Date: 9/27/19 8:23 pm
From: Alan Contreras <acontrer56...>
Subject: [obol] Those fall kingbirds
Our traditional month for snarking at each other is February, so let’s focus on the field in our best birding season, which is now.

One of the underlying issues with a bird like Tropical Kingbird is that because it isn’t really a rarity in the usual sense, with half a dozen or more records each fall in Oregon for decades (I saw three last fall), observers note it but the OBRC never sees it. Therefore record-keeping and note-taking tends to be more casual than for, say, a fall Bay-breasted Warbler.

Another, more important issue is that some people consider eBird to be a sole source for status and facts about distribution issues or particular records. It isn’t. This habit of overreliance on eBird is getting to be a problem in discussing the actual status of birds in a region.

Some information gets into eBird, some never escapes OBOL, some is published later in Oregon Birds, North American Birds and in some cases in venues such as Western Birds. Some gets into regional field notes and nowhere else. Some disappears, which is undesirable.

So the fact that a particular detail isn’t in eBird is not definitive of whether the detail is actually available. We have fallen into the habit of wanting everything available right now from one source. That doesn’t work well for bird records.

Alan Contreras
Eugene, Oregon

Nostalgic for Nixon….

> On Sep 27, 2019, at 7:59 PM, Wayne Weber <contopus...> wrote:
> Alex,
> 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
> <contopus...> <mailto:<contopus...>
> From: <obol-bounce...> <mailto:<obol-bounce...> [mailto:<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
> Alex Lamoreaux
> 717-943-7086
> Naturalist and Senior Leader/North America Specialist for Wildside Nature Tours
> <>

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