, 38206 La Laguna, Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain E-mail: From an examination of all the islands and their suitable habitats, we found seeds from 78 plant species inside 2098 Lanius meridionalis and 5304 Falco tinnunculus pellets. A greater number of species were secondarily dispersed by kestrels (76; 97%) than by shrikes (26; 34%).Seventy per cent of these identified species were fleshy fruit-bearing plants and 84% of the interactions took place in open habitats, close to coastal areas. Kestrels can disperse a greater number and variety of seeds because they predate larger lizards that potentially carry greater seed loads. 

Pietersen, D.W. and Symes, C.T. (2010). Assessing the diet of Amur Falcon Falco amurensis and Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni using stomach content analysis OSTRICH 81(1): 39–44 Department of Zoology and Entomology, University of Pretoria, Pretoria 0002, South Africa e-mail: Interpretations of diet were made by considering (1) biomass of dietary items and (2) presence / absence of dietary items in the stomachs analysed. A single beetle (Coleoptera) species, cf. Heteronychus arator, made up the majority of stomach contents when using both methods. Other Coleopteran taxa did not comprise a significant proportion of the biomass in each stomach but were well represented in the stomachs of many individuals. Taxa less represented included Rodentia, Solifugae, Orthoptera, Hymenoptera and other unidentified prey items.

Rutledge, S., Boyes, S. and Perrin, M.R. (2010). Patterns of daily activity of Meyer’s Parrot (Poicephalus meyeri) in the Okavango Delta, Botswana xx Emu 110(1) 54–65 DST/NRF Centre of Excellence, Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology, University of Cape Town, Rondebosch, Cape Town, South Africa. Email: boyes@africaskyblue.orgPoicephalus meyeri Feeding activity patterns of Meyer’s Parrots at population level were significantly influenced by high and low temperatures throughout the year. A bimodal pattern of daily flight-activity was, however, a function of communal roosting and dispersal for foraging as central-place foragers.

Ryan, P.G., Pichegru, L., Ropert-Coudert, Y., Grémillet, D. and Kato, A. (2010). On a wing and a prayer: the foraging ecology of breeding Cape cormorants. Journal of Zoology 280(1): 25 – 32 Percy FitzPatrick Institute, NRF Centre of Excellence, University of Cape Town, Rondebosch, South Africa Email: Phalacrocorax capensis feeds up to 80 km offshore, often roosts at sea during the day and retains more air in its plumage and is more buoyant than most other cormorants. 3.6 ± 1.3 foraging trips per day, each lasting 85 ± 60 min and comprising 61 ± 53 dives. Dives lasted 21.2 ± 13.9 s (maximum 70 s), attaining an average depth of 10.2 ± 6.7 m (maximum 34 m. the time spent flying (122 ± 51 min day−1, 14% of daylight) was greater and more variable than other species. Searching flights lasted up to 1 h, and birds made numerous short flights during foraging bouts, presumably following fast-moving schools of pelagic prey. Their foraging range while feeding small chicks was 7 ± 6 km (maximum 40 km), similar to penguins Spheniscus demersus (10–20 km), but less than gannets Morus capensis (50–200 km).

Siverio, M., Rodríguez, B., Rodríguez, A. and Siverio, F. (2011) Inter-insular variation of the diet of Osprey Pandion haliaetus in the Canarian archipelago Wildlife Biology 17(3):240-247 (Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain - e-mail: We counted a minimum of 307 fish individuals as prey remains (both during breeding and non-breeding seasons), and identified another 78 during 433 hours of field observations. According to our results, Ospreys consumed at least 15 taxa belonging to 12 families. We found slight differences in the spatial (both intra and inter insular) and temporal diet composition. During the breeding season, the main prey species were flying fishes (belonging to the family Exocoetidae) and needlefishes (belonging to the family Belonidae) according to the two employed methods (i.e. prey remains and direct observations). In the non-breeding period, the diet was composed primarily of non-autochthones freshwater fishes Cyprinus carpio and Carassius auratus. 

