Birder's Guide

NOV 2013

Birder's Guide is the American Birding Association's newest publication. Each issue focuses on a key subject, providing tips from experienced birders on a wide variety of topics like Travel, Listing & Taxonomy, Gear, and Conservation & Community.

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Page 38 of 67

December 2013 Birding. How are species added to an "official" list? Before there was an ABA Checklist, the sole authority within North America was the American Ornithologists' Union (AOU) Check-list. In the past, most first records added to the various AOU Checklists (the first was published in 1886) were based on collected specimens. Today, the AOU and ABA committees maintain and update separate lists; the two committees work independently and publish checklists for different geographic areas. Given vast improvements in photography, coupled with a great decline in the frequency of collecting, most species added to the various ABA checklists have been based on birds photographed. Today, few first records within the ABA Area are the result of birds collected (and of these, almost all are from Alaska). Technology is playing a much larger role in field ornithology, including the work of checklist committees, with many tools other than shotguns and film being used. Also, we are seeing the emergence of new knowledge of and attitudes toward vagrancy and exotics. In this article, we explore ways in which technology is affecting the CLC. We focus on seven main case studies: five species accepted by the committee during 2013 (Hawaiian Petrel, Purple Swamphen, Common Moorhen, Common Chiffchaff, and Nutmeg Mannikin) and two others expected to be addressed within the next year or so (Rufous-necked Wood-Rail and Hooded Crane). We also discuss in less detail four other species that have presented recent challenges or that are expected to challenge the committee in the near future (Barred Antshrike, Demoiselle Crane, Zino's Petrel, and Thick-billed Parrot). Space limitations prevent us from discussing the species recently split by the AOU. Such changes (for example, the AOU's 2013 split of Sage Sparrow into Sagebrush and Bell's sparrows) are automatically accepted by the CLC. See Michael Retter's "AOU Check-list Redux" on p. 50 for details. Ted Floyd Bayonet Point, Florida Bill Pranty Lafayette, Colorado in the 21st Century Hawaiian Petrel (Pterodroma sandwichensis) –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– Background In 2002, the AOU split Dark-rumped Petrel (P. phaeopygia, sensu lato) into Galápagos Petrel (P. phaeopygia, sensu stricto) and Hawaiian Petrel based on morphological and vocal differences between the two taxa. At the time, however, there were no specimens from the ABA Area, field-identification criteria were not established, and it was not known which species visited the ABA Area. In the ensuing years, Force et al. (2007) and Pyle et al. (2011) developed identification criteria based on high-quality digital photographs. As a result, Hawaiian Petrel has been shown to be regular off the west coast of North America, but there is no firm evidence to date that Galápagos Petrels visit waters within the ABA Area. Hawaiian Petrel. Monterey Bay, California. Photo © David Pavlik. November 2013 | Birder's Guide to Listing & Taxonomy 37

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