In October last year proposal was addressed to the South American Classification Committee (SACC) to treat Pluvianellidae (Magellanic Plover) as a subfamily of Chionidae (Sheathbills). The Pluvianellidae is considered to be a monotypic family among shorebirds since it was elevated from Charadriidae. As a result of previous genetic studies it was then treated as the sister family of Chionidae.
The current proposal didn’t pass due to the lack of evidence. Both the uniqueness of the behaviour of Magellanic Plover (means also different from that of the Sheathbills) and the genetic data supports the family status of the Pluvianellidae being in close relation to Chionidae.
In the large majority of my life I spent and wasted an awful lot of time for listening others what they are saying or thinking about me. I didn’t like to hear behind my back that I was a dreamer. I didn’t like to hear the cynical comments about my ambitious publishing project of shorebirds of the world. As I became wiser (I hope, I did), I learned that those energies, what I used to meet others expectations, should rather be used for more important activities and self-education. I no longer listen to the cynical words, in fact those make me much stronger than ever.
A couple of years ago I had a dream, a big one. The dream was to make a beautiful handbook of all the shorebirds of the world. I thought I had every skill and knowledge to turn it into reality. And I still believe in it! However, in those early days I wasn’t really ready of facing the financial challenges of such a massive project. The financial crash of a promising investor at the explosion of the global money balloon made my dream rather distant and foggy. I didn’t give it up though. In the background I still have been working hard on the project to make it happen. No matter what the timeframe is and no matter who will or will not help, but that book will be published. But I still hear “He is a dreamer”.
Hiroshi Mikitani, the CEO of Rakuten Inc., is wonderfully arguing with those who say that “dreaming is the privilege of the young”. He writes in his note, The Profitability of Dreams, recently posted on LinkedIn :
This is another sample plate from the handbook. The Common Greenshank plate is probably the last shared one for the public before the book is published. Enjoy the artwork made by Szabolcs Kókay (Szabi). Plates might change during the preparation of the book but the main principle will never be changed. We bring all the current knowledge together on either the identification of shorebirds or on their actual status into a beautiful handbook.
In the future of plate design we will involve some very sharp eyed and critic birders who can provide valuable feedback on the main characteristic of species especially on subspecies level. We got very useful comments on this Common Greenshank plate posted earlier on the project’s Facebook fan page. Birders from Asia suggested to illustrate the head of eastern races separately as being much longer billed than the European ones.
Should you feel you are an expert of shorebirds we happily add you to our review team to preview the layout of future plates before they are completed by our excellent artist.
Obviously loads of information about shorebirds is available and much more to come in the coming years. The handbook will be an ultimate summary about the actual knowledge on shorebirds on a global level. Based on our calculation it is close to impossible to include all the species with colour plates, images, maps and texts into a single volume book unless we want to produce a monster size book. Our design requires splitting the list of shorebirds and publish the species accounts it in two easy (easier) to handle volumes.
According to our official nomenclature and the current taxonomy of shorebirds published by IOU (previously IOC) the following families will be included in each of the volumes.
The inclusion of Quail-plover is tentative as its relationships is uncertain. According to IOC it is possibly related to Coursers. Confirmation is needed.
The cover design ideas will be published in the first half of 2013. You can participate in our official polls (Volume 1 Cover Species and Volume 2 Cover Species) to select the cover species of each volume. Artworks will also be available in 2013.
About 1400-1700 images of all the shorebird species in many different plumage variations will be published in The New Shorebirds Handbook. The image editorial team is selecting high quality images for both volumes. We have been partnered a fast growing image agency, the BirdImAgency, which collects and organises top quality bird images on global level. Beside this partnership we aimed to offer a chance for those bird photographers who are not contracted with the agency but having excellent bird photographs. We know there are plenty of them.
For this (and for another) reason I created a new blog-style website, the Shorebird Image Library with visibility ONLY to contributors. It is important to clarify that those images which are going to be uploaded to the collection by different contributors will NOT be used for any purposes other than viewing and evaluating by The New Shorebirds Project Image Editor Team. This is for possible selection and future purchase for the handbook.
