Aves, p�le ornithologique de Natagora

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Aves, 55/3 | 2018 | 125-133

  Current status of the Western Hazel Grouse Tetrastes bonasia rhenana in Belgium: a ghost
species or a gem still to be saved?
Jean-Yves Paquet & Philippe Ryelandt

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Article summary

The current status of the critically endangered Western hazel grouse Tetrastes bonasia rhenana in Belgium is revised, using the data in the main ornithological database in Wallonia (the only Belgian region where the species is present). Records of the species are now becoming very scarce in Belgium (only eleven records in the period 2011-2017, compared to 55 between 2001 and 2010, and 82 between 1991 and 2000). All recent data are resulting from short field observation only (eight cases) or supposed audition (three cases) by single observers. No tangible evidence (feather, dropping, photograph, sound recording) is available. The eleven most recent records are spread across several forest patches in different parts of the historical species range. We conclude that the continued presence of a breeding population of the Western hazel grouse can no longer be ascertained in Belgium. The Western hazel grouse is probably the most globally endangered taxa of the Belgian avifauna. Due to the elevated risk of, and high negative incidence, of false-positive detection, any new record should be checked and confirmed by experts rapidly.