Assessing long-term changes in the raptor fauna of the Fertile Crescent by reference to the nineteenth century works of Canon HB Tristram
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The Reverend Canon HB Tristram was the first serious observer of birds in Palestine, then part of the Ottoman Empire, which he visited six times between 1858 and 1897. We focus on two of his works, published in 1865, 1867 and 1884, which provide summaries of his other works. We compared his observations with more recent ones on the raptor fauna in Palestine in its pre-1948 borders and were struck by the diversity and richness of the raptor fauna he observed. Some species have become regionally extinct in the intervening period (eg Brown Fish Owl Ketupa zeylonensis) and others show differences from Tristram’s era (eg breeding of the Black Kite Milvus migrans). We suggest that further studies of old literature might generate useful indicators of human induced habitat changes and other environmental impacts, including climate change.
- Faculty of Science