Date: 9/27/19 10:49 pm From: Robert O'Brien <baro...> Subject: [obol] Tropical vs. Couch's Kingbirds in Oregon (& elsewhere)
I find this discussion useful as it hearkens me back to ~35 years ago when I photographed a stakeout Tropical Kingbird along the Nehalem Loop road. It was a horrible photograph but somehow still appeared in the seasonal section of American Birds. Embarrassing. I did hear several times the characteristic twittering calls and submitted a brief note to that effect to the Oregon Birds Records Committee pointing out that the call eliminated Couch's. At that time, as now, Tropical was just the default species, but it was still a review species. Oddly I got a return note from OBRC saying my submission had not been accepted. Oh well, that was then, this is now; but I'm happy to see the subject raised.
I don't have much to add to the ongoing discussion in the way of opinion, other than a few factual items.. 1. eBird does list Tropical/Couch's as a possible entry so nothing prevents an eBird 'ambiguous' record. 2. Surely if the twittering calls are heard that should be described in the eBird report for Tropical. If not mentioned at all one could only assume the bird was silent. I didn't check all the Oregon Tropical records to see how often the calls were reported, a tedious task. But checking could be done.. 3. OBRC _could_ reopen this/these species for review. Up to them, of course. 4. The farthest NW 'duality' eBird record is from Arcata Bottoms, not all that far from Oregon. The authors of this report go into great detail in the field and in the report, attempting to document the possibility/likelihood of a Couch's among Tropicals.. It makes interesting reading vis a vis the current discussion: https://ebird.org/pnw/view/checklist/S25624460 Still they conservatively list it as Tropical/Couch's. 5. I didn't check all the more southerly dual records, but those I did check didn't attempt to separate the species, often just separating them from Western/Cassin's 6. I was unable to find any guidance from eBird online discussing how to report these species. 7. Here is one eBird report of a Couch's near Fresno CA. The call is mentioned but not described but may be in other reports. Apparently this bird was around a long time. https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S58702176 8. The first accepted California record (Los Angeles,1998) is mentioned here: https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S30803262 9. As Alan has stated, eBird is not the be-all, end-all (yet) for avian distributions, but it surely is the only easily accessible one, a tremendous resource.