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Aren't AOU splits fun?!
- To: "firstname.lastname@example.org" <email@example.com>
- Subject: Aren't AOU splits fun?!
- From: Harry LeGrand <Harry.LeGrand@ncmail.net>
- Date: Thu, 27 Jan 2000 14:04:51 -0500
- Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org
I guess you know that I am now sick of the Pacific-Slope Flycatcher
mess. Several of you have brought up some valid points today:
1. capturing and measuring the bird at Jordan Lake
2. counting Pacific-slope on your life list without hearing the bird
If scientists are so picky as to say that you would need to hear songs
of the flycatchers, and maybe have a specimen, then capturing and
measuring the bird, WITHOUT photographs of the body parts laid out along
a ruler for all to see, will not suffice, no matter how different
measurements might be between P-s and Cordilleran. I say this because
the measurer could easily misread the data, not have the wing fully
spread, etc. Plus, we would have to rely on his or her own measurements,
i.e., a sight record, as you will. If a Ruby-throated Hummingbird bill
length is, say 22-26 mm, and a bird I measured is 27 mm, falling within
the range of Black-chinned (say 24-30 mm), I would call it a
Black-chinned. But, if I didn't photo the bill against the ruler, you
should have concerns that I measured the bill correctly. Also there
would be the concern that the measurement is so close to the upper limit
of RTH that it could actually be a RTH.
Thus, capturing and measuring an Empidonax would have some problems.
You might as well collect the bird.
Kent brings up an interesting point. For your NC state list, it really
isn't a problem. You can put down Western or whatever, as "Western" has
not previously been seen/heard in the state. (If you don't feel
comfortable separating the bird from Yellow-bellied, then you shouldn't
count it on your NC list.) For a life list, then concerns pop up. If you
have been to Colorado, where only Cordilleran breeds, then you would
have it on your list and not P-s. If you haven't been to the West Coast
where P-s breeds, should you count the NC bird on your life list if you
didn't hear it call? What about if you did hear the bird call?
I think Kent has the right attitude, that most aspects of birding
are meant to be fun, and are meant to be at the individual's
discretion. Right now, I'm wavering on whether to count a female
hummingbird that I believe was a Black-chinned on my NC bird list. Ditto
for an adult Yellow-legged Gull. Ditto for a Bicknell's Thrush.
Certainly, none were identified beyond a shadow of a doubt to the
species mentioned. But, to the best of what I know and believe, I did
see these three species in NC.
The AOU has already made a mess of the listing game, plus created field
identification nightmares, by splitting out:
Pacific-slope and Cordilleran Flycatchers
Bicknell's and Gray-cheeked thrushes
Salt-marsh Sharp-tailed and Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrows
Fea's and Zino's Petrels
perhaps a few other recent splits
A few splits needed of similar-plumaged taxa needed to have been done,
such as Couch's and Tropical Kingbird, Great-tailed and Boat-tailed
Grackle, Willow and Alder Flycatcher, etc. These groups really are
different; different songs, calls, etc.
If we see Cave Swallows split, Red Crossbills split, etc., we will have
an even bigger nightmare than what we already have. I, for one, hope
that never happens.
It's been close to two weeks since we had a new bird in the Carolinas.
Can't someone find a new one that isn't controversial? Lewis'
Woodpecker? Bohemian Waxwing? An adult male Magnificent Hummingbird?
Harry E. LeGrand, Jr.
N.C. Natural Heritage Program
Division of Parks and Recreation
Raleigh, NC 27699-1615
Office: (919) 715-8687
Home: (919) 832-3202
FAX: (919) 715-3085