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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The ABA Checklist Committee in the 21st Century The four Òcompletely newÓ species added by the ABA Checklist Committee to the ABA Checklist in 2013 are: • • • • Purple Swamphen Common Moorhen Common Chiffchaff Nutmeg Mannikin Hawaiian/Gal‡pagos Petrel was ÒupgradedÓ to Hawaiian Petrel. Through June 2013, 22 photographic records of "Dark-rumped Petrel" off California have been accepted by the California Bird Records Committee as representing Hawaiian Petrels. Also, there is one record of Hawaiian Petrel for Washington (M. Bartels, pers. comm.). Currently, there are no accepted Oregon records of Hawaiian Petrel, but at least two reported in 2013 will make their way through the state records committee. And there are several "Hawaiian/Galápagos Petrel" records. It is anticipated that this species-pair will be Hawaiian Petrel. Monterey Bay, California. Photo © David Pavlik. 38 replaced with Hawaiian Petrel on the Oregon checklist (D. Irons, pers. comm.). Hawaiian Petrel has also been reported off British Columbia (e.g., Davis 2013). And as we were going to press, we learned of a remarkable record of a salvaged specimen from Yuma, Arizona . Of particular interest to us is a report by Adams and Flora (2010) of a Hawaiian Petrel ftted with a satellite transmitter on Maui, Hawaii; the bird traveled clockwise in a large loop that placed it within 215 nautical miles (400 kilometers) of the Pacifc Coast of North America from Alaska to California—just outside the ABA Area. The bird was not, to our knowledge, seen, let alone photographed, while at sea; its occurrence was documented by a technology that simply did not exist until relatively recently. Comments The splitting of one species into two or more species has been a staple of ornithology for three centuries. In the 18th and 19th centuries, differences in plumage and measurements were the primary factors driving taxonomy. During the 20th century, technological advances allowed the development or improvement of other tools, such as those used to measure differences in vocalizations and genetics. Today, miniaturization in electronics for radio and satellite telemetry units, global positioning systems (GPS), and geolocation units has revolutionized the ability of ornithologists to remotely track birds for long periods and over great distances. Using "biotelemetry" (remotely recorded biological activity), researchers can even determine the behavior of seabirds by measuring the timing and frequency of saltwater immersion and even the depth of their dives! Seabirds detected by "remote sensing" present interesting challenges and opportunities for today's records committees. For example, a radio-tagged Short-tailed Albatross visited Washington's offshore waters 25–29 September 2009; this remotely sensed bird was not observed by any per- Birder's Guide to Listing & Taxonomy | November 2013 son, but it was accepted by the Washington Bird Records Committee (M. Bartels, pers. comm.). Similarly, a Fea's Petrel tagged at its nesting burrow on Bugio Island (in the Desertas chain off Madeira) and recently geolocated as a winter resident off Florida's Atlantic Coast (Ramirez et al. 2013) was recently accepted by the Florida Ornithological Society Records Committee as the frst record for the state (J. S. Greenlaw, pers. comm.). In another application of biotelemetry, researchers are recording metabolic data on Swainson's Thrushes as they migrate by night (Bowlin et al. 2005). So far, these studies have focused on thrushes migrating within their typical ranges. But it is easy to imagine that a wayward Swainson's Thrush—the species is prone to vagrancy—could be detected in the course of a biotelemetry study. Perhaps Great Britain will get its next Swainson's Thrush in the form of a blip on a radar screen, or by ARU (automated recording unit) monitoring; the species' fight call is diagnostic and should be detectable by ARU technology. Remote sensing—including "old-fashioned" radio telemetry, as well as more recent technologies involving biotelemetry and ARUs—seems likely to play an increasingly prominent role in the documentation of rare birds. Other technological advances, ones we cannot even imagine at the present time, may well come to aid the ornithologists and birders of the future. Time will tell. Purple Swamphen (Porphyrio porphyrio) –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– Background This species has been added to the ABA Checklist on the basis of an exotic population established in southern Florida. Florida's Purple Swamphens were discovered around December 1996, and the population had increased to at least 135 individuals by February 1999. By 2012, swamphens had been reported from nearly 30 sites in Florida, with several of these more than

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