Volume 47
2023


Layout by Roberto Brembilla

Avocetta
Volume 47 continuous publishing



  1. Cover page - Issue 47 (full size) photo by Mario Monfrini

    Abstract     Read Article       Download
    59 127
  2. Editorial - All that glitters is not gold: The world of scientific publications and the challenges of publishing high-quality research

    Roberto Ambrosini

    Abstract     Read Article       Download
    246 222
  3. Peri-urban wetlands as biodiversity hotspots: the approach study of the waterbird community seasonal variation of Arnovecchio oasis in Florence province (Tuscany)

    Clara Sargentini, Roberto Tocci & Francesco Bimbi

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    164 233

    The aim of this work was to monitor the waterbird community throughout the year in an anthropized peri-urban wetland of Florence province. The sampling was conducted from January 2018 to December 2020 throughout all seasons of the year by direct observations, using binoculars and acoustic surveys. To evaluate bird biodiversity, we calculated the relative frequency, abundance and species richness, the Shannon-Wiener Index and evenness. We monitored 19 species, among which six were dominant species: Anas platyrhynchos, Larus michahellis, Fulica atra, Podiceps cristatus, Aythya ferina, Chroicocephalus ridibundus. Abundance, species richness and Shannon-Wiener diversity were highest in winter, while evenness was highest in spring; a
    Principal Component Analysis confirmed that Arnovecchio is an important wetland both for breeding (Podiceps cristatus, Tachybaptus ruficollis, Anas platyrhynchos) and wintering species (Aythya ferina, Chroicocephalus ridibundus). Most of the species were identified in autumn and in winter when this area may represent for some birds a protected refuge during the hunting season. Among the most observed species, Aythya ferina and Chroicocephalus ridibundus were absent in spring but were more common in winter. Among the nesting species, the most common are Podiceps cristatus and Tachybaptus ruficollis. The results of this study suggest a constant presence of birds during the whole year in this peri-urban area, thereby highlighting its relevance for
    biodiversity as well as for providing the opportunity to human visitors to enjoy its natural values in all seasons.

  4. Long-term monitoring of the Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus nesting in the Furlo Gorge State Nature Reserve (Marches, central Italy)

    Maurizio Saltarelli & Marco Pantalone

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    212 332

    The present study shows the results of the long-term monitoring of the Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus
    nesting in the Furlo Gorge State Nature Reserve located in the Marches region (central Italy). Monitoring
    took place between 1997-2022, when a minimum of 1 and a maximum of 3 breeding pairs nested within
    the protected area. During the study period, we identified 11 nesting sites used by the Peregrine Falcons that
    were located on cliffs with ledges and small niches, placed at an average height of 416 m (±89 m) a.s.l. Over the
    study period, the breeding pairs laid a total of 69 eggs, with an annual mean of 2.34 per pair, raising a total of 61
    chicks of which 57 fledged successfully. Breeding attempts always occurred in March (with a pronounced peak
    in the second week) and incubation period lasted on average 32±1.60 days. During the 23 years of monitoring,
    the productivity rate was of 1.32 (n fledglings/n pairs), with a chick mortality of only 2.44% and a fledging success
    of 2.47 (fledglings/pairs with juveniles). This study highlights the Furlo Gorge as the second most important
    monitored breeding area for the Peregrine Falcon in the Marches region being the first one the Regional
    Park Gola della Rossa e di Frasassi (AN).

