Date: 9/27/19 8:00 pm
From: Wayne Weber <contopus...>
Subject: [obol] Re: Those fall kingbirds

You are probably correct that non-vocalizing Tropical and Couch’s Kingbirds cannot usually be distinguished from each other under field conditions. However, geographic distribution is a major factor that should be considered in making bird identifications. Tropical Kingbird is a species which has a well-documented pattern of fall occurrence along the West Coast. There are records north to Alaska, and there are scores of sightings every fall in coastal BC, Washington, Oregon, and California. On the other hand, there is only one confirmed record of Couch’s Kingbird on the west coast (in 1998 in Orange County, California). Given these facts, it is a certainty that fewer than 1%, if any, of the Tropical/Couch’s type Kingbirds seen in Oregon are actually Couch’s. Observers should feel safe in reporting such birds as Tropical Kingbirds, with very little likelihood of error.

Your statement that non-vocalizing birds MUST be recorded as Tropical/Couch’s is ludicrous. Using your standards, we would have to report all non-vocalizing meadowlarks seen in Oregon as Eastern/Western, because these two are very difficult to separate.

Please do not bother to send any more of your dogmatic and bluntly-worded messages about bird identification to OBOL. Many of us have been birding much longer than you, are well aware of the various pitfalls in bird identification, and do not need to be lectured by you on how to report things in eBird. Thank you.

Wayne C. Weber

Delta, BC, Canada


From: <obol-bounce...> [mailto:<obol-bounce...>] On Behalf Of Alex Lamoreaux
Sent: Friday, September 27, 2019 4:38 PM
To: Oregon Birders OnLine
Subject: [obol] Re: Those fall kingbirds

Similar to my rant on crossbills yesterday, without vocalizations Tropical and Couch’s Kingbirds are not identifiable under field conditions. Some variation in shape of the P4 on adult males, and other subtle in-hand features can separate them but otherwise they must be recorded as Tropical/Couch’s until vocals can confirm species. Current eBird records of this Newport bird make no mention of calls and the records should be changed to the dreaded ‘slash’.

Tropical has shown a solid pattern of northward movement up the west coast in fall in recent years (and up the east coast to a lesser extent, with overwintering in Florida etc) but Couch’s Kingbird has also greatly increased its US population in the last 10 years and should be expected as a fall vagrant throughout the country. 4+ have been confirmed by vocals in the west, and many more in the northeast and Great Lakes.


Alex Lamoreaux


Naturalist and Senior Leader/North America Specialist for Wildside Nature Tours

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