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Michael Retter
West Lafayette, IN
Recent Activity
A. b. belli is indeed restricted to the Californias, but I believe A. b. canescens is a hibernal visitor to Arizona's Colorado River area.
Toggle Commented Aug 6, 2013 on 2013 AOU Check-List Changes at ABA Blog
Thanks, Dave!
Toggle Commented Aug 4, 2013 on 2013 AOU Check-List Changes at ABA Blog
Thanks, Ken. And thanks again for that ground-cuckoo! :-)
Toggle Commented Aug 4, 2013 on 2013 AOU Check-List Changes at ABA Blog
Thanks, Dennis. Other sharp-eyed folks have pointed out this error, as well. The post is the process of being updated.
Toggle Commented Aug 4, 2013 on 2013 AOU Check-List Changes at ABA Blog
Hi, Angus. The supplement does not give rationale for rejecting proposals. It just mentions that they were not accepted.
Toggle Commented Aug 4, 2013 on 2013 AOU Check-List Changes at ABA Blog
Was Upland once Calidris?! It's totally a short-billed curlew in morphology and voice!
Toggle Commented Aug 4, 2013 on 2013 AOU Check-List Changes at ABA Blog
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The July issue of The Auk has just been published by the American Ornithologists’ Union, and like every year, it contains a supplement to the AOU Check-List. The ABA Checklist automatically adopts changes in taxonomy adopted by the AOU, so these changes are in effect immediately with regard to the... Continue reading
Posted Aug 3, 2013 at ABA Blog
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You raise an interesting point, Mike, about the cost (and make) of optics slung around one's neck. Many times, someone with whom I was birding would comment on someone else's binoculars. Sometimes it was along the lines of "Well, they had Swarovskis, so I bet they know what they're talking about." My response was always "Oh, I didn't notice, and what does that matter?" It's just not something I've ever noticed, or thought about needing to pay attention to. I think optics are like big lists: they mostly show you have money to burn, and tell you very little about the person to whom they're attached.
Toggle Commented Jun 13, 2013 on Open Mic: The Field Glass Ceiling at ABA Blog
LGBT birders...that's a whole other topic I'd love to examine critically at some point. My impression could well be biased and incorrect, but I think LGBT birders are *overrepresented* in the birding community, compared to the public at large. I know a fair few LGBT tour leaders, and, heck, two of the ABA's three magazine editors are gay men.
Toggle Commented Jun 12, 2013 on Open Mic: The Field Glass Ceiling at ABA Blog
I started birding seriously as a kid. Many if not most of the most knowledgeable birders I know also started at a young age. There's just something about young, pliable minds. They're able to soak up more knowledge. So it's no surprise to me that most of birding's current leaders and sages (no reflection on their list size) start out this way. When I was a teenager, fewer than 10% of my peers were female. I knew only perhaps three really serious female birders. Two of them, Jessie Barry and Jen Brumfield, are now highly-regarded names in the wider birding community. If we accept that birding leaders are very likely to come from this "young birder" pool, and also accept that the other birders in this cohort in the late '90s and early oughts were mostly male, it makes sense to me that the leaders of the birding community going forward the next couple decades will still be largely majority male. I'm not sure this is inherently a "problem" (I wonder if floral designers and hairdressers have diversity summits to try to see how they can address the "problem" of not having more lesbians and straight men in their ranks), but it seems to me that the best way to try to even out the gender gap is to nurture more young female birders *now*. But since most of the possible mentors are now male, this creates a potential social image problem, both for the mentor and the apprentice. A 55-year-old man may be reluctant to take on a teenaged girl as an apprentice, lest whispers swirl that he is taking advantage of the young girl. Not to mention the reaction by her parents. "You want to go with this older man to which secluded, backwoods location this weekend?!" And then there's the flack the girl may get from her peers for spending time with an unrelated "older man". A complicated issue for sure, but the simplest "solution" I see is fostering an interest and skill in birding in girls at a young age. Only good can come of it.
Toggle Commented Jun 12, 2013 on Open Mic: The Field Glass Ceiling at ABA Blog
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In the December issue of Winging It, Jeff Skrentny shared with us his thorough review of the ABA's "countability" rules. He discovered that, in some cases, "what counts" is not always obvious. What's your take? Based on the ABA Recording Rules, what do you think of Jeff's conclusions? Would you... Continue reading
Posted Feb 4, 2013 at ABA Blog
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Black-and-white hard copies of Winging It are now arriving in the mailboxes of ABA members. Within, you'll find an informative feature article by Jeff Skrentny that attempts to answer many of the "countability" questions we here at ABA are often asked about by our members, such as "Can I count... Continue reading
Posted Jan 5, 2013 at ABA Blog
So is Champaign.
My pleasure, Martin. It's a complicated history that's not easy to find an authoritative source on, and I may well have gotten some of it wrong as it was before my time. But I'm pretty sure that's how it went. It's just a shame I can neither type nor see my own typos. In case anyone was confused, those first two sentences should have read, "Just a couple points to clarify about Baja. It was never officially in the ABA Area..."