  5. Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni diet during different phases of breeding and post breeding periods in central Greece

    Christos Christakis, Maria Makri, Haralambos Alivizatos & Athanassios Sfougaris

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    132 214

    The Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni is a small migratory falcon, foraging in areas covered by relatively low vegetation. In the Thessalian Plain, Central Greece, it feeds mainly on large Orthoptera and Coleoptera, and is characterized by an opportunistic feeding strategy. The purpose of this study was to investigate the composition of the Lesser Kestrel diet in the Thessalian plain. Systematic visits to two large representative colonies of the Lesser Kestrel in the study area were performed, in order to collect pellets during 2014 and 2015 breeding and post breeding periods of the species. Pellet analysis indicated that Orthoptera and Coleoptera were the main prey categories, which seem to have been the most specialized and dominant feeding choices of the species in the study area, while all other prey categories were rare and not specialized. Lesser Kestrel relied its diet on Orthoptera (Tettigoniidae and Acrididae), mainly during the breeding and post breeding phases, while the feeding strategy of the species during these two phases can be characterized as opportunistic. On the contrary, prior to the breeding phase, main prey category of the species in the study area was Coleoptera (Carabidae and Scarabaeidae). Moreover, a narrower niche breadth of the species based on Levins’ index, was recorded during the breeding phase for both years of the study, indicating that the species restricted the variety of the diet during this phase. Conclusively, the species during its whole breeding season made different prey choices, depending on the breeding phase and its specialized needs during each phase.

  6. Mapping the distribution of the Eurasian Hoopoe Upupa epops and the Pine Processionary Moth in Lebanon based on a Citizen Science approach

    Leila Rossa Mouawad, Salim Kattar, Jad Rizkallah, Dany El Obeid, Samara P. El Haddad & Karma Bou Azza

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    178 253
    The Pine Processionary Moth (PPM) Thaumetopoea wilkinsoni has long been attacking Mediterranean forests. In its management strategy, Lebanon has focused mainly on pesticides, leaving natural predators as an
    understudied control option. This study aims to understand the distribution of the Eurasian Hoopoe Upupa epops, by assessing the damage caused by the PPM. We attempted to explain the distribution of the two
    species, their relation to other factors and, with a Citizen Science (CS) approach, we developed their distribution maps. We found that the varying PPM damage between cadastral units was linked to Important Bird Areas (IBAs), highlighting the importance of multiple birds, including the Eurasian Hoopoe, as natural predators of this pest and calling for their conservation. As understudied species in Lebanon, this paper sets the path and offers guidelines for future researchers willing to work on similar crucial research in a climate change context and reveal the underlying relation between the two species.
  7. What species are being researched and why? A bibliometric analysis of breeding birds in Italy

    Maurizio Sarà

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    149 212
    The publication of updated works on the distribution, breeding and conservation status of Italian birds has stimulated an analysis of the factors that have so far guided the research. This was done through a bibliometric analysis of one of the largest scientific databases on the web. Two publication metrics were used, the total number of papers and the h-index. They express the quantity and the quality of research efforts
    through their impact on the scientific community. 791 articles concerning the 270 species reported in the Italian Atlas of Breeding Birds were selected and analysed by univariate statistics and negative binomial GLMs. Eight multilevel factors (origin of species, breeding phenology, main occupied habitat, population trends, degree of threat, national interest relative to population management, functional grouping and geographic range size) were used as potential predictors of species publication metrics. These 791 papers attracted 20,982 citations and had an overall h-index of 48. The publication years ranged from 1975 to 2023 with a significant increase in slope through time. The Barn Swallow leads the top ten of both publication metrics followed by the Lesser Kestrel and the Golden Eagle in the case of number of papers, while the Red-backed Shrike, and again the Lesser Kestrel follow the Barn Swallow in the first places of the h-index top ten. Main habitat, functional grouping and geographic range size are modelled as significant factors predicting a change in publication metrics, instead, the other five factors do not predict a significant change in both response variables. The lack of focus on research on species in numerical decline, threatened, or of national interest for population management reveals a main gap in Italian ornithological research. Another one is the skewed distribution of studies, with a not negligible 17% of breeding species that have never been the subject of a paper. These weaknesses are likely due to the low presence of ornithologists in local/national environmental and wildlife management bodies and to the uneven distribution of research groups among the Italian regions. Increasing the number of professional ornithologists and including them in local authorities and regional administrations is the best strategy to grow the levels of research and protection of Italian birds.
  8. Diet and prey availability of the Black Wheatear Oenanthe leucura in the El Hodna region (M’Sila, Algeria) 

