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1 April 2001 Atlas das Aves Invernantes do Baixo Alentejo (Atlas of the Winter Birds of Lower Alentejo)
Philip C. Stouffer
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Atlas das Aves Invernantes do Baixo Alentejo (Atlas of the Winter Birds of Lower Alentejo).— Edited by Gonçalo L. Elias, Luís M. Reino, Tiago Silva, Ricardo Tomé, and Pedro Geraldes. 1998. Portuguese Society for the Study of Birds, Lisbon, Portugal. 416 pp., approximately 180 unnumbered maps, 180 black-and-white drawings, 16 tables and figures. ISBN 972-96786-2-6. Paper, approx. US$40.00. In Portuguese, with English summaries. Available from: Sociedade Portuguesa para o Estudo de Aves, Rua da Vítoria, 53-2°D, 1100 Lisboa, Portugal (contact for more information).—During the winters of 1992–1995, a large group of Portuguese bird enthusiasts set out to quantify the distribution and abundance of birds in Baixo Alentejo, a region in southern Portugal about the size of Connecticut. Their results are presented in this attractive book that follows the general format of the breeding bird atlases recently prepared for many U.S. states. Indeed, the book is meant to complement the breeding bird atlas for continental Portugal.

The species accounts will probably attract most readers, but the volume also includes four introductory chapters. The first describes the geography, vegetation types, and climate. The second chapter, on methods, allows the reader to interpret the maps in the species accounts. A goal of the work is to present quantitative data on abundance throughout the region, based on 2–4 visits to each of the 166 100 km2 blocks. This chapter also describes tape-playback methods for surveying owls and the adjustments for species whose detection was highly dependent on the length of the observation period. It is interesting to note that for most species the abundance is presented as birds/visit, without correction for the length of the visit. This is in contrast to analyses of Christmas Count data, which are based on birds/party-hour. Summaries of the data in the third and fourth chapters include patterns of species richness and abundance, distribution of vulnerable species, and designation of areas most important for conservation. Each chapter includes an English summary.

Species accounts form the bulk of the volume, with two pages dedicated to each of 169 species. I could not find the taxonomy explicitly stated, but it appears to follow Cramp and his collaborators' Birds of the Western Palearctic series. Abundance is mapped as scaled circles (as percentage of maximum abundance) for each block in which the species was recorded. Obviously, there is no way to judge the coverage of the various habitats within each block, so it is difficult to interpret whether low recorded abundance reflects lower density or just less time spent surveying the appropriate habitat when that habitat is rare. Species accounts also include black-and-white drawings by a variety of artists, and brief English summaries. Many of the drawings are excellent and combine well with the maps to give a certain visual charm to the accounts. Unfortunately, the Portuguese text, presented in a large font, gets reduced to less than a page and includes relatively little information. The species accounts were written by about 30 different authors so they vary somewhat in style, but most include a summary of the overall species distribution and their preferred habitats within the study area, the timing of migration, the source of Portuguese birds, and population trends within and beyond the study area. Most accounts include references, although these are usually very general. Each account also includes an English summary. Marine birds and accidental species (with occurrence dates) are considered in a separate section.

Anyone interested in the distribution of Iberian birds will want to have this book. However, it is probably too specialized to become an important resource for most North American ornithologists. The most useful feature is the maps; readers unfamiliar with Portuguese should still find the information useful.

Philip C. Stouffer "Atlas das Aves Invernantes do Baixo Alentejo (Atlas of the Winter Birds of Lower Alentejo)," The Auk 118(2), 568-569, (1 April 2001).[0568:]2.0.CO;2
Published: 1 April 2001
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