To: "Canberra Birds" <>
Subject: terminology
From: "Yarden Oren" <>
Date: Sat, 12 Mar 2005 13:51:21 +1100
Hope I can still add a point of view and that Geoffrey's note was not the bell telling us to stop this discussion line.
Anyhow, the bewilderment over the richness of rarity descriptors is real. Ecologists have been battling the theme long and hard with context, scale and point of view taking its toll. Rarity or for that matter abundance is rich even within a bounded area such as the ACT. Abundance (how many individuals) varies from incidence (at how many locations it is seen). Similarly spatial and temporal incidence are different again and that's even before we have thrown in spatial and temporal variability. Black HEs may be indeed vagrant in the sense that they are eruptive in their range and may appear occasionally whereas a lone Long-tailed Jaeger straying over might be a different story (anecdotally, Jaegers do migrate overland in some areas).
The point I am trying to make is that I (like Harvey ) like this richness to be captured in our descriptors when the context is right (e.g., annual reports) so that we state for example that Grey Fantails local breeders, that their abundance changes from summer to winter, or that pilotbirds are found only in the wet gullies... (or maybe were found until we start finding them again ).
This brings me to the some of the practical aspects. Indeed we wish to inform government, the community and other ornithologically oriented groups of the dynamics and thus status of birds HERE, but on the other hand the species specific descriptors will have no effect beyond our usage. The ACT government will not install a breeding program for the rare Black HE although in regional cooperation there could be programs targeting fire affected species or those extending their ranges and abundances (native or introduced). The bottom line is we should find the terminology that fits us best and that captures richness rather than trying to limit it.
-----Original Message-----
From: Harvey Perkins [
Sent: Friday, 11 March 2005 2:47 PM
Subject: RE: [canberrabirds] terminology

At 2:16 PM +1100 11/3/05, <> wrote:
I take Harveys point about putting in a comma but I feel he has missed my point.

I didn't miss your point (I don't think) - just didn't have time to address the issues adequately...

In the species I have noted, the Black Honeyeater should ONLY be listed as a vagrant, it is NOT a rare bird. In this case I don't think we need the word "rare" to describe it, "vagrant" gives a more than adequate description.

I agree entirely that "vagrant" alone is all that is necessary. (In an ACT context!)

However, in the ABR decriptions there is an attempt (perhaps wrongly) to provide for every species a term for abundance and another for residential status (these are both my terms by the way - I am not a member of the rarities panel and may be somewhat out in what is my interpretation). With regard to the abundance or "commonness" descriptor, I'm sure it is pertinent only to the ACT situation, not the status of the bird Australia-wide. Hence in the ACT, the Black Honeyeater is indeed rare, and it is a vagrant.

 As I said, can anyone show me a listing anywhere for a common, vagrant? 

That does indeed approximate oxymoron status. (though one could perhaps envisage an extraordinary situation where there is a short-term influx of birds that for some reason are forced well out of their normal range - Oriental Pratincoles last year in NW Aust comes to mind but doesn't really fit the bill...)

If, for example, we had a Night Parrot suddenly turn up in Canberra, then I would be prepared to accept a definition of "rare, vagrant". I know there are also variations on what is considered rare - birds of preys versus honeyeaters for example - the term is relative. This could be an interesting topic?..!!

Interesting to a minority of us perhaps!

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