    Fatima Boudrissa, Mourad Zemouri, Abdelazize Franck Bougaham

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    94 144

    The Black Wheatear Oenanthe leucura is distributed in the arid rocky landscapes of the Iberian
    Peninsula and North Africa. The species is insectivorous in the South of Europe, while its diet has not yet been
    studied in the North-African population. In this study, we looked into its prey choice and availability in the El
    Hodna area of M’Sila, Algeria. Prey availability was estimated during the breeding season 2020 by means of
    Pitfall traps, butterfly net, sweep net and sight hunting method. The prey groups consumed by the species in
    winter 2019 and spring 2020 were determined by using 219 faecal samples found on the different perches.
    Faecal samples analysis revealed 1656 prey items. The species’ diet is dominated by insects, which may be
    related to the great abundance of this prey group in the habitat. The Black Wheatear’s main food resources
    were ants, orthopterans and beetles. In the winter, the most consumed prey groups ranged in size from 7.31
    to 13.25 mm, whereas in the spring, they ranged from 1.5 to 7.37 mm. The most abundant taxonomic group
    during the breeding season were insects (RA = 97.64%), and Hymenoptera was the most widely accessible
    (RA = 72.6%) in the habitat of the species because of the apparent abundance of ants (RA = 71.14%). We
    determined the Ivlev index (Li), which enables a comparison between the species’ diet and the prey abundance
    in the habitat. According to the Ivlev Index, the Black Wheatear is an opportunistic bird, catching the majority
    of the area’s available prey.

  9. Short Communication - Gardening on oceanic islands: the non-native Great Kiskadee Pitangus sulphuratus as a potential seed disperser of the alien invasive Murraya paniculata in Bermuda

    Letizia Campioni, Martin Beal

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    118 136
    On vulnerable oceanic island ecosystems, non-native species may form novel mutualistic interactions with one another and foster establishment. On Bermuda, the omnivorous Great Kiskadee Pitangus sulphuratus was introduced to control the invasive Anolis lizard population, but feeds on many other species of plants and animals. Here we investigated whether the Kiskadee may act as an effective seed disperser of the introduced alien plant, the Orange Jessamine Murraya paniculata. In 2022 and 2023 we collected pellets regurgitated by Kiskadees, and found that 96% (N=26) contained Jessamine seeds. In 2023 we carried out an experiment to compare the germination rates of whole Jessamine fruits with manually de-fleshed seeds and those extracted from Kiskadee regurgitates. Across groups, Jessamine seeds germinated 52.6% of the time. We found only a non-significant tendency for de-fleshed seeds to germinate more often than seeds with flesh (67% vs 49%). Our study highlights that Kiskadee can act as an effective seed disperser of Jessamine in an oceanic island ecosystem.
  10. Columns - Italian Ornithological Commission (COI) - Report 31 

    Egidio Fulco & Cristiano Liuzzi (eds.)

