The role of amateur birders in ornithology

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Amateur birders have always played an important role in collecting information that ornithologists find useful to write their papers and monograph. This has been clearly seen in the recent book by Dr David Wells, The Birds of the Thai-Malay Peninsula Vol. I. In the preamble to his book, he paid tribute to professionals whose theses and scientific papers provided useful materials. At the same time he recognized the contributions of amateurs, especially members of the Nature Societies in Malaysia and Singapore. The Malaysian society publishes Enggang while the Singapore counterpart is Singapore Avifauna (SINAV).
The Nature Society (Singapore)’s Bird Group (BG) recently made a detailed check on the number of citations from SINAV in Wells’ book. It yielded 168 citations for a total of 118 species under various aspects of birdlife such as identification & distribution; status & population; habitat & ecology; breeding; geographical variation; movement; foraging & food; moult; social interaction; and social organisation.
This is indeed quite a contribution by SINAV to the ornithology of Singapore. It certainly changes my earlier erroneous impressions of the publication. And this is only the first volume, covering the non-passerine group. The second volume covering the passerine group is coming out soon. I am waiting eagerly to make another count to prove the above point.
Well done, Singapore Avifauna!

NOTE: Unfortunately, when I made the above post, I was not aware of the unwillingness of the Bird Group leadership to make the publication available to Dr David Wells, who was then working on Vol I of “The birds of the Thai-Malay Peninsular” – LINK.

YC Wee
Singapore
3rd October 2005

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