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Mississippi Kite retraction

After much hand-ringing and even more thought, we have decided not to count 
the Mississippi Kite (MIKI) that I reported 3 weeks ago for the Durham NC 
Christmas Bird Count (CBC).  Here's the story.

When I sent in the information about the MIKI to the count compiler, Mike 
Schultz, he immediately noted that this species was not listed on the 
master CBC checklist that goes out to compilers all across North 
America.  In other words, this would have been a first record for a CBC 
anywhere in North America.  Upon reflection, we felt that a 5-10 second 
look at bird flying away from us, even though in good light and from a 
reasonable distance, was simply not good enough to be acceptable for such a 
noteworthy first record.

I asked folks on this list for comments and got a few.  Those comments were 
food for thought, but didn't really change my mind about my particular 
identification of this particular bird.  That is, I had already ruled out 
the species those people suggested.  But I thank them for their suggestions.

Two other people have been back to the same site and have not refound the bird.

So was it a MIKI?  Might have been.  I've seen 1000s of them in my 
life.  (Literally 1000s, in April, in migration, in south Texas.  That was 
a sight!)  But I felt I just didn't really have enough unequivocal evidence 
on this occasion.  So the conservative explanation seems to be that what we 
saw was likely something else, though we will never know what that might 
have been.  Can I live with that uncertainty?  Sheesh, I sure hope so.

Do I regret my initial posting reporting the bird?  Absolutely not.  Better 
to report it and get other people to go take a look.  Maybe they could find 
the bird again.  And I've eaten crow before (in a manner of speaking) and 
probably will again.  (Hmm, was that just American Crow, or was it 
Tamaulipas Crow?  My memory is that every time I eat crow, it's pretty spicy!)


Norman Budnitz 	919-684-3592 (day)
nbudnitz@duke.edu 	919-383-0553 (eve)
			919-684-6168 (fax)

(work)	Department of Zoology, Duke University
	Box 90325, Durham NC 27708-0325
(home)	4115 Garrett Drive, Durham NC 27705-8005

PROGRESS: the victory of laughter over dogma.
(Tom Robbins, Half Asleep in Frog Pajamas)