If you are a bird photographer and you think your images are worth to look at, feel free to add images following the guidelines. Contribution is upon request. Once you request a contributor status I add you to the list of authors and you will be able to start submitting images (login to WordPress is needed!). You can request for contribution either by e-mail or in the comment field (name and e-mail address is required).
It has been clear that by the publication date of The New Shorebirds Handbook a large majority of the published books will be read in digital format. Even today the gadgets are supporting excellent reading experiences and the additional features over the paper formats make the publications more enjoyable and interactive. We really would like to know what is your dictum on the possible features a digital handbook should deliver. In this poll we listed a few options but multiple choices are allowed.
The cute Dunlin is the icon of the ‘Non-breeding Shorebird Mapping Project’ made by Jon Villasper.
One of the reasons I have set the WorldWaders website a few years ago was to provide close to accurate distribution maps and tracking changes of the numbers of shorebirds on a global level. The program is still running while a part of the website is under redesign to make data entry way more easier. I have been happy by the number of records submitted but still a lot of things must be done to have more coverage and datasets.
The website aimed to collect data on shorebird numbers, their distribution and every kind of literature (PDFs and/or links to papers) published on them. Registration is needed (unfortunately) but that is easy and simple. I encourage our readers to make a visit and being part in making this handbook.
There has been some confusion regarding the status of Buttonquails as well as the Quail-plover. Since the project aimed to follow the IOC (IOU) checklist we should not worry much about the recent changes in the taxonomy of Buttonquails published in different sources. The other major taxonomic reference, the Clements Checklist sequenced the Buttonquails and the Quail-plover among the ‘conventional’ shorebirds placed between Red Phalarope and Egyptian Plover. Also the very popular and detailed alternative TiF Checklist managed by John H. Boyd III treats buttonquails among the shorebirds (placed between Giant Snipe and Crab Plover including Quail-plover).
If we would be strict in not breaking the sequence of one of the leading official checklists and use it as is, the 15 buttonquail species should be added to the handbook’s species account.
In the next couple of months we will be answered whether the list of shorebird species expands or stays relatively stable.
By this poll we let our readers to help in the selection of the cover species for each volume. Make your vote now for Volume 1 and help us to decide which of these excellent species should be illustrated on the cover page.
One of the most exciting part of designing colour plates is to decide which plumage phases should be illustrated. The principle of design is to help identify shorebirds in as many plumage variations as possible following their full life cycle. For some species it is simple (e.g. Pied Avocet) while for others (e.g. Ruff) it is challenging. This plate of Spotted Redshank is a lovely one. Szabolcs’s artwork displays everything we need for understanding the moult of juveniles and adults or even some habitat preference of breeding birds. He is studying birds in the field and is prepared by a lot of sketches before starting to draw and paint the plates. In a later post we will introduce the way we work on plates.
A new donation page has been added to this site. This huge and ambitious project requires a lot of support what we have been receiving since it was kicked off but we need to ensure the progress of the project to meet the targets. Should you have a possibility to support us please visit the ‘Donation‘ page and make any kind of donation by clicking on the PayPal ‘Donate‘ button.
I have been following avian taxonomic changes for a while. One of the forthcoming changes to be made by IOU (formerly IOC) is the splitting of American races of Whimbrel (Numenous phaeopus). The Hudsonian Whimbrel (Numenius hudsonicus) will then be a brand new species to write about and to make a colour plate of. Until the project freeze we expect some other wader subspecies to be elevated to species level (probably Snowy Plover, Kentish Plover, Willet, Dunlin?). The Project has been following the IOC/IOU’s taxonomic list sequence and English naming.
Note that the image is not colour corrected. It is just a photograph of the plate.
One of the most important feature of The New Shorebirds Handbook is the detailed illustration plates. The artwork is made by the award winning wildlife artist, Szabolcs Kókay. Szabolcs is a Hungarian artist with incredible sense of illustrating fine details. I am enjoying every minutes working with him on the plates and the book in general. I am happy to preview one of the finished plates, the gorgeous Curlew Sandpiper. We aimed to illustrate every single species in all major plumage variations and characteristics. Based on previous feedbacks we achieved to have something great to put together into a beautiful book.
It is a big headache to design and plan colour plates as taxonomy changes quite frequently but the known potential splits will be illustrated at the end of the project. By then a lot of field sketches and decisions have to be made.