Working for birds in Africa

Birds to find: a review of 'lost', obscure and poorly known African bird species

p 139-157

Summary. There are at least nine threatened and eight Data Deficient bird species in Africa for which there are no recent records, including four which lack documented records for over 50 years (Prigogine's Nightjar Caprimulgus prigoginei, known with certainty only from a 1955 specimen; Archer's Lark Heteromirafra archeri, last recorded in 1922; Bliintschli's Vanga Hypositta perdita, known only from two specimens dated 1931; and Black-lored Waxbill Estrilda nigriloris, last recorded in 1950). Birdwatchers can make a valuable contribution to the conservation of these 'lost' species, in some cases initially by confirming their continued existence. Through visiting the areas and sites from where the species are known, or likely to occur, and by collecting data on the occurrence, abundance, habitat needs and basic ecology of these species, birders can provide the foundation from which conservation action can flow. In this review, I provide short summaries for the 17 species that have not been recently recorded, plus for a selection of 20 other poorly known threatened or Data Deficient species, including the enigmatic Nechisar Nightjar Caprimulgus solala which is known only from a wing. Most birders in Africa seem to visit the same well-established sites, but there is tremendous opportunity to apply their skills and resources in a way that will deliver significant conservation benefits. Why not venture off the beaten path, track down these species, and assist their conservation?

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