Date: 12/18/17 10:20 am
From: 'Bailey, Steven D' <sdbailey...> [ILbirds] <ILbirds-noreply...>
Subject: Re: IBET (No Sightings) Provenance of McLean Co Barnacle Goose
I encourage all Illinois birders (including all members of the IORC) to read an article published in the May/June 2008 issue of Birding magazine (the American Birding Associations journal) entitled "Greenland Geese in North America", which can be found on-line at ( ). This deals directly with the countability of Barnacle Geese on your Illinois Life List. I guess I am going to be on the fence with the question of whether or not the McLean County bird should be considered a wild bird or not (especially since I haven't seen it...yet). Personally though, I think that very strong fliers including geese could likely turn up just about anywhere, far from their normal range, especially when affected by a strong weather event. I was a member of the IORC (Illinois Ornithological Records Committee) for ten years, back in the '90s, so would find it interesting to hear thoughts from both past and current members of that committee. Inevitably it will come down to the IORCs vote on this bird as to whether folks can count the McLean County Barnacle Goose on the lists that they turn into the IOS Lister's Corner. The above article seems to push for the thought (including use of some statistical "proof") that increasing numbers of Barnacle Goose records are of truly wild birds... however, it seems that the author is mainly talking about East Coast records of the bird where most records occur from.
One thing that needs to be kept in mind though is not to try and associate the increasing numbers of Barnacle Goose records (coming from their Greenland breeding grounds) too much with the truly massive and astounding increases in the other Arctic breeding geese such as the various forms and races of Snow & White-fronted Geese, as well as increasing numbers of Ross's and possibly even Cackling Geese that now migrate through and winter in Illinois. Barnacle Geese only breed on the northeast coast of Greenland, much farther away from populations of some of the other Arctic-nesting geese that winter in Illinois abundantly now (at least part of the reason why Barnacle Geese winter in their much closer & COASTAL, Old World wintering grounds).
The article does mention Midwest records (but not in the detail I would have liked), and acknowledges input from both Doug Stotz and Dan Williams with Illinois records utilized in the article. However the article only includes records up through 2004, so it is somewhat dated. One IBET post on this matter mentions the "disproportionate number of recent Midwest Barnacle Goose records" that were noted in eBird records. However, the problem with using eBird records with this sort of thing is that all of those records, could simply be of one or two birds, depending on the date they were seen... and other pertinent info, that is probably NOT mentioned in any eBird record. My point is that, on a similar note, a Snowy Owl seen in Kankakee County may be the same bird that is seen in Iroquois County 3 or 4 days later, or a one-day occurrence of a Snowy Owl seen in Lake County, could be the same Snowy Owl seen in Cook County a day or two later, especially on the Lake Michigan shoreline. Big and highly visible birds like waterfowl (& large owls) are often seen by numerous birders these days, so practically wherever they move around to, they will be seen by SOME birder. Birds with such high mobility (& detectability) can be 50-100 miles from their last sighting as few as several days later.
One other thing to remember is that in the past, when some waterfowl aviculturalists have been contacted about waterfowl in their collection, they have gone on to say that they don't band their birds, so even that is not a full-proof excuse to call something a wild bird. Good holiday birding!

Steve Bailey
Lake County

Then my heart turns to Alaska and freedom on the run, I can hear her spirit calling
me to the mountains, I can rest there. To the rivers, I will be strong.
To the forests, I'll find peace there. To the wild country, where I belong.
- John Denver

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