Common Buttonquail shot in Algeria by a local hunter

The Common Buttonquail (Turnix sylvaticus) has not been observed in Algeria since almost three decades.

A hunter had mistaken the bird for Common Quail (Coturnix coturnix) and shot it in the northeast of the country in late November 2019.

More at MaghrebOrnitho: Andalusian Buttonquail observed in Algeria for the first time in three decades.

New breeding site of the endemic Algerian Nuthatch discovered last spring

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Until now, the Algerian Nuthatch (Sitta ledanti) is known only in four sites, namely the forests of Babor, Guerrouch, Tamentout and Djimla (see map below). All sites are close to each other but separated by unsuitable habitats, and are located in what’s known as ‘Petite Kabilie’ or Kabylie of the Babors, north-east Algeria…

via New breeding site of the Algerian Nuthatch discovered in Algeria — MaghrebOrnitho

Status and breeding biology of the Algerian Nuthatch (Sitta ledanti) in the Guerrouch forest (Algeria)

The breeding pairs of the Algerian Nuthatch have been censused in the Guerrouch forest (Taza National Park, Jijel, Algeria). A decrease in numbers was assessed when comparing with data collected in the early 1990s. The main reason is the habitat degradation by human activities. First data were obtained by studying a nest located in a Zeen Oak. The clutch size was of 6 eggs. Incubation time was estimated to last 17 days and the nestling period likely to last 21 days. The breeding season stretched from April to early June. No evidence of second clutch.

Moulaï, R., Bouchareb, A., Gheribi, A. & Bougaham, A. F. 2017. Statut de la population et biologie de la reproduction de la Sittelle Kabyle Sitta ledanti dans la forêt de Guerrouch (Algérie). Alauda 85: 101-107.

Plus de détails sur cette étude (en Français & English):

Algerian Nuthatch: status and breeding biology at the Guerrouch forest.

Sittelle kabyle (Sitta ledanti), forêt de Guerrouch, Parc National de Taza, Algérie (Riadh Moulaï)
Sittelle kabyle (Sitta ledanti), forêt de Guerrouch, Parc National de Taza, Algérie (Riadh Moulaï).

A new North African subspecies of Common Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs)

Svensson, L. 2015. A new North African subspecies of Common Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs. Bulletin of the British Ornithologists’ Club 135: 69–76.

In this recent taxonomic paper, Lars Svensson described a new subspecies of Common Chaffinch from north Cyrenaica, Libya: Fringilla coelebs harterti subsp. novUntil now, the birds breeding in this region were generally included in Fringilla coelebs africana.

Summary:

A new subspecies of Common Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs in North Africa is described. It is restricted to northern Cyrenaica in north-east Libya. Differences from the other North African subspecies, F. c. africana and F. c. spodiogenys, are discussed, the main ones being that males invariably possess a prominent white patch on the central nape, a hint of a white post-ocular supercilium, a more yellowish tinge both above and below, stronger yellow fringes to the tertials and wing-coverts, and a less clean blue-grey head. Reasons for not recognising the subspecies F. c. koenigi are reconfirmed. There is some variation in size and in saturation of male plumage within the range of africana, making separation of koenigi untenable.

First posted in MaghrebOrnitho.

:ملخص

Fringilla coelebs harterti :تم وصف نوع فرعي جديد من الحسون الظالم في شمال برقة، شمال شرق ليبيا

Fringilla coelebs africana :حتى الآن، يتم عادة إدراج الحسون الظالم الدي يتوالد في هذه المنطقة في النوع الفرعي

Libyan Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs harterti): a new subspecies found only in Cyrenaica,north-east Libya.
Libyan Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs harterti): a new subspecies found only in Cyrenaica, north-east Libya (photo: Encyclopedia of Wild Birds in Libya – موسوعة الطيور البرية في ليبيا).
Libyan Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs harterti): a new subspecies found only in Cyrenaica,north-east Libya
Libyan Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs harterti): a new subspecies found only in Cyrenaica, north-east Libya. (‎photo: Encyclopedia of Wild Birds in Libya – موسوعة الطيور البرية في ليبيا) ‎

Post-release monitoring of Double-spurred Francolin (Francolinus bicalcaratus ayesha) in Morocco

Hanane, S. & Qninba, A. (2014). Post-release monitoring of a critically endangered galliform subspecies, Francolinus bicalcaratus ayesha, in Morocco: a field study using playback call counts. Zoology and Ecology 24: 332–338.  doi: 10.1080/21658005.2014.981431
PDF in ResearchGate.net