Just a couple point to clarify about Baja. It was ever officially in the ABA Area. There was a small window of time when the ABA was in existence and it did not yet have bylaws. During that time, for ABA listing purposes, the AOU Area was used. At at that time, it was Canada + continental US + Baja. A couple years later, the ABA did create a set of bylaws, and within them, the ABA Area was codified as "Canada + continental US + St.-Pierre-et-Miquelon". So it was not really a change in the ABA Area; it was a change from AOU to ABA for ABA listing purposes. Martin, I agree that removing Baja from the equation had little effect, but for a different reason. You said "top listers had to remove a large handful of species". Well, I suppose that depends on what you mean by "a large handful". The following are the Baja endemics: Belding's Yellowthroat, Gray Thrasher, and Xantus's Hummingbird. If you want to split some quasi-species, then you can add Baird's Junco, Cape Pygmy-Owl, and San Lucas Robin. And if you want to add some even shadier splits, there's an Oak Titmouse, a White-breasted Nuthatch, an Acorn Woodpecker, and a Cassin's Vireo. Since the S tip of the peninsula is not attached to the rest of tropical Mexico, none of the tropical species of that region (e.g., Social Flycatcher, Black-throated Magpie-Jay) reaches southern Baja. There are a couple pelagics you can get off the S tip that are not in the U.S., like Townsend's Shearwater, but using the early 70s taxonomy, and assuming a lister had all of the possible Baja "specialties" relative to the US, (s)he is only looking at losing 5–6 species. That doesn't seem like a "large handful" to me. Baja was included by AOU at the time because its avifauna is almost identical to that of California, not because of the influence of California birders who spent a lot of time birding in Baja.
Sorry, Ted, my comment probably was a bit confusing. The middle comment, "more than one birding center," was only mean to convey that the "center" is oddly named. A series of world bird centers? Then again, there are a series of world trade centers, but they're spread out across the world. To call any organization that's regional "World X" is more than a little odd. It's the fact that it/they is/are only in Texas and not named after any event (e.g., the World Series of Birding) that makes World Birding Center a rather arrogant name. I doubt that the entire world birding community came together to decide that it should be located in the United States, let alone Texas. The WBC name makes it seem as if the entire birding world should agree that south Texas is its premier destination.
One cannot be North American without also being American. That's like saying "I live in South Africa, not Africa." Alan, I cannot help but think that if you truly believed what you say, you'd not be bothering to comment every other day on the *American* Birding Association Blog when someone dares to use the word "American". So again, I put this to you: If you want to help right what you perceive is an anti-Canadian bias within the ABA, then step up and be the change you desire. Write an article, a blog post, volunteer to do something, anything, more than leave unhelpful blog comments. If you won't step up, then you can't blame anyone else for doing the same. Or, if the ABA's focus is simply too far gone to be fixed, as you assert above, then why do you care at all? I do not believe that you can have it both ways and remain credible.
Thanks for reminding us that words have definitions with meanings, Ted. Seriously.
Martin, I'm sorry I seem to have misunderstood you and put words in your mouth. But if we cannot all agree that "[the ABA Area boundary, whatever it is] seems to come down to political status and convenience", then I'm not sure I see much point in continuing the discussion. The current southern ABA Area boundary in Texas is the Rio Grande, which is in no way any kind of biogeographical boundary. If the border were instead somewhere south of Port Lavaca, where Red-bellied give way to Golden-fronted woodpeckers, Downy give way to Ladder-backed woodpeckers, Tufted give way to Black-crested titmice, American Crows and Blue Jays disappear, and Pauraques and Green Jays begin, *then* you'd have an argument. But the same problem occurs everywhere else west along the US-Mexican border: it's a line humans drew about 150 years ago based on two wars and a railroad line. To claim that the ABA Area has any kind of legitimate biogeographical basis is simply ridiculous.
Congrats on such an amazing find, David! The fellow at VIREO, however, made a common error that I remember seeing at the time this all happened. Double-toothed Kites are regularly found from southern Mexico south into South America. This includes southern Mexico through Panama, all of which is part of North America. So it's not the first record for North America. It is, however, a first for both the U.S. and the ABA Area.
http://birding.typepad.com/peeps/2011/12/probable-asian-rosy-finch-adak-island-alaska.html
Personally, I don't want to see the ABA to be getting involved in the local politics of records committees. I'd prefer the status quo over that. And there's the totally ridiculous result of *the same bird* becoming magically countable when it flies across an imaginary line. For instance, I saw Trumpeter Swans fly across the Mississippi River from MO to IL many years ago, when (according to the state committees) they weren't countable in IL but were in MO. So if my hypothetical friend, who's never seen a Trumpeter Swan before, doesn't see them until after they fly into IL, she cannot count them? Insanity.
There is no formal process that I'm aware of. I'd suggest sending them an email. Their contact information should be listed in the November Birding.
Perhaps you should make an appeal to the ABA CLC. Or maybe you're already done so?
I've seen a large flock of Nandays in Sycamore Canyon in CA's Point Mugu State Park. I need to do some more research about that population before I feel comfortable counting them, but if I choose to do so, I'm completely within the ABA's rules to do so.