Birder's Guide

OCT 2016

Birder's Guide is the American Birding Association's newest publication. Each issue focuses on a key subject, providing tips from experienced birders on a wide variety of topics like Travel, Listing & Taxonomy, Gear, and Conservation & Community.

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Continued on page 18 World Bird Families 16 Birder's Guide to Listing & Taxonomy | October 2016 ASIA contains a dozen endemic bird families, three of which are extremely local- ized. The Tibetan Plateau has to be visited for Przevalski's Pinktail, Borneo's lowland rainforest for Bristlehead, and montane Sulawesi for Hylocitrea. The remaining endemic families are widespread, making the areas in which to chase them less obvi- ous; however, Rail-babbler is best found on peninsular Malaysia and Spotted Elachura Vangas, Helmetshrikes & Allies (although the IOC taxonomy treats Woodshrikes in a separate family!); fig-loving Fairy-Blue- birds; and Ioras. Other high-priority fami- lies include the majestic Treeswifts, Asian & Grauer's Broadbills, African & Green Broadbills, Leafbirds, and Flowerpeckers. And with 11 Pitta species in Malaysia, it is wise to search for this family here, too, even though arguably they are easier to see in Australia. The final Asian piece of the jigsaw puzzle is in the archipelago of Indonesia, homing in on the island of Sulawesi between July and September. The main reason for its in- clusion is a dingy and inconspicuous en- demic bird and family—Hylocitrea—con- fined to its mountains. There are no other essential birds on Sulawesi, but the usual areas visited frequently also yield members of the Tree-Babblers, Scimitar-Babblers, & Allies, as well as the Pittas and Treeswifts. AUSTRALASIA is the world champion of endemic families, with 33 Clements/35 IOC endemic families spread among four distinct areas: New Guinea, New Cale- donia, Australia, and New Zealand. New Guinea hosts three (Clements) to seven (IOC) endemic families: Satinbirds, Ber- rypeckers & Longbills, Tit Berrypecker & Crested Berrypecker, Ifrita, Ploughbill, Mottled Whistler, and Melampittas (the last four only recognised by IOC). A trip to the Gondwanaland relict New Cale- donia is essential, for the strange Kagu exists nowhere else. It is so symbolic of the island that it adorns the bank notes. Australia has seven unique bird families: Emu, Plains-wanderer, Lyrebirds, Scrub- occurs in China. So, China, Malaysia (both the peninsula and Borneo), and Indonesia (Sulawesi) is the optimum combination. China is one of the largest nations on Earth, and our strategy targets seven dif- ferent families here, and an additional six families that are best found while here, most of which are generally easy to find. Like Bra- zil, China deserves an extended stay, with three distinct areas to be covered: (1) the Ti- betan provinces of Qinghai and Sichuan for Ibisbill, Wallcreeper, Accentors, Treecreep- ers, Parrotbills & Allies, and the endemic Przevalski's Pinktail; (2) Southeast China to add Spotted Elachura; and (3) the Xinji- ang region for Bearded Reedling, not avail- able elsewhere using this strategy. Other families that are high priority in China are Long-tailed Tits, Dippers, Cupwings, Tree- Babblers, Scimitar-Babblers & Allies, and Laughingthrushes & Allies. Heading into tropical Asia, a trip to Ma - laysia between March and October is vital. Both the peninsula and the island of Borneo must be visited. Borneo's lowland jungles are the only place where the Bristlehead oc- curs, and the peninsula's lowland jungles are indispensable for Rail-babbler, which is rarely seen elsewhere. Between the pen- insula and Borneo, one should encounter Counterclockwise from top: n Black-capped Donacobius - SOUTH AMERICA. Photo © Bernard Dupont n Shoebill - UGANDA. Photo © Ken Behrens n Crested Satinbird - NEW GUINEA. Photo © Sam Woods/tropicalbirding.com Continued on page 18

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