Please, forgive if this message appears twice. There seems to have been
something wrong with the server on March 25 when the message was originally
sent, as I did not recieve a copy. Anyhow I have added a little more text, so
this will replace the original message
Phil and others,
I recently initiated a discussion on Neo-orn list (covering Neotropical bird
issues), having more or less the same concerns as you of the "unnecessary"
killing of birds. I was completely knocked down by the response.
The big concensus among the very prominent members of this list is that taking
voucher specimens is still the very best way of having a complete samples for
morphological studies, anatomy, moult, etc. Birds represents a renewable
resource and is not per se detrimental to overall populations (except in bold
examples of extremely threatened species.)
I advertised some sort of standard photography methods, but it would probably
be difficult to get this standardarised and could never replace true
However, in our own studies we will do selctive collection. I too don´t like
the idea of completely vacum-clean an area for specimens and care should
always be taken with threatened species. A lot of common sence is needed.
Sometimes it is not possible to do a proper expedition taking voucher
specimens (which requires special skills and permits), and here DNA samples
and photographs and recordings are very good tools indeed. And birders can and
should be encouraged to take more part in this end of orntithology.
I am a birder principally and organise birding trips in South America. But I
am also a biologist and have therefor organised a couple of scientific
expeditions in Peru, principally involving RDB-species. This is the first time
we will do any major collecting, but as always care will be taken and not take
more than necessary.
For description of new species, there seems to be no substitute for taking
voucher specimens, otherwise you will not be accepted by the scientific
But I do agree, that this stand-point is particulary difficult when it comes
to birds that may have a very small populatiion. This is probably not the case
in Apurimac. This area simply represent a poorly known area as such, with a
high degree of endemism. Describing the Antpitta properly would give voice in
the world and would give yet another very good reason to protect the habitat.
This is in the end the key argument from the scientists on the Neoorn list.
The main thing we have to be concerned about is the loss of habitat. This
kills manyfold more birds than the collecting expeditions of the
ornithologists at the museums.
But for myself as most members of the list I prefer watching the birds rather
than killing them. Some of the scientist were a bit arrogant towards the
feelings of many birdwatchers. This does not really help the cause as far as I
am concerned. The decission not to take specimens should not exclude the
birdwatcher from undertaking scientific expeditions andf such a stand-point
should be respected. Lots of material can be collected without taking
specimens. However, as stated, there is no substitute to specimens, when
describing new taxa. Any such description should be completed with ecological
data, photographs, bloodsamples, and voice recordings and this will be a very
good description indeed.
The bidding starts at 5,000 US$. (Five thousand). A bit different. (But then
again more or less what a luxurios two week birding trip with the big US
companies from Lima would cost.) The bidding continues to the end of April.
Bidders will be notified where they stand compared to others. So far no
bidders (but still this haven´t been announced very long.
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