Abstract:

The Double-spurred Francolin Francolinus bicalcaratus ayesha is a critically endangered galliform subspecies in Morocco. To improve the viability of this threatened population, 300 captive-bred francolins were released into the Didactic Lot of the Royal Moroccan Federation of Hunting, and post-release monitoring was conducted. In this study, we used playback call counts to assess differences in habitat use and temporal variations in vocal activity of Double-spurred Francolins. The number of male calls per point count was significantly higher in the wooden matorral (WM) than in the non-wooden matorral (MT). The male responses per point count also increased depending on date, reaching a maximum in the first 10 days of March. The pattern was similar in the two habitats, although the maximum average call rates were significantly different [WM = 1.575 (95% CI: 1.394–1.780), MT = 0.481 (95% CI: 0.393–0.589)]. We suggest that call counts collected during this period could be used to index the annual change of the released population in that area. Further researches are, however, needed to (1) estimate the current population size of the released francolins and (2) characterize the habitats used within this protected area.

Double-spurred Francolin - Francolin à double éperon (Pternistis bicalcaratus ayesha)

Double-spurred Francolin – Francolin à double éperon (Pternistis bicalcaratus ayesha), Morocco. (photo: Groupe de Recherche pour la Protection des Oiseaux au Maroc, GREPOM)

Monitoring Mediterranean Lesser Crested Terns (Thalasseus bengalensis emigratus) in Libya

RAC/SPA-UNEP/MAP, 2014. Monitoring Mediterranean Lesser Crested Terns Thalasseus bengalensis emigratus. By Baccetti N. and Zenatello M. (Ed.), RAC.SPA, Tunis. 26p + Appendices. PDF

Summary:

The Mediterranean Lesser Crested Terns, Thalasseus bengalensis emigratus, is a Mediterranean endemic seabird, potentially vulnerable to many sources of threat. In 2012, within the framework of the MedMPAnet Project, a study was conducted on this species in Libya, especially in Garah, a potential future MPA where the largest fraction of the seabird global population is concentrated.

Actions and methods are described to monitor the breeding population of the Mediterranean Lesser Crested Tern, which is currently confined to Libya. The aim is providing a tool which will allow a coherent and safe approach to a population of extremely high conservation value, which is potentially vulnerable to many sources of threat, not least monitoring itself.

Assessing changes in population size, distribution and breeding success is crucial for conservation. We attempted to gather recent experiences carried out under the RAC-SPA umbrella to produce a document available for further sharing, that may ensure a correct continuation of activities in the next future. The monitoring guide of the Mediterranean Lesser Crested Tern population is now available on-line at the RAC-SPA website.

 Adult Mediterranean Lesser Crested Tern (Thalasseus bengalensis emigrates) and ringed juvenile at Garah, Libya

Adult Mediterranean Lesser Crested Terns (Thalasseus bengalensis emigrates) and ringed juvenile (c. 10 days old) at Garah, Libya. (photo: J. Sultana).

Breeding colony of the Mediterranean Lesser Crested Terns (Thalasseus bengalensis emigrates) at Garah, Libya

Breeding colony of the Mediterranean Lesser Crested Terns (Thalasseus bengalensis emigrates) at Garah, Libya. (photo: J. Sultana).

Analyse écologique et aspects patrimoniaux des oiseaux nicheurs de la région des Babors occidentales (Bejaia, Algérie)

Bougaham A. F. & Moulaï R., 2014. Analyse écologique et aspects patrimoniaux des oiseaux nicheurs de la région des Babors occidentales (Bejaia, Algérie). Alauda 82 (2): 125-134.  PDF

Ecological analysis and patrimonial value of the breeding birds in the western Babors range in North-East Algeria.

Abstract:

The composition and patrimonial value of the breeding birds across the different available habitats were studied in the Western Babors range (North East Algeria). In this area, 90 point counts were carried out between 4 April and 31 July 2011. Among the 62 species recorded, 19 are of high patrimonial value (including 4 endemic species, the most famous being the Algerian Nuthatch Sitta ledanti). The species with the highest patrimonial value are linked to woodland habitats. Nevertheless, the oldest woodlands (Cedrus atlantica and Quercus afares) harbour the lowest number of species with high patrimonial value. The mean total species richness is higher in open areas than it is in woodlands (except in riparian forests).

