Date: 9/30/19 8:03 pm
From: <clearwater...>
Subject: [obol] Couch's Kingbird discussion: What's the OBOL record for miles x postings?
Hi all,

I was impressed by the gravity of the discussion regarding the potential hypothetical occurrence of Couch's Kingbirds in Oregon.

It sounded like this might be a species that we should all be on the lookout for, despite that it's not depicted in Sibley's guide to Birds of Western North America. It does get a mention in the National Geographic guide (NG3 is the latest one I have).

So I looked on eBird to see if there is some kind of recent pattern of vagrancy that should make us all be paying closer attention. The database shows a total of 12 individual birds that were recorded from anywhere north or west of Texas. Granted, there may be records not represented on eBird, but now languishing in наш Товариш Vladimir Ilyich Lenin's proverbial "dustbin of history." These are apparently the only ones that count in our brave new world:

From To Days Place County State
2 Jan 1998 30 Jan 1998 29 Craig Regional Pk Orange CA
14 Mar 1998 14 Mar 1998 1 Gila Grant NM
24 Sep 2005 24 Sep 2005 1 Tatum Lea NM
13 Jan 2007 20 Feb 2007 39 Tacna Yuma AZ
4 Jan 2008 5 Jan 2008 2 (near El Paso) Dona Ana NM
12 Jan 2015 30 Mar 2015 78 Las Vegas Clark NV
23 Jan 2015 25 Jan 2015 3 Texas Canyon Cochise AZ
23 Dec 2015 18 Jan 2016 27 Visalia Tulare CA
21 May 2016 21 May 2016 1 Boone's Draw Roosevelt NM
11 Nov 2017 21 Dec 2017 41 Ft Lowell Pk Pima AZ
12 Oct 2018 22 Oct 2018 11 Bosque del Apache Socorro NM
24 Aug 2019 26 Aug 2019 3 Elmer Thomas Pk Comanche OK

The individual that came closest to our fair state of Oregon was the one in Visalia, California. According to Google Earth, this spot is 392 miles from the closest point in Oregon (coincidentally or not, in a fairly good spot to look for Juniper Titmouse).

I haven't yet counted up all of the lines of verbiage, insights, and bluster that have been dedicated to the purported need (or lack thereof) to check all Tropical Kingbirds carefully to exclude this less-than-likely visitor. But I suspect the total is well over two lines of verbiage per mile of distance, at closest recorded approach to Oregon. By typing more here, I can help to ensure that this one sets an enduring record for the most verbiage spent on the least likely bird for us to have to worry about. At least until February rolls around, and someone gets restless about the possibility of Wattled Jacana.

I saw some mention of "science" in the foregoing discussion. All useful science operates as much the realm of probability as it does in the realm of certainty. I wish that this level of zeal for certainty could be applied to, say, all of the out-of-habitat reports of certain threatened/endangered species/subspecies and other species of conservation concern that currently fly under the radar of most eBird reviewers' filter settings. There are *much* bigger fish to worry about, for anyone concerned about the scientific integrity of the eBird database.

Meanwhile glad diskutering,

Joel Geier
Greater Tampico, rural Benton County

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