Editors’ picks

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Highlights from the latest issue

January 2021 | Vol. 163, issue 1
We’re pleased to deliver another packed issue we have two review papers, 16 full papers, five short communications, a Forum article and our regular book reviews.

Here, Editor in Chief, Dominic McCafferty, has selected four of his highlights.

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    Killing of raptors on grouse moors: evidence and effects
    Ian Newton
    Given the recent legislation in Scotland to license grouse moors, this review by Ian Newton provides a timely summary of the recent scale of illegal raptor killing on grouse moors and its effects on populations. Across Britain most raptors have increased since the 1970s but more recently populations of some species have decreased on and nearby grouse moors. Ian Newton lists extensive evidence of greater disappearance of nesting pairs, decreased nesting success, disappearance of satellite‐tracked birds, occurrence of poisoned baits and traps, and shot or poisoned carcasses of raptors on grouse moors compared to other areas. Newton acknowledges the entrenched positions of grouse shooting supporters and conservation bodies and calls for dialogue, mutual understanding and compromise to lessen the conflict over this illegal killing of raptors. View
    Effect of GPS tagging on behaviour and marine distribution of breeding Arctic Terns Sterna paradisaea
    Adam Seward, Rachel C. Taylor, Martin R. Perrow, Richard J. Berridge, Katharine M. Bowgen, Stephen Dodd, Ian Johnstone & Mark Bolton
    Telemetry is commonly used to track birds but studies on the impacts of tracking tags on study animals are rarely published. To address this knowledge gap Adam Seward and colleagues compared the foraging distributions of breeding Arctic Terns obtained by GPS‐tracking with non-tagged birds followed visually by boat. The distributions of tagged birds were 75-80% larger, and birds fitted with both a GPS tag and a leg flag spent less time at the nest compared to unhandled birds or those fitted only with a leg flag. Seward et al. showed that both treatments where birds were fitted with a leg flag had similarly lower provisioning rates than unhandled control birds suggesting that negative effects on provisioning were due to capture and handling or leg‐flag attachment rather than GPS tag attachment or loading. The authors conclude that estimates of density distribution of tagged Arctic Terns were similar to those of unmanipulated birds and acknowledge the impacts of tagging on their behaviour.
    Winter feeding influences the cost of living in boreal passerines
    Juli Broggi, Esa Hohtola & Kari Koivula
    There is considerable debate over the effects of supplementary feeding and how this may alter energetics of wild birds. Working in a northern Finnish forest in winter, Juli Broggi, Esa Hohtola and Kari Koivula found that Willow and Blue Tits were heavier, larger and exhibited a higher energy cost of living when captured at feeders, compared to individuals captured further away. Interestingly, their results show that winter feeding has species‐specific effects on overall energy management and conclude that this alters the response of passerines to environmental conditions in winter.
    The importance of guano birds to the Inca Empire and the first conservation measures implemented by humans eggs
    Pedro Rodrigues & Joana Micael
    Wildlife management may appear to be a recent endeavour of governments and conservation groups but this is not so. In this thought-provoking Forum article, Pedro Rodrigues and Joana Micael show that the Inca Empire developed management plans based on a penal code in order to preserve three species of guano birds. Guano from the Guanay Cormorant, Peruvian Pelican and Peruvian Booby was used as a fertilizer to sustain the agricultural development of the ancient South American empire, giving food security to a population of more than 8 million. Rodrigues and Micael conclude that these actions may represent the first conservation measures ever implemented by humans to protect species for human livelihoods.
Other items

52nd report of the BOU Records Committee
Godman Salvin Prize – Theunis Piersma
Obituary – Clive Minton
Book reviews
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Image credits
From top:
Dead buzzard | © RSPB Images
Arctic Tern | Denali National Park and Preserve CC BY 2.0 Wikimedia Commons
Willow Tit | CC00 PD pixabay.com
Guoao | Accatenazzi GFDL Wikimedia Commons