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  1. Gonçalo Elias

    Flamingos breeding in Portugal!

    The ICNF has announced today that two colonies of Flamingos are now in activity in Portugal, for the first time ever. Both colonies are located in protected areas (the exact location has not been disclosed). Isolated breeding attempts have been recorded in the past, involving one or two pairs...
  2. Gonçalo Elias

    Sylvia conspicillata bella

    Hi all, I am trying to figure out what is the correct name for the Madeiran population of Spectacled Warbler: Sylvia conspicillata bella or Sylvia conspicillata orbitalis. It seems that bella is invalid and I would like to understand why. Thanks.
  3. Gonçalo Elias

    Cinderella Waxbill

    The small Cinderella Waxbill Estrilda thomensis has a funny English name. Probably the English name comes from the scientific name given by Neumann in 1908: Estrilda cinderella. However this name is not valid since Estrilda thomensis has precedence. Despite being an invalid name, it would...
  4. Gonçalo Elias

    Odd Sparrow from Portugal

    Just saw this picture taken today at Odemira, southern Portugal, by Daniel Santos. Is it a mutant House Sparrow, a hybrid or something else?
  5. Gonçalo Elias

    Columba livia dakhlae

    There is a subspecies of Rock Dove / Feral Pigeon called Columba livia dakhlae. According to wikipedia, "The oasis rock dove (C. l. dakhlae) (Richard Meinertzhagen, 1928) – Found only in two oases in central Egypt, it is smaller and much paler than the nominate subspecies." There is a place...
  6. Gonçalo Elias

    Age of this Spanish Sparrow?

    Hi all, While browsing on flickr I found this picture of an odd Spanish Sparrow taken in Madeira in June 2017 by Gabriel Moreira. I am trying to figure out the age of this bird. The description says it's a young one. At first sight it could indeed be a young doing a full post-juvenile moult...
  7. Gonçalo Elias

    Passer iagoensis

    Cape Verde Sparrow is called Passer iagoensis. The specific name comes from São Tiago, which is the largest island in the archipelago. It should be noted that São Tiago is a variant from Santiago, which is a corruption from Santo Iago (Saint James in English). Iago, not Tiago, is the root...
  8. Gonçalo Elias

    Willow Warbler - 'eversmanni'-type

    Hi everyone, I have seen several times the expression 'eversmanni-type' referring to Willow Warbler. As far as I understand this name does not correspond to any subspecies, but I was unable to find out what it means or where it came from. Is it an invalid name? An unrecognized subspecies? A...
  9. Gonçalo Elias

    Barbary Dove

    Hello, I am aware that the taxonomy of the Barbary Dove is somewhat controversial. This bird is sometimes referred to as Streptopelia roseogrisea var. 'risoria'. My question relates to the name risoria: should it be written in italic and between quotes?
  10. Gonçalo Elias

    A question about non-breeding Pin-tailed Whydah

    Hi all, I would like to know if there is a good criterion for sexing Pin-tailed Whydahs in the field (not in the hand) outside the breeding season. The bill colour does not seem to be useful, as both males and females show a red-bill during that time. Anything in the head pattern, perhaps? Or...
  11. Gonçalo Elias


    Hi all, According to the Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World, the Owl family Strigidae comprises several subfamilies. One of these subfamilies is called Ieraglaucinae. I checked James Jobling's Dictionary, and Ieraglaux is listed as a synonym for Ninox, so I guess the subfamily...
  12. Gonçalo Elias

    Little Bustard in sharp decline

    During the last 30 years there has been a strong decline in the population and distribution area of Little Bustards in Portugal (and Spain). Here are two maps. The one on the left is from the first Portuguese breeding bird atlas (1978-1984), the other one is from eBird and refers to spring...
  13. Gonçalo Elias

