[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]
DNA and Willow Flycatcher
- To: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Subject: DNA and Willow Flycatcher
- From: Jack Peachey <email@example.com>
- Date: Sun, 08 Jul 2001 21:03:09 -0400
- Cc: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Sender: email@example.com
I appreciated your explanation of what "DNA Testing" can and can not do
with regard to determining speciation. I take it what you are saying is
that such testing can tell that two individuals can be determined closely
related but that actual determination of speciation MAY be better
determined by vocalization, habitat, habits and behavioral characteristics
that cause it to breed with individuals with the same characteristics but
not to breed with similar individuals that don't share those same
I'm wondering if such characteristics are indeed subtle, couldn't they
really be the same species. If I see a Willow/Alder type that doesn't
sing, its a "Traill's Flycatcher" to me. And who knows, perhaps that's what
it really is even if it does sing!
With regard to your comment
"Claiming that a single bird sang both Willow and Alder songs is sort of
like claiming to have seen a Shy Albatross on the back 40."
True the bird I saw was not tape recorded. However I think that your
comment is irresponsibly dismissive and doesn't apply in my case. I'll
relate the incident.
I was birding solo at Conasconk Point, Union Township, Monmouth County in
early May in the early 80's. I found an empidonax on a snag of a bush. As I
watched, it sang the "fetz-beuw, Willow song and the "fee-bee-o" Alder
song. I want to emphasize I saw it sing both songs. Head thrown back, bill
open, throat vibrate. It sang more Willow than Alder type songs, so I
counted it as a Willow.
P. William (Bill) Smith who at the time was the Regional Editor of the
Hudson/Delaware Region of American Birds also said that he had the same
bird sing both songs. What particularly bothered Bill Smith about the
seperation of Traill's Flycatcher into two species is that the separation
(he claimed) was based at least in part by a paper which appeared not in an
ornithological journal but in a philosophical journal. I believe he wrote
an S.A. on that very topic in his column.
Ray Blicharz a noted N.J. birder and who was a long time subregional
editor for the Central New Jersey area also claimed that he had the same
bird sing both the Willow and Alder songs.
The preponderance of the evidence is that Willow and Alder Flycatcher are
two separate species. And I believe it is so but what really counts is what
the AOU checklist committee believes and they have said it is so!
At any rate someone preferably Perry should do a write up, tape record the
song and even perhaps capture and measure and even take a blood sample of
the Willow at CawCaw. (if it hasn't been done already)