Explanation of the ORL

Syrian Serin Serinus syriacus © Aurélien Audevar​

Version 9.2 January 2024

  1. Given the complexities and subtleties of species’ relationships that have arisen from recent research, the ORL on occasions deals with undefined taxa (eg see the treatment of Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava), where remaining with species and clearly-defined subspecies would have been constricting. Hence, some under-researched populations that comprise mainly a distinct ‘form’ are listed, reasons being given in the ‘Notes’ column.
  2. The purpose of the ORL is not to provide comprehensive details of distribution, status or occurrence within the Middle East, Caucasus and Central Asia, but rather to summarise such material and to provide ample cross-references. Much is already covered in many major references. The ORL often comments on species distribution limits (the edges of distribution ranges), partly because the OSME Region now includes the Caucasus and Central Asian republics and covers a wide area of the Indian Ocean. For example, many northern species reach their normal southern breeding distribution limit within Kazakhstan. Fuller descriptions of the distribution ranges of species in every OSME Region country doubtless will arise as part of the development of the ORL becomes a source for country-by-country checklists within the Region. Red font generally indicates information added or amended since the previous ORL issue, but may also in the ‘Notes’ column indicates some difficulty with proof of occurrence, usually a lack of documentation, or material of special importance. We use shading to highlight lines and fill to highlight cells. For example, pale green shading indicates the former presence of a form in the OSME Region. A fuller explanation is given at the start of the Non-Passerine, Passerine and Hypothetical sections (Parts A, C and E) of the ORL.
  3. Not all synonyms have been examined. Not all subspecies are listed, but mention is made of those that: have at times have been considered (or disputed) as full species; exhibit high levels of diagnosability; are listed by some authorities under a different name, or whose distribution, particularly in Central Asian republics, is not well known.
  4. Serial numbers (SN) in the first column of the ORL are merely an aid and will change if lines are deleted or added – please do not cite these as species numbers except in direct communication with us. Compass cardinals (eg N=north, SE=southeast) are used.
  5. We include Parent Taxon (PT) lines for selected cases, not only where earlier records antedate splits, but also in cases such as paragraph 1 above.
  6. We seek information, especially where backed by references, to develop and improve the ORL. Although the appearance of bird information on the Web may be useful, it carries no weight if not backed up by written-up accounts and records. After all, Web information alone is characteristically ephemeral, often disappearing without warning. We will treat all information in confidence but will need to evaluate it stringently through external referees at times. Data that are accepted will be used to amend the ORL and credit will be given.
  7. Hypothetical species that have an unproven and possibly unlikely presence in the OSME Region are given in Part E, which also includes a number of taxa whose presence has not yet been documented following a taxonomic split. We seek detailed accounts of any reports of such Hypothetical species
  8. The Non-passerine and Passerine Lists (Parts A & C) each have their own full reference lists (Parts B & D respectively); these also contain additional references cited only in the Hypothetical List (Part E). All references, save those designated as fundamental, are cited in the ORL ‘Notes’ column. Abbreviated references cited in the Remarks column of the ORL are explained in the reference lists.
  9. We make an important distinction in the ORL between a ‘report’ and a ‘record’. A ‘report’ of a species’ occurrence is treated as unproven – this does not mean that the occurrence is unlikely or will not be accepted by national rarities committees, where these exist. Nevertheless, before acceptance as a ‘record’, full documentation is essential. There will be cases where documentation cannot be found or has disappeared – such cases would be considered on their merits. Ideally, a ‘report’ of a species should have been validated and accepted as a ‘record’ in some way beforehand, whether by records committee or through ‘experts’ agreeing in the manner of records committees, but we attach great importance to any documentation supporting the ‘record’. ‘Reports’, however they may be treated elsewhere, are by definition Secondary References in the ORL and by themselves are not acceptable as evidence of identification or existence of a species. ‘Records’ are defined as meeting the necessary criteria, and thus are cited in the ORL as Primary References. However, we note that all ‘records’ began as ‘reports’ and we further recognise that worldwide more long-established ornithological ‘records’ than we would like have subsequently been deemed invalid, for a variety of reasons!
  10. We would appreciate that any proposed amendments cite the relevant documentation in full and that any such drafts should take the form of a Word or Excel document, the detail proposed amendment being in blue font and incorporating the ‘Track Changes’ facility for ease of discussion.
  11. The ORL Formal Edition began at version 1.0 (2004). Updating the ORL originally took takes the form of decimalised numbered versions as required, eg 1.2, 1.3 et seq. Once significant changes accumulated, or a large taxonomic revision is required, the ORL as a whole will be raised to the next whole-number version; eg v2.0 included the dismemberment of the traditional Sylviidae grouping. From v4.1, versions will run from X.1 onwards, not from X.0: we aim to produce updates biannually.
  12. The Simplified ORL (SORL) comprises Part F. The SORL usually is issued in a new version just after each new ORL full version (eg 1.0, 2.0, 3.0 et seq), but maybe delayed, or also appear as a new version should the ORL Team deem any individual amendment is required. The SORL is a simple list of OSME Region bird taxa for everyday use. We encourage the use of the English and scientific names it contains in any informal correspondence to OSME or any other organisation or individual. The SORL version numbering normally matches that of the ORL.