    Little Bustard in sharp decline

    During the last 30 years there has been a strong decline in the population and distribution area of Little Bustards in Portugal (and Spain). Here are two maps. The one on the left is from the first breeding bird atlas (1978-1984), the other one is from eBird and refers to spring records during...
  14. Gonçalo Elias

    Crested Myna in Lisbon

    Crested Mynas were first reported in the Lisbon region in 1998 and have been expanding fast since then. Here is a small animation that shows how the distribution area has been increasing since 2000. (source of the maps: eBird)
  15. Gonçalo Elias

    Hume's Leaf Warbler - third for Portugal

    A Hume's Leaf Warbler was found last Friday 20 November at Quinta de Marim, Olhão, Algarve and has been seen by many observers since then. This is the third record for Portugal.
  16. Gonçalo Elias

    São Tomé Island

    São Tomé is an island in the Gulf of Guinea off West Africa. There are several endemic birds and most of them they carry names that refer to this place. Most of these names end in -ensis, like Corythornis thomensis, Columba thomensis, Estrilda thomensis, Dreptes thomensis, Tyto alba thomensis...
  17. Gonçalo Elias

    Puffinus baroli

    The Barolo Shearwater is named after "Carlo Tencredi Falletti Marchese di Barolo (1782–1838), Italian philanthropist and collector of books and objets d’art" (according to Jamed Joblling's dictionary). As far as I could find, this man was not directly connected to science. Maybe he sponsored...
  18. Gonçalo Elias

    Larus gelastes

    The name Larus gelastes has been proposed (and used!) for the Slender-billed Gull. As far as I understand it was proposed by Lichtenstein. But at some stage it must have been considered invalid... I can't understand why. Any hints?
  19. Gonçalo Elias


    Many names start with cyano which means blue. However, it is not clear to me whether this word comes from Greek or Latin. According to James Jobling's dictionary, some names such as Cyanoliseus are marked as coming from "Gr. kuanos dark-blue", while others like Cyanopica are labelled "L...
  20. Gonçalo Elias

    Chaffinch: Fringilla coelebs tintillon

    Hi all, There used to be a race of Chaffinch of the Canary Islands called Fringilla coelebs tintillon. According to this site https://www.biolib.cz/en/taxon/id249243/, Fringilla (coelebs) tintillon was proposed by Webb, Berthelot & Moquin-Tandon in 1841 However, it seems that this name is no...
  21. Gonçalo Elias

    Hoopoe (Upupa epops)

    I have been wondering about the origin of the name Upupa Is it an onomatopoeia? According to James Jobling's Dictionary, the word comes straight from Latin, but would make sense that the Latin word itself was onomatopoeic, just like Cuculus. Any opinions?
  22. Gonçalo Elias

    Madeira and Azores subspecies

    Both Madeira and the Azores have several local subspecies. Some of these subspecies are named after people but a few remain unclear to me: Accipiter nisus granti (Madeira) - there are several people called Grant with birds named after them, which is the correct one in this case? Sturnus...
  23. Gonçalo Elias

    Crested Lark - some subspecies

    Hi all, I would like to understand the origin or meaning of these subspecific names of Crested Lark Galerida cristata: G. c. festae (from Libya) - I found some ornithological publications that mention a "Dr Festa"; additionally, a North African subspecies of Rüppell's Fox Vulpes rueppellii...
  24. Gonçalo Elias

    Calidris melanotos + Tringa melanoleuca

    Hi all, I would like to understand the origin of these two names: Calidris melanotos - the specific name stands for black back, however this bird is not really black on the back. Does this name make sense? Tringa melanoleuca - the specific name means black and white, however these two colours...
  25. Gonçalo Elias

    Alagoas Brancas is about to be destroyed

    Alagoas Brancas is a small freshwater pool at the southern edge of Lagoa. This place attracts hundreds of waterbirds, including ducks, ibises, spoonbills, egrets, waders and rails. Unfortunately the site is unprotected and it is about to be destroyed in order to build a new supermarket.