Algerian Nuthatch - Sitta ledanti - Sittelle kabyle, Petite Kabylie (Algeria)

Algerian Nuthatch – Sitta ledanti – Sittelle Kabyle, Petite Kabylie (Algeria), June 2009. (Photo: David Monticelli)

On the systematic status of the Cyrenaic Partridge (Alectoris barbata)

Spanò, S., Pellegrino, I., & Borgo, E. (2013). On the systematic status of the Cyrenaic Partridge (Alectoris barbata Reichenow, 1896)Avocetta 37: 145-148.
PDF from CISO – Centro Italiano Studi Ornitologici

Abstract:

Some considerations on the morphological features that differentiate Alectoris barbara barbata from A. b. barbara are exposed, and are also reported the results of a genetic investigation performed on historical specimens. Results showed a considerable genetic distance (0.06), certainly enough to consider it an ESU (Evolutionary Significant Unit), but most likely a separate species.

Cyrenaic Partridge (Alectoris barbara barbata)

Cyrenaic Partridge – Alectoris (barbara) barbata – حجل برقة

Maghreb Wheatear (Oenanthe halophila) could be a new North African endemic

Schweizer, M. & Shirihai, H. (2013). Phylogeny of the  Oenanthe lugens complex (Aves, Muscicapidae: Saxicolinae): Paraphyly of a morphologically cohesive group within a recent radiation of open-habitat chats. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 69 (3): 450–461. doi: 10.1016/j.ympev.2013.08.010

The new phylogenetic study was inconclusive regarding the split of the Maghreb Wheatear (Oenanthe halophila) from the Mourning Wheatear complex. However, it should be split by applying the integrative approach toward species delimitation as was applied in other cases including in the genus Oenanthe. 

La nouvelle étude phylogénétique n’a pas été concluante en ce qui concerne l’élévation au rang d’espèce du Traquet halophile Oenanthe halophila (c’est-à-dire le “split” entre ce taxon et le Traquet deuil Oenanthe lugens). Cependant, il devrait être “splité” en appliquant l’approche intégrative à la délimitation des espèces, comme cela a été appliqué dans d’autres cas, y compris dans le genre Oenanthe

Abstract:

The morphologically inferred Oenanthe lugens complex comprises nine taxa of open-habitat chats which occur in rocky and/or mountainous areas adjacent to the Saharo-Sindian desert belt. It has traditionally been divided into the lugubris group of north-east Africa, the lugentoides group of the southern part of the Arabian Peninsula and the lugens group of North Africa and the Middle East. Previous molecular phylogenetic studies have shown that the O. lugens complex might not be monophyletic. However, it remained unclear how this result might have been affected by incomplete taxon sampling, as the lugentoides group and two out of three taxa of the lugubris group have not been analyzed so far. In this study, we present a phylogenetic hypothesis of the O. lugens complex based on two mitochondrial genes and one nuclear intron using, for the first time, a complete taxon sampling. The application of a multispecies coalescent approach allowed us to simultaneously estimate the sequence and timing of speciation events.

The O. lugens complex was consistently revealed as a polyphyletic assemblage and the traditionally recognized groups should be treated as at least three different species: O. lugens, Oenanthe lugubris, and Oenanthe lugentoides. While O. lugubris and O. lugentoides were revealed to be sister groups, O. lugens was found to be closely related to the species pair Oenanthe chrysopygia/Oenanthe xanthoprymna. The latter differ quite strongly in morphology and have traditionally not been associated with members of the lugens complex. We thus corroborate the results of previous studies, which demonstrated that morphology seems to be a poor predictor of phylogenetic relationships in Oenanthe. In contrast to the mtDNA markers analyzed, it was revealed that differences among taxa were not fixed in the nuclear intron. In the case of the taxa persica of the lugens group, an influence of introgression in autosomal markers cannot be excluded and deserves further study. The three species O. lugens, O. lugubris, and O. lugentoides and their associated taxa comprise a comparatively young radiation, which started to diversify in the Pliocene with major diversification events during the Pleistocene. The different taxa seem to have evolved during periods of increased aridity in isolation in rocky mountainous areas adjacent to hyper arid regions.

Distribution of the 9 different taxa of Oenanthe lugens complex
Distribution of the 9 different taxa of Oenanthe lugens complex. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2013.08.010
Maghreb Wheatear - Traquet halophile - Oenanthe (lugens) halophila, Batna, Algeria
Maghreb Wheatear – Traquet halophile (Oenanthe halophila), Batna, Algeria (photo: Raouf Guechi)