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Front-cover illustration: Tree Sparrows Passer montanus 

Darren Woodhead

2          BB eye: Rethinking bird feeding         Richard K. Broughton, Jack D. Shutt and Alexander C. Lees

6          News and comment    Adrian Pitches

10        Identification of pekinensis Common Swift    Sylvain Reyt and Sébastien Roques

28        The taxonomic status of Red Grouse George Sangster, J. Martin Collinson, Guy M. Kirwan, Alan G. Knox, Barry J. McMahon, David Parkin, Manuel Schweizer and Jacob Höglund

39        Supplementary winter feeding for farmland birds     Michael Kettlewell, Stephen Edwards, Alan Larkman and Ian Wilkinson

49        Notes

52        Obituaries

53        Letters

55        Reviews

59        Recent reports


It’s a new year, which means… well, several new things. A new volume of BB, for one thing, complete with a new photo of the Editor, and, as the astute amongst you may have noticed, a slightly different size to the dimensions of the [print] journal. This 5-mm reduction in height has come about owing to difficulties in securing the size of paper we were using previously, and brings the size of BB into line with international standards. This means less paper wastage, no increase in printing costs, and much less risk that we’ll ever be forced to change the dimensions again. And the good news is that the height of the binders will stay the same, so there’ll be no step up on the bookshelf.

A new year also means an update to the taxonomy used in BB, which now follows IOC’s World Bird List v11.2. It’s appropriate, therefore, that this month’s issue contains a paper that will likely result in a future split – and no, it’s not another cryptic species. Red Grouse, the logo of British Birds and once upon a time Britain’s only endemic species, may, soon, see specific status once again according to the recommendations laid out in this month’s paper.

One thing that doesn’t change, new year or not, is the challenge posed by the identification of swifts. The Asian subspecies of Common Swift, Apus apus pekinensis, has occasionally been suspected to occur as a vagrant in Europe, but such is the difficulty in nailing the identification, there are not yet any confirmed records. Following publication of the identification paper in this month’s BB, could we soon see Europe’s first confirmed record of pekinensis

Our third main paper presents the benefits of daily supplementary feeding of farmland birds in winter. It may not be the silver bullet that declining farmland birds need, but the paper argues that widespread implementation of such feeding can at least help to slow declines, and that can only be a good thing for maintaining the future prospects of some of our species most in trouble.

Issue 1
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