Subject: terminology
From: Harvey Perkins <>
Date: Fri, 11 Mar 2005 15:32:51 +1100
Oh dear what have I started? We seem to be working on several different wavelengths here.

You've started just what you wanted, haven't you? :)

As I said right at the beginning of this series of emails I am NOT criticising anyone,

I hope it wasn't me you thought was feeling criticised - not at all. I've simply been trying to make a couple of points for the sake of this discussion without the time to expand properly. There is always an inherent danger with emails, in which intonation, volume, facial expressions etc are missing, that text can be misinterpreted. I'm having a ball!

really I am trying to get people to think about how we "describe" the status of our birds. For a long time after COG managed to get the Brown Treecreeper listed as a vulnerable species in the ACT it kept turning up in the Annual Bird Reports as a "Common, breeding species". People obviously were not reading these descriptors. I think it was after a Rarities Panel meeting where I pointed this sort of thing out that the descriptors where they needed it, were changed.

I must admit that personally I'd prefer to see a flexible prose-based system of description which would hopefully provide a spot-on synthesis without the scope for misinterpretation. Restricting ourselves to two overly-narrow descriptors for commonness and residence status without being able to introduce any sense of subtlety (as well as an unforgivably slow process of status updating) is what is leading to all these problems.

Benj and Harvey are both right when they say theBlack Honeyeater is rare in the ACT but COG (and the Annual Bird Report) does not cover the ACT alone. Unless we specify that we are ONLY dealing with the ACT we are giving a false impression to someone from say Tasmania, or probably from overseas, that the Black Honeyeater is rare when, in parts of NSW and elsewhere in Australia, it can be abundant.

I thought it was taken as read that the descriptions in COG's publications, ie the "List" and the ABR etc, were pertinent specifically to the ACT and "COG area of Concern". I'll certainly make sure that it is spelled out more clearly in the next ABR.

And this really is my last contribution before I leave and enjoy some real birds at Weddin Mtns...


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