07 April 2009

Selection of a National Bird and Other Ornithological Activities in Mongolia

Selection is underway for a national bird for Mongolia.

"There are 12 candidate species to be selected by adults and children," said Dr. S. Gombobaatar, of the Mongolian Ornithological Society and National University of Mongolia. These include the Saker Falcon, Steepe Eagle, Golden Eagle, Gyr Falcon, Whooper Swan, White-naped Crane, Demoiselle Crane, Great Bustard, Lesser Sand Plover, Pallas’ Sandgrouse, Mongolian Lark, and Eurasian Eagle-Owl.

"Most countries have a national symbol bird," Gombobaatar said, "In Mongolia, a national bird has not yet been officially selected. That's why we started it, getting involved members of the Mongolian Ornithological Society (MOS), and students of the Ornithological Laboratory of National University of Mongolia. We hope to have other non-governmental organizations participating soon."

Members of the Mongolian Ornithological Society on an autumn bird migration survey. Images courtesy of Dr. S. Gombobaatar.

People can vote in one of three ways:

1. Directly send vote's questionnaires to local administrations
2. Through internet, with a checkbox list that allows easy voting at the MOS website
3. Message chat on mobile phone, which is being developed by the MOS  

The selection process started in October 2008, and will be finished in October 2009.

The MOS is currently also involved with other ornithology projects. The group is recognized for having the most experienced field people in the country for bird research, Gombobaatar said.

The professional bird watching and filming tours help to collect information and data of birds

The society has been organized professional bird watching and filming tours in Mongolia. These field trips help to gather information and data of birds specially rare and endangered birds in Mongolia. The trips are also significant to train young people to identify birds in the field and conserve birdlife in the country. Mostly students have involved in the trips as assistance in order to get field experience and improve English as well. If you someone want to help to gather and create database, and involve bird conservation in the country, you will most welcome to join in the field trips.

A field guide to the birds of Mongolia is expected to be published in June 2009.

"This is the first comprehensive field guide to the birds of Mongolia, and is being authored by S. Gombobaatar, Axel Braunlich (Germany) and Sh. Boldbaatar (Mongolian Academy of Sciences). The book is bilingual. An English edition will be published by A&C Black in the United Kingdom, and Mongolian edition by the support of World Bank and a few different sources."

The book’s contents, Gombobaatar said, are: Foreword, Introduction, How to Use this Book, Taxonomy and nomenclature, Descriptive Parts of the Bird, Key to distribution and status, Plumage terminology, Geography and climate, Main habitats, Important bird species, Migration, and bird-watching Areas. Information for each species will be given in separate accounts, with colour plates and family summaries. Also given will be details on organizations active in the country, references, people that helped get the book done, a glossary.  

Another publication in progress is a photographic album for the countries’ birds.

"This will be the first professional bird photo album in the country in English," Gombobaatar said. "We have planned to complete the book before June 2009. This book contents 150 pages with high quality bird photos including Mongolian bird specialties. Species photos have classified by natural zones. There are 20 species in taiga forest, 30 species in forest steppe, 15 steppe, 15 Gobi desert, 12 species in high mountains, 8 species in desert steppe, 15 species in variety different habitats, 6 species of vagrants and 30 species in wetlands, rivers and lakes including two-three habitat photos each natural zones.

Each page contains "a single photo of species showed distribution map, Global and regional status, names in nine different languages and photographers. Photos were taken by my colleagues in Mongolia. If someone is interested in this volume, we will very happy to collaborate on this matter."

"We are trying to raise funds to produce our photo album and dictionaries," Gombobaatar said. If someone wants to collaborate to raise a fund for this album we will write his/her names, logos and anything he/she wants on the book as financial supporter. Next year we are planning to produce a second volume of the book in large size (20x30 cm)."

Odkhuu with a Steppe Eagle chick in the nest in Central Mongolia, June 2007.

As a tool to help understand what is needed to conserve threatened species, a regional red data book will be published in 2009/2010 in Mongolian and English as well. An accompanying action plan for threatened bird species will be published in 2009/2010.

"We assess 487 species of bird species in Mongolia in a standard format," Gombobaatar said. Each account will give nomenclature, local and global status, geographic distribution, and dominant threats.

Within the country, these include human-induced habitat loss, land degradation through increases in livestock numbers and recreation, tourism, accidental mortality from fisheries related activities, Water pollution and drought, and human disturbance from recreation and tourism.

A dictionary of vertebrate animals of Mongolia published was just released.

Mongolia is a diverse country for birds and "The Mongolian Ornithological Society is one of the main bird research and conservation organizations in the country," according to details on their English-language website. "The Society has intensively organized bird research and conservation activities in collaboration with the National University of Mongolia." An important bird areas guide was prepared for eastern Mongolia in 2005.

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