van Niekerk, J.H. (2010). Assemblages and movements of waterfowl at cattle feedlots across Gauteng, South Africa OSTRICH 81(1): 31–37 Department of Environmental Sciences, College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, University of South Africa, PO Box 392, Pretoria 0003, South Africa -mail: Anas undulata, Dendrocygna bicolor, Dendrocygne viduata, Anas smithii, Anas capensis, Anas erythrorhyncha benefited directly from the cattle feedlots. Food items, such as undigested maize seeds, were obtained from the pen floor and aquatic invertebrates were consumed from dams that were enriched with manure runoff. Sarkidiornis melanota and Alopochen aegyptiaca also fed on maize seeds on the pen floor, while Anas sparsa although primarily river-bound, fed in manure runoff dams in summer.



Backhurst, G., Pearson, D., Troop, J. and Jackson, C. (2008) Ringing at Ngulia 2005-2007 Kenya Birds 12(1&2): 23-27. (Ngulia Bird Migration Project, Ngulia Ringing Group email: 143 birds plus 2087 swallows rung. Sylvia communis; Luscinia luscinia; Acrocephalus palustris; Delichon urbica; Acrocephalus griseldis

Boucheker, A., Samraoui, B., Prodon, R., Amat, J.A., Rendón-Martos, M., Baccetti, N., Vidal, F.,  Esquerre, I., Nissardi, S., Balkız, Ö., Germain, C., Boulkhssaim M. and Béchet, A. (2011) Connectivity between the Algerian population of Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus roseus and those of the Mediterranean basin OSTRICH  82(3): 167–174 (Centre de recherche de la Tour du Valat, Le Sambuc, 13200 Arles, France E-mail: At breeding colonies in Algeria, most ringed birds (99.4% of 835 birds) originated from north-western Mediterranean colonies. Among the 860 fledglings ringed in Algeria in 2006 and 2009, 619 different individuals were seen again from August 2006 to September 2010 in a total of 980 sightings. A large proportion (73%) of these birds was observed at North African sites, while the remaining ones reached both north-western (168 birds) and north-eastern (three birds) Mediterranean wetlands. 



Geruaud, A., Raherilalao, M. J., Pasquet, E. And  Goodman, S. M. (2011) Phylogeography and systematics of the Malagasy rock-thrushes (Muscicapidae, Monticola). Zoologica Scripta, 40, 554–566. (no address given). Based on molecular genetics and morphology, M. imerinus is distinct from the M. sharpei complex, which is composed of five phylogroups: Group A (Central Highlands, typical sharpei), Group B (Central West, Bemaraha),  2 Group C (Northern Highlands), Group D (Montagne d’Ambre, erythronotus) and Group E (Southwestern, bensoni). While molecular data show high levels of geographical structure, these differences exhibit low levels of intergroup genetic divergence (0.01–0.07%). We suggest that two species of Monticola occur on Madagascar, imerinus and sharpei, and the forms referable to bensoni and erythronotus, as well as unnamed populations from the Central West (Bemahara), should be considered as part of M. sharpei and are populations that are probably isolated and undergoing incipient speciation.

Pierre-PT., Walsh, M., Hansell, Borello, W.D. and Healy, S.D. (2010) Repeatability of nest morphology in African weaver birds Biology Letters 23 6(2): 149-151 1School of Biology, University of St Andrews, St Andrews, Fife, UK email: ( we show that repeatability of nest morphology was low, but significant, in male Southern Masked weaver birds and not significant in the Village weavers. The larger bodied Ploceus cucullatus built larger nests than did Ploceus velatus but body size did not explain variation in Southern Masked weaver nest dimensions. Nests built by the same male in both species got shorter and lighter as more nests were constructed.

