Date: 6/22/18 9:22 pm
From: Ann Pettigrew <rook185...>
Subject: Re: News from the Pennsylvania Ornithological Records Committee
Great news! Thanks for the update.

Ann C. Pettigrew, V.M.D.
York, PA

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

"In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks." - John Muir.

> On Jun 22, 2018, at 8:16 AM, Pennsylvania Ornithologicial Records Committee <porcbirds...> wrote:
> The Pennsylvania Ornithological Records Committee (PORC) would like to
> announce that the record of the Berks County, PA Black-backed Oriole has
> passed acceptance as a Class I record, after two rounds of voting, and a
> final vote of: 6/1.
> While it's not typical for us to make such an announcement on a vote we
> have completed, we have heard from many people in Pennsylvania, and beyond,
> who have been hoping to learn of our decision on this particular record.
> Therefore, we have made an exception for this case.
> To briefly sum up our decision: after careful evaluation, and extensive
> discussions, the PORC felt that there was far more evidence to support this
> being a wild bird of natural origins, versus an escaped captive bird.
> Thorough research was done by PORC members on this species, and, especially
> on the illegal bird trade in the United States. This included (but not
> limited to) obtaining a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) document that
> listed all avian species detained and seized at the border of the US in the
> last 10 years. In addition to no Black-backed Orioles on this list, there
> were no orioles at all.
> Additionally, PORC considered comments provided to us on this individual's
> occurrence in PA, written for us by noted oriole and icterid experts
> (Omland, Jaramillo), each of whom favored this individual as a wild bird.
> Dr. Kevin Omland of UMBC, who has been studying new world orioles for the
> past few decades, notes that the Baltimore Oriole is the closest DNA
> relative to the Black-backed Oriole, and said: "Orioles get around. Over
> hundreds of thousands of years non-migratory lineages have made it out to
> nearly every island in the Caribbean and furthermore that lineage colonized
> South America from the Caribbean. Of course Baltimore orioles show up in
> Europe not very infrequently. "
> Dr. Omland also mentioned that because the Black-backed Oriole "barely
> sings", it would make them less desirable for a caged bird.
> Alvaro Jaramillo provided the following for our committee (posted with
> permission):
> "Like most birds the complete molt is after the breeding season (so late
> summer/fall). My guess is that a cage bird that is released or gets away
> has essentially no life skills, and mortality is extremely high when this
> happens. While commerce in wild birds may be common in Mexico, and right to
> the US border, my guess is that transport of these birds to the north is
> actually pretty darn rare. It is different in communities of Cuban
> Americans in Florida who go out of their way to obtain Cuban Bullfinch for
> example.
> The argument over adult male vs young male can be looked at in a
> different manner. Of course young males are much more likely to range far
> from home or have the incorrect “wiring” in their brains to perform their
> normal migrations. However, if this bird wound up as a first fall male in
> essentially any spot in Eastern North America, would anyone realize it is a
> Black-backed Oriole? My guess is no, because the identification is pretty
> tricky at that stage and people are not looking for the unexpected. The
> only time anyone is going to notice this sucker is if it shows up as an
> adult male. For all we know, 30 non adult males have shown up in the last
> decade and no one noticed!!
> Regarding patterns of occurrence, many Mexican species for some unknown
> reason show up well out of range to the north and it may be that this is
> increasing in frequency. Some more spectacularly lost than others,
> Amethyst-throated Hummingbird, Mexican Violetear, Golden-crowned Warbler,
> Orange-billed Nightingale-Thrush, Red Warbler etc. I think that these and
> various other records make the PA Black-backed Oriole maybe not that odd. I
> would have no problems accepting the bird as wild, this has fewer steps and
> is perhaps even the conservative option if you ask me. "
> *Other points made by PORC Members included:*
> * While not known to be a long-distance migrant, this individual appeared
> in Massachusetts (careful feather-by-feather analysis was done by Peter
> Pyle to prove this was the same bird, and provided to our committee prior
> to both rounds), which in itself shows a capability to fly a distance.
> * The many photos, especially those in-flight, provide no physical evidence
> of feather-wear associated with a caged bird.
> * Black-backed Orioles in non-adult male plumage can make for a complicated
> identification, therefore, it's entirely plausible that others of this
> species may have occurred here in the US, but have been misidentified by
> birders as another oriole species (particularly Bullock's), therefore,
> allowing a potential gap in the understanding of any patterns of vagrancy
> by this species.
> The PORC would like to thank the many birders who contributed information
> on this oriole to this committee, and particularly the neighborhood in
> Sinking Springs, who graciously hosted the many birders that visited, along
> with the oriole itself.
> Respectfully,
> The Pennsylvania Ornithological Records Committee (PORC)
> --
> The Pennsylvania Ornithological Records Committee
> State Review List:
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