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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Page 24 of 35

23 October 2015 | Birder's Guide to Listing & Taxonomy an introduced species likely will be based on when the species met criterion #6 of the CLC's Criteria for Determining Establish- ment of Exotics: "The population has been present for at least 15 years." We are de- veloping a list of the years each introduced species recently added to the Checklist passed the 15-year threshold. If a species is encountered during that calendar year or later, it should be unequivocally count- able. However, the exact wording of this rule change has not been decided upon, so folks should not adjust any lists quite yet. If someone reports a rarity to the local records committee and it is rejected, can that person still put it on his or her ABA list? Unambiguously, yes, as long as that rar- ity is on the ABA Checklist. As I mentioned above, many (most?) birders look to re- cords committees for guidance in what they decide to count on a life list, but they technically don't have to do so when reporting totals to the ABA. As long as a birder encounters a species in a way that adheres to the ABA's Recording Rules, the birder may choose to count the species. California Condor is currently listed as "Code 6" on the ABA Checklist. Code 6 means "cannot be found", but the RSEC made the species countable last year, didn't it? Is a Code 6 bird countable? This is a question that has been coming up often since condors became countable again. To be clear, the number code for a species on the ABA Checklist is not con- nected to whether the species is count- able. In other words, Code 6 does not mean uncountable. Condors were not countable before the recent rule change because they did not meet the ABA Checklist Commit- tee's criteria for established species—not because condor was (and still is) a Code 6 species. If a Code 6 species (California Condor, Thick-billed Parrot, Bachman's Warbler, etc.) is encountered by a birder in a way that adheres to the Recording Rules, the birder may count the species. Thanks, Nick, for clarifying some count- ability rules. But what about birding eth- ics? Do you see any ethical issues com- ing before the RSEC in the future? After spending most of last year focusing on a revision of the Recording Rules and Interpretations, I think the committee soon will be revisiting the Code of Birding Ethics to look for possible revisions. Personally, I think the Code is an extremely durable, well-written document, and I do not an- ticipate any major changes. The issue that seems to come up the most in members' questions/comments (and thus may require Introduced populations of species not recognized as established by local committees are countable on lists reported to the ABA if you think they're part of established populations. From left to right: Within Texas, there are substantial introduced populations of Scaly-breasted Munia (© Erin Ryza) in Houston, Muscovy Duck (© Ken Slade) in Brownsville, and Egyptian Goose (© Mike Charest) in San Antonio. some clarifcation from the RSEC) is play- back. I think the current Code's wording about the subject is still very good: "Limit the use of recordings and other methods of attracting birds, and never use such meth- ods in heavily-birded areas or for attract- ing any species that is Threatened, Endan- gered, of Special Concern, or is rare in your local area." I do not know that the RSEC would alter this segment, but I think we may issue some interpretations of it, similar to how the Recording Rules have their own set of accompanying interpretations. Another issue concerns the feeding of owls, particularly wintering Snowy and Great Gray owls. As you may know, the debate over this practice is a giant can of worms, but it may be one that the RSEC needs to open. We shall see. I think this would be the appropriate place to mention that the RSEC is always open to hearing from birders about is- sues they would like us to address. Many of our recent revisions to the Recording Rules were infuenced by questions/com- ments from ABA members, and we love hearing from you! If folks have questions about a recording rule, want to voice con- cerns about an ethical issue, or are seeking clarifcation about how to apply the rules and/or ethics to a particular scenario, they should not hesitate to email us at rsec@ We look forward to hearing from more members!

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