Birder's Guide

OCT 2014

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.

Issue link: http://bg.aba.org/i/392347

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Birder's Guide to Listing & Taxonomy | October 2014 6 Jeffrey A. Gordon Delaware City, Delaware jgordon@aba.org ll of these are things I hear and overhear from birders in the feld, around the bar, and online. Moreover, they are things I have been hearing for years, long before I joined the ABA staff. To me, they point to a number of issues that are pretty much forever on the minds and lips of birders. Everyone draws lines somewhere about what birds do or do not "count", even if they don't keep a formal list of any kind. Further, those of us swimming in today's advancing taxonomic currents are forever having to keep track of frequent splits and occasional lumps. This may be a bit mad- dening at times, but I guarantee it's more fun than being swept along in a tide that is receding. As much as we seek information and understanding about the birds we see, we also recognize that birding has a higher degree of self- determination and more gray areas than many recreational pursuits. It's also built on the honor system, so there is a lot of truth to the sentiment that any birder can count whatever they choose to. Yet even in a community as determinedly individualistic as ours, there is a need for helpful authority, someone to help set and explain the rules, and to occasionally modify them when warranted. Birder's Guide to Listing & Taxonomy is designed to be a one-stop annual update on the state of the game. It's also meant to let you really know "what the ABA has said". Finally, it's a place where you can fnd out how to join in and infuence ongoing conversations about many of these issues. We hope to hear from you. Good birding, Jeffrey A. Gordon President, American Birding Association t may not be clear at frst glance what listing and taxonomy have to do with one another. But dive a bit deeper, and it soon becomes apparent how the two are not only related but even dependent on one another. Of course, listers depend on the American Ornithologists' Union to maintain its checklist, and they use that as the scorecard for their listing endeavors. Morgan Churchill's article in this issue provides you with some background on the theories that guide these ornithologists when deciding what is a species (and what isn't). The annual "Check-list Redux" explains in simple terms all that's changed on the AOU Check-list this year. Armchair tickers, rejoice! Listing articles in this issue include reports on big years in Guatemala and San Diego County, California, and an introduction to photo big days. Birders engaged in big years—especially in relatively little-known areas such as Guatemala—help with our knowledge of status and distribution. Photo big days document for posterity what bird was where and when. Both can help scientists when they're trying to decide which species is which, where it occurs, and, sometimes, if it "counts". Finally in this issue, we have news on Aplomado Falcons: both regarding how the repatriation efforts are going and—this is the listing issue after all—on whether you can "count" them on your ABA Area lists. Whether your passion is leading bird walks at your local park, competing in big days, or studying the minutiae of Phylloscopus warbler identifcation, I hope you will fnd something of interest—indeed, of use—in this issue. Please take a moment to let us know what you did and didn't like, and what was missing. Even better, write something for us! Be sure to check in at , where you will fnd a much-expanded e-version of this issue and links to discussions of the topics you read about here. We look forward to hearing from you! Good birding, Michael L. P. Retter Editor, Birder's Guide From the President From the Editor I Michael L. P. Retter Fort Worth, Texas mretter@aba.org A "You can't count that." "Those just got split." "Hey, it's your list." "Well, the ABA says…"

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