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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Demoiselle Crane. India. Photo © Ramik Sreenivasan. fed by sound spectrograms of their fight calls, and contemporary resources like Xeno-canto are pushing the envelope much further. Demoiselle Crane (Anthropoides virgo) A Demoiselle Crane observed among dozens of Sandhill Cranes in San Joaquin County, California, from September 2001 through February 2002 was rejected by the CBRC on the basis of uncertain provenance (Cole and McCaskie 2004). Possibly the same individual crane was observed three months later in British Columbia and Alaska; neither of these records seems to have been reviewed. Since the CLC has never reviewed a record that was either rejected or not reviewed by a local committee, the CLC did not evaluate these particular records. However, the CBRC's decision was split, and it is fair to say that opinions were divided about the provenance of California's Demoiselle Crane. An interesting conjecture is whether this record would have been rejected, were it from 2013–2014, rather than a dozen years earlier. Is there an ongoing shift in birders' attitudes toward the provenance of vagrants? If so, is it refected in records committees' decisions? Pendulums swing back and forth, and such qualities as committee conservatism may wax and wane over the years. One thing is certain: Many of the additions in the past decade to the ABA Checklist have been of vagrants that were not on anybody's radar screen; a complete, annotated list of additions since 2004 to the ABA Checklist is provided as a WebExtra to this article . Decisions of records committees, including the ABA CLC, can be revisited. A telling case study is that of the CBRC's extremely—but not unjustifably—lengthy process of reevaluation of the status of Swallowtailed Gull in California; see Pranty et al. (2007). Depending on any precedent set by the outcome of committees' votes on the Hooded Crane records, and in light of evolving knowledge about vagrancy in cranes and other birds, it is conceivable that the ABA CLC would at some point review the records of the Demoiselle Crane. Zino's Petrel (Pterodroma madeira) As noted above, the CLC has not recently voted on a record before a state or provincial committee has done so (many years ago, this action was frequent, as many local committees had not yet been established). Also, CLC decisions very rarely contradict those of local committees. At the same time, the CLC does not simply rubber stamp state and provincial decisions. For example, Pranty et al. (2008) note their disagreement with the British Columbia Records Committee's decision to reject the record of a Xantus's Hummingbird in 1997–1998. Also, the CLC's decision not to accept a 2004 record of Ivory-billed Woodpecker was in opposition to the decision by the Bird Records Committee of the Arkansas Audubon Society (Pranty et al. 2011), and the CLC's antshrike decision, discussed above, contradicted the Texas Bird Record Committee's decision. What procedure should be in place for the ABA CLC to move to contradict a state or provincial committee's decision to reject a record, or to act on a record that was ignored by a local committee because of provenance? The ABA CLC is currently in the process of formalizing that matter. A looming decision for the ABA CLC involves a Pterodroma petrel photographed Zino's Petrel off the Madeira Archipelago. Photo © Martin Lofgren. November 2013 | Birder's Guide to Listing & Taxonomy 47

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