Wilson, J.W., Symes, C.T., Brown, M., Bonnevie, B. de Swardt, D.H. and Hanmer, D. (2009).  A re-evaluation of morphological differences in the Karoo Thrush Turdus smithi – Olive Thrush Turdus olivaceus species complex. Ostrich 80 (3): 171–175 School of Animal, Plant and Environmental Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Private Bag 3, Wits 2050, South Africa E-mail: We attempt to clarify identification of the respective taxa. there were often large differences between subspecies of T. olivaceus (particularly the geographically isolated T. o. swynnertoni) than between T. olivaceus and T. smithi. Plumage characteristics proved more useful in separating T. olivaceus and T. smithi in the field, except in regions where the distributions overlap (potential hybridisation zones).



van Oers, K., Richardson, D.S., Sæther, S.A. and Komdeu, J. (2010). Reduced blood parasite prevalence with age in the Seychelles Warbler: selective mortality or suppression of infection? Journal of Ornithology 151(1): 69-77 2010 Department of Animal Population Biology, Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW), P.O. Box 40, 6666 ZG Heteren, The Netherlands email: We analyse both within-individual changes in malaria prevalence and long-term survival consequences of infection in the Seychelles Warbler (Acrocephalus sechellensis). Adults were less likely to be infected than juveniles females were less likely to be infected than males. We show by screening individual birds in two subsequent years that the decline with age is a result both of individual suppression of infection and selective mortality. Uninfected birds did not become infected later in life. Males were found to be more infected than females in this species possibly because males are the dispersing sex and the cost of dispersal may have to be traded against immunity.

Radford, A. N., Bell, M. B. V., Hollén, L. I. and Ridley, A. R. (2011) SINGING FOR YOUR SUPPER: SENTINEL CALLING BY KLEPTOPARASITES CAN MITIGATE THE COST TO VICTIMS. Evolution 65: 900–906. (School of Biological Sciences, University of Bristol, Woodland Road, Bristol, BS8 1UG, United Kingdom E-mail: Parasitism generally imposes costs on victims, yet many victims appear to tolerate their parasites. We suggest that in some cases this may be because parasites provide victims with mitigating benefits, paradoxically giving rise to selection for advertisement rather than concealment by parasites. We investigate this possibility using the interaction between an avian kleptoparasite, Dicrurus adsimilis, and one of its victims, Turdoides bicolor. Combining field observations and a playback experiment, we demonstrate that a conspicuous vocal signal broadcast by drongos perched waiting to steal food from foraging babblers allows the latter to improve their own foraging efficiency, although not to the same extent as that experienced in response to conspecific sentinel calling.

Schultz, A., Underhill, L.G., Earlé, R.A. and Underhill, G. (2010). Infection prevalence and absence of positive correlation between avian haemosporidian parasites, mass and body condition in the Cape Weaver Ploceus capensis OSTRICH 81(1): 69–76 Animal Demography Unit, Department of Zoology, University of Cape Town, Rondebosch 7701, South Africa E-mail: Abstract: Ploceus capensis blood smears presented avian haemosporidia in 58.79% of males and 61.90% of females, representing five species from three genera: one avian kinetoplastid haemoflagellate Trypanosoma everetti with 0.28% infection rate, Haemoproteus queleae (69.45%), Leucocytozoon bouffardi (23.91%), and Plasmodium species (5.76%). Double infections occurred in 40 birds (11.52%), with females having the greatest number. Differences in infection prevalence between sexes was correlated to time spent being active at the nest, with a marked reduction in female infection due to incubation within a tunnel-shaped nest providing protection from vectors.



Donald, P.F and Collar, N.J.  (2011) Notes on the structure and plumage of Beesley's Lark Chersomanes [albofasciata] beesleyi Bulletin of the African Bird Club 18(2):  168-173 RSPB, The Lodge, Sandy, Beds SG19 2DL email: A rare & declining taxon confined to Nothern Tanzania separated by plumage & behaviour.

