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 by Brian Patteson off North Carolina in September 1995. The bird was not identifed as a Zino's Petrel until the photograph was published 17 years later by Steve Howell (2012); the record, although not submitted to the North Carolina Bird Records Committee, nevertheless was rejected by the committee the following year (Tove et al. 2013). Subsequently, Flood and Fisher (2013) also accepted this photograph as a Zino's Petrel, a decision that may prompt the ABA CLC to vote on it. This petrel may yet represent the frst time that the CLC has ever voted on a record that was rejected by a local committee. Perhaps more than any other taxon, the "tubenoses" in the order Procellariiformes have in recent years attracted the attention of the CLC. Emerging technologies are at play here (see our discussion, above, of the Fea's and Galápagos petrels), but so too is a recent avalanche of new information about the basic biology of these birds. A quarter century ago, most birders hadn't even heard of Fea's Petrel—let alone its littleknown congener, Zino's Petrel. Thick-billed Parrot (Rhynchopsitta pachyrhyncha) The central function of the ABA CLC is to add species to (and less frequently to delete species from) the ABA Checklist. But that is not the committee's only function. Since 1991, the CLC has associated with each Checklist entry a "birding code" that provides a very coarse sketch of the species' status in the ABA Area. These codes are explained in detail in Pranty et al. (2008). There are six codes, and one of them has potential consequences for the countability of species on birders' lists: Code 6 is defned as, "Cannot be found—The species is probably or actually extinct or extirpated from the ABA Checklist Area, or all survi- vors are held in captivity, or releases are not yet naturally re-established." Thus, recent sightings of the Code 6 California Condor and Ivory-billed Woodpecker should not be counted on an ABA-compliant list. (We hasten to point out that the ABA has authority over birders' lists only when the lists are submitted to the ABA for publication.) An interesting challenge for the CLC arose a decade ago, when a Thick-billed Parrot was photographed in New Mexico in 2003. The bird's identity was not in question, but its provenance was; there was no previous record of the species from New Mexico. At the time of the bird's occurrence, Thick-billed Parrot was listed on the ABA Checklist as a Code 6 species. Casual in the ABA Area (where limited to southeastern Arizona) through the early 20th century, the species had not been documented in the ABA Area for nearly 70 years (excepting a failed reintroduction attempt during Thick-billed Parrots near Madera, Chihuahua, Mexico. Photo © Steven Whitebread. 48 Birder's Guide to Listing & Taxonomy | November 2013

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