To: <>
Subject: terminology
From: "Geoffrey Dabb" <>
Date: Fri, 11 Mar 2005 15:22:45 +1100
We may need to watch where we put our feet on this one.
First, some published regional lists define their terms.  This is a good idea, and should reduce confusion, even if the reader is not happy with the given definitions.
Secondly, I would agree with Mark that 'vagrant' should not be a synonym for 'rare' or 'very rare'.  The reason is that most people have some kind of shared understanding of what is meant by 'rare' or 'very rare' - although, again, a given definition would aid precision.
On the other hand, we lack a short term for 'Has been recorded in the relevant area, but was (well?) outside its normal range'.
Here we lose sight of our feet in murky waters.   What is a 'normal range', or even a 'range'?  Many descriptions of range merely indicate where a bird usually occurs, even if it has been regularly if very infrequently recorded elsewhere, perhaps as a result of unusual (long-term cyclical?) climatic conditions.  And just when does a 'former range' become 'former', or for that matter, a first record in a new place create ipso facto a new range?
I fear we may be whistling in the wind seeking consensus on what  such words connote or denote.
To avoid the need for it, better to follow the approach in 'Rare Birds of Britain and Europe', thus:
Status codes
A =  1-10 individuals recorded  (ie in the area of interest)
B =  11-50
C =  51-100
D =  over 100
It is only necessary to designate as such birds transported by human agency, if this is known.
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