Fuchs, J., Crowe, T. M. and Bowie, R. C. K.  (2011)  Phylogeography of the fiscal shrike (Lanius collaris): a novel pattern of genetic structure across the arid zones and savannas of Africa. Journal of Biogeography, 38: 2210–2222. (California Academy of Sciences, 55 Music Concourse Drive, San Francisco, CA 94118, USA. E-mail: The fiscal shrike consists of two primary lineages with a strong geographic component: a northern group distributed from southern Tanzania to Senegal, and a southern group distributed from Botswana / Zambia to South Africa with isolated populations in Tanzania and northern Malawi. Unexpectedly, Souza’s shrike (L. souzae) was nested within L. collaris, as the sister group of the southern group. The positions of Mackinnon’s shrike (L. mackinnoni) and that of the São Tomé shrike (L. newtoni) were variable, being either nested within the fiscal shrike or sister to the L. collaris – L. souzae clade.

Fuchs, J., Fjeldså, J. and Bowie, R.C.K. (2011). Diversification across an altitudinal gradient in the Tiny Greenbul (Phyllastrephus debilis) from the Eastern Arc Mountains of Africa. BMC Evolutionary Biology 11: 117 (Museum of Vertebrate Zoology and Department of Integrative Biology, 3101 Valley Life Science Building, University of California, Berkeley, CA, 94720-3160, USA). Tiny Greenbul  Phyllastrephus debilis: Subspecies albigula is elevated to species rank, as Usambara Greenbul (Phyllastrephus albigula).

Glen, R., Bowie, R.C.K., Stolberger, S. and Voelker, G. (2011). Geographically structured plumage variation among populations of White-headed Black Chat (Myrmecocichla arnotti) in Tanzania confirms the race collaris to be a valid taxon. Journal of Ornithology 152: 63–70. (Ruaha National Park, PIO Box 369, Iringa, Tanzania). White-headed Black Chat Myrmecocichla arnotti: results of morphological and genetic analyses, and detailed observations suggest that all birds from west of the Eastern Arc and southern Tanzanian highlands are of the white-collared form, which we suggest should be accorded species rank and named Myrmecocichla collaris, the Ruaha Chat. 

Zuccon, D. & Ericson, P. G. P. (2010). A multi-gene phylogeny disentangles the chat-flycatcher complex (Aves: Muscicapidae). Zoologica Scripta, 39, 213–224. no address given. The genera Alethe, Brachypteryx, and Myiophonus are nested within the Muscicapidae radiation. Erithacus is part of the African forest robin assemblage (Cichladusa, Cossypha, Pogonocichla, Pseudalethe, Sheppardia, Stiphrornis), while Luscinia and Tarsiger belong to a large, mainly Asian radiation. Enicurus belongs to the same Asian clade and it does not deserve the recognition as a distinct subfamily or tribe. We found good support also for an assemblage of chats adapted to arid habitats (Monticola, Oenanthe, Thamnolaea, Myrmecocichla, Pentholaea, Cercomela, Saxicola, Campicoloides, Pinarochroa) and a redstart clade (Phoenicurus, Chaimarrornis and Rhyacornis). Five genera (Muscicapa, Copsychus, Thamnolaea, Luscinia and Ficedula) are polyphyletic and in need of taxonomic revision.



Shaw, P. (2010). Niche partitioning and densities of Albertine Rift endemics and their congeners in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Uganda xx Ostrich 81(1) : 7–17 School of Biology, Bute Building, University of St Andrews, Fife, KY16 9TS, UK and Institute of Tropical Forest Conservation, Mbarara University of Science and Technology, PO Box 44, Kabale, Uganda E-mail: The five endemic Phylloscopus, Apalis, Batis and Parus were associated with ridgetop forest, steeply sloping ground and a sparse understorey or field layer in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. They foraged within a narrower height range and used a wider range of substrates than their partner species. Two endemic apalises were among the most abundant of their genus, achieving densities at least seven times that of the least abundant apalis at Bwindi.

