First and foremost, this field guide is for all Armenians,particularly those who are just beginning an interest in Armenian birds. It also is written for anyone having a general interest in birds, and more specifically, for those with a special interest in the birds that occur within the borders of the Republic of Armenia. Another hopeful intention of this guide is to stimulate and encourage bird study, so that a greater appreciation for birds will result in a greater appreciation of nature and its conservation in Armenia. Moreover, as more and more of the Armenian people learn how numerous, diverse, useful, and fascinating these animals are in the Republic, they will be inspired to further admire, enjoy, and more fully appreciate and care for them as valuable national treasures.
Worldwide, but especially in the Republic of Armenia, it is accurate to claim that birds are an under-appreciated source of enjoyment, and value to the overall health of humanity. Alternatively, birds have always been of some interest to most people, if only because of their beauty and our fascination with their ability to fly. Throughout history, their mastery of the air has intrigued and stimulated human imagination and ingenuity in an attempt to copy their seemingly effortless flight. In modern times, scientists have studied birds as valuable and often essential indicators of environmental health. The health of the Armenian environment has a direct effect on the health of its citizens, and all others living within the borders of the Republic. The use of this book by the general public, and especially by teachers in schools, will increase knowledge and promote a greater appreciation of birds and their value to the Republic. Additionally, it is expected that all appropriate branches of government will use the information in this guide to encourage, increase, and enact environmental protection in Armenia. Like elsewhere in the world, once people are introduced to the potential value of birds, this guide, along with the increased interest it generates, will stimulate additional bird study. Additional bird study will promote greater environmental awareness, encourage a more enthusiastic and meaningful approach to the protection and conservation of birds, and the valuable and often irreplaceable natural resources upon which their survival depends.
This book contains simple and practical descriptions of 349 species of birds. A special effort is made to include those features that will most effectively help a beginner identify each species. Also included are traits known to be unique or characteristic of a species in Armenia. High quality illustrations containing one or more figures of each species are on the page directly across from the respective species descriptions. Following the species descriptions and illustrations are detailed distribution maps showing where each species occurs within the borders of the Republic. Except for the proper English common names of birds, which primarily were taken from one international standard (Sable and Morn 1990, 1993), the English text throughout the guide follows the spelling convention used in the United States where the editorial work was completed.
Both the illustrations and the distribution maps are more sophisticated and advanced than what some might think appropriate for a person having only a beginning interest in birds. The rationale for high quality illustrations is to offer the most aesthetic and realistic images. Additionally, lines are drawn on the illustrations; they point to the most defining part of most figures to more effectively aid a beginner in making a species identification. The distribution maps were prepared to show where one is most likely to see a particular species of bird, to estimate the chance of seeing a bird at these locations, given our current knowledge of its abundance, and to document for the first time a representative sample of confirmed records for each species. With experience, the illustrations and distribution maps are expected to grow in value, and stimulate additional study of Armenian birds.
Species of special concern in the Republic are identified as having an Endangered, Threatened, or Undetermined status to further direct the attention of interested individuals, organizations, and government agencies to their need for protection. Learning more about these special birds should have priority for avian conservation in Armenia.
During the preparation of this book, information was gathered from published and unpublished literature, museum records, and extensive field work between 1992 and 1995