Date: 9/27/19 9:41 pm
From: Josh Spice <joshspice...>
Subject: [obol] Re: Those fall kingbirds
I'm not experienced in detailed kingbird ID, but think about what you just
said, Wayne... I'm not saying Alex is right, but I am definitely arguing
your logic (not the facts, but the thinking).

If, as you said, Alex is right about the ID issue of the two species (which
I do know is true), to say you can use typical ranges as confirmed ID IS
LUDICROUS. To do that is boosting the tropical range and reducing the
couch's range.

I highly doubt ONLY vocal IDs (or even in-hand netted birds) are actually
used to create the range maps of both tropical and couch's kingbirds.
I highly suspect most IDs that create the tropical's range map are visual
IDs of kingbirds assumed to be tropicals, like you suggest doing, not
actually confirmed by voice tropicals. That means couch's could be being
included in the tropical range, and therefore, EXCLUDED from their own
range (PNW maybe?), because birders are wrongly doing as you suggest -
making IDs based on "it couldnt be that other species because they dont
live here."

To say you should ID a species by range alone is making an assumption off
of an assumption, and that is a cyclical compounding scenario. (It must be
a tropical cuz all the other previous tropical/couchs have been IDd as
tropical because couch's dont live here)
That is egregiously wrong.

For most bird sightings, sure, ranges are definitely a first bottleneck to
think of and most species arent nearly impossible to visually distinguish,
but we should never make an ID of any bird based on typical ranges alone.
This is especially true for species like these two, that are nearly
impossible to know which it is unless it vocalizes.

The range maps you suggest should really have giant asterisks on them.
Maybe you're right in that there arent many couch's in the west. That could
actually be true. Maybe the range maps are actually pretty accurate in
where tropicals and couch's actually USUALLY live. But if theyre based on
visual IDs, no, they are not, and then you definitely cant make ANOTHER
assumption in using ranges to ID a kingbird as tropical or couch's. And my
money is going on that's probably the case.

Most in the PNW probably are tropicals, but you cant just assume that.

I'm not saying using ranges is wrong, but ID cant stop there. If that's all
you have to go on, then YES, we should mark them as tropical/couch's.
There are rare birds being reported waaaay "outside their ranges" everyday.
If we blew them off, ever, their true range maps would not be known or at
least wouldnt be truthful. We shouldnt assume a kingbird in the PNW is a
tropical just cuz of where we are. That's absurd. If you're doing that, why
are you on OBOL and getting rare bird alerts? Why do you look at gulls?
Dowitchers? Hell, 'Canada geese' even? If you arent being accurate with
your data, either mark it "unknown" with a slash or it's useless AND
misleading, harmful data. But that would be a hit on pride, wouldn't it?

And please stop being so elitist. No one cares how long you've been birding
when you have an attitude like that. Amateur birders should know to not
make assumptions like you suggest. I've been birding 20 years and I'll
gladly listen to any and all advice on bird ID, from ANYONE EXCEPT pompous

Telling someone to never comment again is being an absolute ass. It's
ironic when the person doing so is actually wrong.

All other birders, please keep the emails and advice and wisdom coming.
Thank you in advance.

Mark your species only as far as you can confirm. We cant positively ID
every bird, to echo another recent thread.

On Fri, Sep 27, 2019, 22:00 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...>
> *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
> Alex Lamoreaux
> 717-943-7086
> Naturalist and Senior Leader/North America Specialist for Wildside Nature
> Tours

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