Date: 6/28/18 8:41 pm
From: Joel Geier <joel.geier...>
Subject: [obol] Re: [birding] USFWS issues 90-day findings for petition to list "Oregon" Vesper Sparrow as Threatened/Endangered
Hi Jim (& all),

I should clarify, "Oregon" vesper sparrow is not currently listed as
either threatened or endangered by the USFWS, though I think they're
listed as endangered in Canada (British Columbia) and, at the state
level, in Washington. The petition by American Bird Conservancy makes a
scientific argument for federal listing as endangered or at least as

Our separate comments on the Yellow-billed Cuckoo *delisting* petition
must have crossed in the wires. The role of birders as "citizen
scientists" is a thorny issue. I see this as a cautionary tale, as to
how "citizen-science" data can be misused for purposes that voluntary
contributors of data probably never intended.

I agree that documenting "absence in suitable habitat" would be useful,
but this may require a bit of a shift in birding culture. I can think of
birders who looked hard for particular species just to make a point (for
example, Alan Contreras' one-time crusade to show how many Fox Sparrows
could be found in a couple hundred yards of hedgerow). We all get a kick
out of finding birds in "atypical" habitat.

It's fun to find exceptions to the rules. But it's not always helpful
for conservation, especially in an environment when anti-conservation
groups can easily access our birding reports, and use them to argue (as
in the case of Yellow-billed Cuckoos) that designated critical habitat
isn't all that critical.

On Wed, 2018-06-27 at 19:58 -0700, <alderspring...> wrote:

> Thank you Joel, the American Bird Conservancy and the handful of other NW birders who've helped convince USFWS to review the status of the current threatened listing of Oregon Vesper Sparrow and to consider whether uplisting to endangered is warranted.
> This same Federal Register announcement also finds that multiple petitioners have convinced USFWS to consider delisting the western population of Yellow-billed Cuckoo (west of Rockies from B.C. southward).
> Documentation from birders, which might include finding--or more especially not finding--these birds in suitable habitat at the proper season, could help in future conservation of these species.
> Jim Fairchild

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