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    224 375

     Italian Ornithological Commission (COI) – Report 31. This report refers to records from January 1st 2022 to December 31st 2022, with the addition of a number of records from previous years that were submitted more recently. For each species, the records are listed by date and information is given as follows: English and scientific name, number of accepted records pre- and post-1950 (the numbers in this abstract refer to the total number of records), number of individuals if more than one, age or plumage and sex if known, location, date, names of the observers, and available documentation (photograph, sound recording, specimen, etc.). According with the new CISO-COI Italian Checklist, which also includes subspecies, the taxonomy follows the HBW-BirdLife Check-list, as decided by the CISO council in 2018. A total of 40 records involving 31 taxa were assessed. The following 30 records, involving 22 taxa, were accepted, including six first records for Italy (Cat. AERC: A – COI Category 1A, 1B): Red-footed Booby Sula sula (Campania 2022; 1st record); White-tailed Lapwing Vanellus leucurus (Apulia 2022; 7th record); White-rumped Sandpiper Calidris fuscicollis (Latium 2022; 3rd record); Sharp-tailed Sandpiper Calidris acuminata (Sardinia 2022; 1st record); Franklin’s Gull Larus pipixcan (Liguria 2022; 6th record); Bonaparte’s Gull Larus philadelphia (Veneto 2022; 1st record); Glaucous Gull Larus hyperboreus (Veneto 2021; 20th record); Arctic Herring Gull (Vega Gull) Larus smithsonianus vegae (Marche 2022; 1st record); Roseate Tern Sterna dougallii (Friuli-Venezia-Giulia 2022; 5th record); Levant Sparrowhawk Accipiter brevipes (Latium 2021; 12th record ); East Siberian Merlin Falco columbarius insignis (Piedmont 1952; 1st record); Red-eyed Vireo Vireo olivaceus (Sicily 2022; 2nd record); Desert Shrike Lanius excubitor elegans/algeriensis (Campania 2021, Sicily 2022; 12th-13th record); Steppe Grey Shrike Lanius excubitor pallidirostris (Calabria 2022; 9th record); Brown Shrike Lanius cristatus (Tuscany 2021, Calabria 2021; 3rd-4th record); Isabelline Shrike Lanius isabellinus (Sicily 2021, Apulia 2022; 10th-11th record); Bar-tailed Lark Ammomanes cinctura (Sicily 2021, 2022; 5th-6th record); Olivaceus Warbler Iduna pallida (Sicily 2021; 14rd15th record); Eastern Bonelli’s Warbler Phylloscopus orientalis (Sicily 2010, 2022; Apulia 2022; 6th-8th record); Black-throated Wheatear Oenanthe seebohmi (Latium 2022; 2nd record); Caspian Stonechat Saxicola torquatus hemprichii (Latium 2022, Tuscany 2022; 6th-7th record); Eastern Yellow Wagtail Motacilla tschutschensis (Sicily 2021; 1st record). The addition of Red-footed Booby, Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, Bonaparte’s Gull, Arctic Herring Gull and Easter Yellow Wagtail Kittlitz’s Plover brings the Italian list to 562 accepted species. Records not accepted (COI List 5A, 5B) were: White-rumped Swift Apus caffer (Latium 2021); Pacific Golden Plover Pluvialis fulva (Emilia Romagna 2022, Apulia 2022); White-cheeked Tern Sterna repressa (Friuli-Venezia-Giulia 2022); Oriental Honey-buzzard Pernis ptilorhynchus (Calabria 2021); Arctic Warbler Phylloscopus borealis (Calabria 2022); Siberian Thrush Geokichla sibirica (Tuscany 2021); Oriental Reed-warbler Acrocephalus orientalis (Emilia Romagna 2022); Western Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava flavissima (Tuscany 2005).

  11. Columns - Bird News, December 2023

    Gaia Bazzi (ed.)

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    272 201

    In this volume of Avocetta, you will find a wealth of 28 bird news items. Congratulations to all the dedicated observers whose contributions have enriched the content of this volume.

  12. Columns - Book Review

    Avocetta Editorial Board

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    85 137

    Reviews of the following books:

    1. Conservation of Marine Birds. By Lindsay Young and Eric VanderWerf, Academic Press, 2022.

    Reviewed by Letizia Campioni (Associate Editor)
    2. The Green Woodpecker – The Natural & Cultural History of Picus viridis. By Gerard Gorman. Pelagic Publishing, 2023. 
    Reviewed by Letizia Campioni (Associate Editor)
    3. Atlante degli Uccelli Presentati in Inverno in Provincia di Brescia (Lombardia). Inverni 2012/2013 – 2018/2019. Edited by Daniele Vezzoli, Pierandrea Brichetti, Emanuele Forlani, Arturo Gargioni, Francesco Sottile, Paolo Trotti. Monografie n. 33 di Natura Bresciana, Museo Civico di Scienze Naturali di Brescia, 2021.
    Reviewed by Roberto Ambrosini (Editor-in-chief)