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Breeding bird species in ‘notable decline’ in Ajloun Forest Reserve

By Hana Namrouqa - Aug 13,2018 - Last updated at Aug 14,2018

AMMAN — Densities and populations of most breeding bird species in Ajloun Forest Reserve have “considerably declined” over the past three years in the evergreen Oak forest, a newly-released study indicated.

Carried out by the studies section at the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN) in 2017 and released recently, the study attributed the decline in the population of several breeding bird species, to some extent, to weather-related factors.

The study, a copy of which was made available to The Jordan Times, was implemented as part of a monitoring programme to evaluate the densities and populations of breeding species within the reserve, which the RSCN eyes as “one of the most important bird areas in northern Jordan”.

“Twenty-Seven point counts, for monitoring breeding bird populations, were carried out in the reserve, which covers an area of 12 square kilometres. This survey did not include the key species tawny owl, which is the subject of a species-specific monitoring programme,” according to the RSCN’s studies section.

Point counts are one of several methods used to inventory and monitor bird populations. It is a tally of all birds detected by sight and sound by a single observer located at a fixed position during a specified period of time, according to web sources.

Results of the study indicated that key bird species, the wren and blue tit, showed decreases since a similar study was conducted in 2014. The study, however, indicated that while the decline in the population of the blue tit was minor, standing at -9 per cent, the population remained higher than figures recorded in 2006 and 2009.

The decline in the population of the wren was for its part higher, standing at -51 per cent, according to the study.

It also indicated that the most common members of the bird community in the reserve in 2017 were respectively the Sardinian warbler, blue tit, blackbird, lesser whitethroat, house sparrow, great tit, wren, jay, greenfinch, white-spectacled bulbul and Palestine sunbird.

“Only Sardinian warbler, blue tit, blackbird and lesser whitethroat had populations of over 1,000 individuals. Linnet and turtle dove were the next most common species for which relative densities could be calculated,” the study indicated, concluding that most species had considerably declined since 2014, with the sardinian warbler, greenfinch and turtle dove, which had all increased substantially, being an exception.

“No clear reasons for these changes are apparent. However, wrens are known to be adversely affected by severe winter weather, while blue tit, great tit and jay may be affected by changes in the abundance of acorns,” according to the RSCN’s studies section.

The study recommended that the monitoring of breeding bird populations continue once every two or three years, indicating that Ajloun Forest Reserve continues to be an exceptional place for wildlife of all kinds in Jordan with a very healthy breeding bird community.

Ajloun Forest Reserve, located in the Ajloun highlands north of Amman, covers 13 square kilometres. It supports a wide variety of wild plants and animals, among which are the Striped Hyena, Crested Porcupine and Stone Marten, according to the website of Wild Jordan, RSCN’s marketing arm.

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