[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Regarding Fea's and Zino's Petrels

    As the Chairman of the NC Bird Records Committee when the Am.
Birding Association was deliberating over accepting Fea's Petrel to the
Official ABA list, I seem to recall word that one reason for failure to
accept Fea's unilaterally was the size issue. How can you prove overall
size and size of the bill when birds are photographed singly? You might
need to have a Fea's sitting with a group of Black-capped Petrels to see
that the size and bill size are about that of Black-capped. Also, how do
you prove a bird is a Zino's if you photograph a single bird flying
around a breeding island, when both species nest within the same
grouping of islands, or within close enough range that one could forage
close to the other islands? (Fea's has a relatively large bill and
Zino's has a small bill, and Zino's averages a few inches smaller than
Fea's). Zino's does seem to have a much shorter wing, which is more
rounded, as opposed to Fea's, which definitely has a very long and
pointed wing like Black-capped. (There are good photos of these apparent
or presumed Zino's in Mike Tove's Birding article a few years ago, and
in Enticott and Tipling's recent Seabirds book.)

Mike Tove asked me to join him on his trip to the Madeiras. I declined,
not only for expense and work reasons, but in part because I think no
matter the amount of photography of free-flying birds, it won't be
satisfactory to change the mind of the ABA Committee (and I haven't
heard about an AOU Committee ruling, but they are even more strict than
ABA). What Mike may need is to get onto the breeding grounds, capture an
adult, and photograph it in hand with wings full spread, etc. He can
photograph birds flying around that have short, rounded wings and small
bills. They would almost certainly be Zino's, but I think the ABA
Committee already knows this.

Some of you may wonder why all the bother. You can count Fea's/Zino's on
your ABA list. But, according to ABA, Fea's has not been accepted to the
Official ABA list -- Fea's/Zino's has. Those of us who have seen the
birds off NC know what we are seeing, and Fea's has been documented, in
my opinion and in the opinion of many, beyond a shadow of a doubt to
occur in the Gulf Stream off NC. Perhaps nothing short of a specimen at
this point will sway ABA (and probably AOU) to finally admit Fea's
Petrel to the Official list of North American birds. I certainly hope a
specimen is not necessary. After all, ABA recently accepted Bermuda
Petrel to the ABA Official List, based on photographs. The catch is that
there is not an extremely close relative that might cause ID problems,
unlike Fea's/Zino's.

I wish Mike well. I doubt his documentation will help, but maybe it
will. I already did my best -- I sent in a letter to ABA that was
printed in a recent issue, explaining my concern and shock at the ABA
decision. (The NC Bird Records Committee accepted Fea's Petrel to the
Official state list years ago.)

Good pelagic birding, and hope you see some good Pterodromas. Make sure
you check all of them well. Maybe a real Zino's is in the Gulf Stream
somewhere, and not all the dark ones have to be Heralds. There is still
a lot to be learned about pelagic birds, with the recent splits of
several Peterodromas, the seeming increase in number of Bermuda Petrel
records in NC, and the recent finding of a Swinhoe's Storm-Petrel and
Bulwer's Petrel, on the same day, off NC in 1998. You might want to
re-read Ned Brinkley's recent article in Birding about the next
potential new birds to the ABA list -- the Atlantic pelagic ones. Will
you know, or be first on a boat to call out, Madeiran Shearwater when
you see one?

Harry LeGrand
NC Natural Heritage Program
1615 MSC
Raleigh, NC 27699-1615
(919) 715-8687 (work)
FAX: 919-715-3085
e-mail: harry.legrand@ncmail.net