Tassie, N. and Bekele, A. (2008). Diversity and habitat association of birds of Dembia plain wetlands, Lake Tana, Ethiopia SINET: Ethiopian Journal of Science 31 (1): pp. 1-10.

Whittington-Jones, C.A. (2010) Monitoring the African Grass Owl (Tyto capensis) and Marsh Owl (Asio capensis) on Suikerbosrand Reserve extension. GABAR 21(1 & 2): 8-19. (Gauteng Directorate of Nature Conservation, PO Box 8769 Johannesburg 2000 South Africa email: Tyto capensis density lower than expected possibly due to collisions or prey availability.



Awa, T., Burgess, M.D. and Norris, K. (2009). Investigating the practicality of using radio tracking to determine home range and movements of Picathartidae. Ostrich 80 (3): 145–151 Centre for Agri-Environmental Research, School of Agriculture, Policy and Development, University of Reading, Reading, RG6 6AR, UK (E-mail: Picathartes oreas were radio-tracked in the Mbam Minkom Mountain Forest, southern Cameroon, using neck collar (two birds) and tail-mounted (four birds) transmitters. As mortality in one bird was potentially caused by the neck collar transmitter we recommend tail-mounted transmitters in future radio-tracking studies of Picathartidae. Home ranges, shown using minimum convex polygon and kernel estimation methods, were generally small (<0.5 km2) and centred around breeding sites. A minimum of 60 fixes were found to be sufficient for home range estimation.

Cumming, G.S. and Ndlovu, M. (2011) Satellite Telemetry of Afrotropical Ducks: Methodological Details and Assessment of Success Rates African Zoology 46(2):425-434. 2011 Percy FitzPatrick Institute, DST/NRF Center of Excellence, University of Cape Town, Rondebosch, Cape Town, 7701 South Africa  E-mail: graeme. cumming@uct. ac. We present  details of how transmitters should be attached to different species and even fewer assessments of the overall field success of telemetry projects from a study involving a total of 47 individual Alopochen aegyptiaca, and Anas erythrorhyncha, using solar powered GPS satellite
transmitters of two different sizes (30 g and 22 g, respectively) . Our results suggest that the 30 g units last longer than the 22 g units, with approximately 60% and 30%, respectively, of these PTTs (position tracking terminals) lasting longer than a year; 45% and 5%, respectively, lasting longer than two years; and 20% and 0%, respectively, lasting longer than three years. 

Jones, P., Salewski, V., Vickery, J. and Mapaure, I. (2010) Habitat use and densities of co-existing migrant Willow Warblers Phylloscopus trochilus and resident eremomelas Eremomela spp. in Zimbabwe Bird Study 57(1): 44 – 55 Institute of Evolutionary Biology, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK. Willow Warblers occupied more habitats at greater density than Eremomela scotops and Eremomela icteropygialis. They appear to favour acacia.

Ksepka, D.T. and Thomas, D.B. (2012) Multiple cenozoic invasions of Africa by penguins (Aves, Sphenisciformes) Proc. R. Soc. B279(1730): 1027-1032. Department of Marine, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695, USA Africa hosts a single breeding species of penguin today, yet the fossil record indicates that a diverse array of now-extinct taxa once inhabited southern African coastlines. Here, we show that the African penguin fauna had a complex history with a  minimum of three dispersals to Africa, probably assisted by the eastward-flowing Antarctic Circumpolar and South Atlantic currents, occurred during the Late Cenozoic.

Robinson, D. Balmer, D. and Marchant, J.H. (2008). Survival rates of hirundines in relation to British and African rainfall. Ringing & Migration 24(1):1-6 British Trust for Ornithology, The Nunnery, Thetford,Norfolk,IP24 2PU UK. Estimates of survival rates of Hirundo rustica, Riparia riparia, Delichon urbica were correlated with rainfall on the African wintering ground but not with British rainfall.




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