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 only three years because neither the California nor Florida records committee had ratifed its establishment prior to the CLC vote. (Although not a codifed rule, the CLC prefers to wait until an exotic has been ratifed by a local committee before voting to add it to the ABA Checklist; in the case of the parakeet, this preference was not followed initially.) Of the nine exotics added to the Checklist since 1988 that remain on the list, fve are from Florida (Purple Swamphen in 2013, Eurasian Collared-Dove and Monk Parakeet in 1992, Nanday Parakeet in 2012, and Common Myna in 2008), Nutmeg Mannikin (in 2013) is from California, Rosy-faced Lovebird (in 2012) is from Arizona, Himalayan Snowcock (in 1994) is from Nevada, and Green Parakeet (in 1999) is from Texas. By waiting until a local records committee has ratifed the establishment of an exotic species before it can vote, the CLC can hamper its own efforts to use strictly biological criteria (rather than emotions or "politics") in its decision-making. However, it is important that the CLC maintain good relations with members of local committees—some of whom may eventually serve on the CLC—even at the expense of waiting years (or even decades!) to add a qualifed exotic species to the ABA Checklist. The issue is particularly relevant Yellow-chevroned Parakeet was added to the ABA Checklist, only to be removed three years later, because the California and Florida committees had not also acted to add the species to their checklists. This parakeet was in Los Angeles County, California. Photo © Lou Orr. to California, where several other exotics may also be eventual candidates for CLC consideration and where, at least until recently, the birding culture has had a generally negative view of exotics. For example, in 2002, the AOU added Mitred Parakeet to its Check-list of North American Birds after ratifying it as an established exotic in southern California, despite no previous—or subsequent—action by the California Bird Records Committee (CBRC) (Banks et al. 2002). Also, Rose-ringed Parakeet has long been established in and around Bakersfeld, California, and its substantial popula- Despite the species' presence in southeastern Florida from 1960–1978 and in 1988, no Bluegray Tanager was ever known to be photographed in the state; the sole record is of a specimen collected in 1964. It is of the "white-winged" Amazonian population, represented here by an individual in eastern Ecuador. Photo © Nick Athanas. 40 Birder's Guide to Listing & Taxonomy | November 2013 tion there is at least stable and likely is increasing and expanding (Sheehey 2012). Common Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus) –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– Background In 2011, the AOU split Common Moorhen (G. chloropus, sensu lato) into the Common Gallinule (G. galeata) of the New World and the extralimital Common Moorhen (G. chloropus, sensu stricto) of the Old World, based on differences in bill and shield morphology, vocalizations, and mitochondrial DNA (Chesser et al. 2011). A juvenile male Gallinula collected at Shemya Island in Alaska's Aleutian Islands in October 2010 (Withrow and Schwitters 2012) could have represented either species, although geographic probability strongly favored Common Moorhen. Because measurement data between the two species overlap, and because the Shemya Gallinula was a juvenile that had not yet fully developed its bill and frontal shield, identifcation required genetic testing. A parsimony analysis of 416 base pairs of mitochondrial DNA revealed that the Shemya bird clustered with the DNA of known Common Moorhens rather than with DNA of known Common Gallinules (Withrow and Schwitters 2012).

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