Birder's Guide

OCT 2015

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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22 Birder's Guide to Listing & Taxonomy | October 2015 RSEC Interview if you see an Egyptian Goose in Texas, and you think it belongs to a population that meets the criteria for establishment, then you may count it on your offcial life list. The same goes for any other species cur- rently on the ABA Checklist, whether it's Muscovy Duck, Gambel's Quail, or Scaly- breasted Munia. I think both the RSEC and the CLC would love to see a list of offcially estab- lished (i.e., countable) populations for each introduced species on the Checklist, but such a list is nowhere near fruition. Until then, the RSEC prefers to leave decisions about the countability of introduced spe- cies on the Checklist to the individual bird- er. Many birders (including myself most of the time!) look to local records committees for guidance in making these decisions, but local committee decisions technically do not affect whether a birder may count something on a list submitted to the ABA. I have heard birders talk about having an introduced species "in the bank". They wait for the day when the ABA Checklist Committee adds it to the off- cial list and then get an "armchair tick". When an introduced species goes onto the ABA Checklist, does it become ret- roactively countable? This is the listing issue that the RSEC is primarily working on clarifying right now. Referring again to Rule 2.B(v), birders may count an introduced species on the ABA Checklist if the species met the criteria for establishment at the time of the encounter. There is nothing in the rules saying a species may only be counted if encountered after the species is offcially added to the Check- list. (A species clearly must be on the Check- list before it can be included in offcial list totals at the time of submission, though.) Retroactively counting introduced spe- cies is similar to retroactively counting new ABA Area records. For example, birders who were lucky enough to see the Com- mon Redstart on St. Paul Island in 2013 could not count that bird immediately; they had to wait until the CLC added the species to the Checklist in 2014. The same applies for introduced species; as long as that species met the criteria for establish- ment when it was seen prior to addition to the Checklist, it may be counted once it is added to the Checklist. Having said all that, the RSEC recog- nizes that not every established population will meet criterion #8 of the CLC's Criteria for Determining Establishment of Exotics in a relatively timely manner: "A publica- tion, ideally in a peer-reviewed journal or book, describes, how, when, and where the above seven criteria have been met." Thus, we are working on tweaking the rules in a way that will focus countability on the frst seven criteria. The date of countability for cies would be added to the ABA Checklist. Exactly which species would be added to the Checklist would be determined by the CLC. Many birders have expended a considerable amount of effort to maximize their current ABA Area list, and, to be honest, I do expect some fak from long- time listers if Hawaii is added because it moves the proverbial goalposts a bit. In Texas, where I live, there has been controversy over counting introduced species, like Egyptian Goose in San An- tonio, Scaly-breasted Munia in Houston, and Muscovy Duck in Brownsville— populations that the state records com- mittee has not accepted as established. What do ABA rules have to say on this? The specifc section of the Recording Rules that covers this is Rule 2.B(v): "an individual of an introduced species may be counted only when part of, or stray- ing from, a population that meets the ABA Checklist Committee's defnition of being established". Thus, once an exotic species is on the ABA Checklist, an indi- vidual of that species from any population that meets the criteria for establishment (http://listing.aba.org/criteria-determining- establishment-exotics/) may be counted. The individual you count does not necessarily have to be from the population originally rec- ognized as established by the CLC. Therefore,

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