[canberrabirds] Updated Annotated Checklist of the Birds of the ACT – No

To: "" <>
Subject: [canberrabirds] Updated Annotated Checklist of the Birds of the ACT – November 2017
From: Philip Veerman <>
Date: Wed, 29 Nov 2017 05:49:15 +0000

About the difficulties in conveying useful information about rareness/commonness, it is partly a language issue. There really is not a word that fits between rare and common, thus we have a hotch potch of qualifier words: rather, fairly, un-, moderately, etc. This is not just a local issue.


About The ‘Status’ column reflects the likelihood that an experienced birder would record the species during a day of bird observing, at the right time of year, in the appropriate habitat. Well that is fine provided it is understood to mean just that. If the sample size is big enough, that should be able to be derived directly from statistical data on recording rates, although there are intervening factors that make this difficult.  It relates to conspicuousness of one individual, it is not of itself about actual numbers present per unit area.


However, the problem is that I believe we mostly think of the concept of rareness/commonness as relating to population density. Thus it is often taken to suggest something about population density, which is a different issue.


So we end up with problems like the Little Eagle being described as “uncommon”, which is more “common” than it is, because it is easy for an experienced birder to record the species because it is easy to find if present, even though few of them around. To illustrate the point, surely there are many more Kestrels around than Little Eagles.


I just had a quick look. Am surprised at Kestrel listed as “uncommon”. Spotless Crake as uncommon, Baillon’s Crake as rare. I would have thought of those 2 the other way around.




From: Geoffrey Dabb [
Sent: Wednesday, 29 November, 2017 9:37 AM
Subject: FW: [canberrabirds] Updated Annotated Checklist of the Birds of the ACT – November 2017


Thank you, David.  A lot of thought must have gone into those descriptions.  I certainly appreciate the difficulties in conveying useful information about rareness/commonness.  May I raise one point?  It concerns the relationship between ‘unusual birds’(with an asterisk) and ‘vagrant’ species. Some ‘unusual’ birds are ‘visitors’, and several ‘vagrants’ have no asterisk.


The definition of ‘vagrant’ includes ‘A species with fewer than ten probably independent occurrences recorded in the ACT.’   Is that an additional ground for designation as a vagrant, that is a possible alternative to the species being outside its ‘usual range’?  I suppose a species might be within its usual range here but have less than ten records, and vice versa.


I had thought the cut-off for rarities requiring assessment by the Rarities Panel was less than ten records.  However some ‘unusual’ species have the status of ‘visitor’ rather than ‘vagrant’: White-throated Nightjar, Banded Lapwing,  Australian Painted-snipe,   Little Button-quail (compare Red-chested Button-quail which is ‘vagrant’ but not ‘unusual’), Black-eared Cuckoo.  Perhaps the ‘unusuals’ list is not as up-to-date as this list.


I am pleased to see ‘Pied Stilt’.  I am told this will be taken up in the next revision of the IOC list.


From: David McDonald (personal) [
Sent: Tuesday, 28 November 2017 9:58 PM
To: CanberraBirds
Subject: [canberrabirds] Updated Annotated Checklist of the Birds of the ACT – November 2017


COG’s Annotated Checklist of the Birds of the ACT was updated in November 2017, under the authority of the Committee of COG. It is available online in PDF format at . The new version is dated 22 November 2017, and contains 305 taxa.

The taxonomic order and nomenclature—English and scientific names—used in this checklist largely follow Birdlife Australia’s Working List of Australian Birds, version 2.1 (BLA’s WLAB), in accordance with COG’s policy on the matter.

The ‘Status’ column reflects the likelihood that an experienced birder would record the species during a day of bird observing, at the right time of year, in the appropriate habitat.

The Checklist identifies threatened species, i.e. those declared Endangered or Vulnerable in the ACT or NSW. For more detailed information on the status of the birds of the ACT and region, please see COG’s Annual Bird Report, produced annually and available online at (by scrolling down to the Archives and looking for the most recent edition).

Under the auspices of COG’s Committee, I prepared the 2017 revision, supported by Chris Davey and with inputs from some other COG members.

The main updates reflect:
•    Changes to BLA’s WLAB taxonomic order and nomenclature, e.g. changing the Australian Pipit to Australasian Pipit and Ninox novaeseelandiae to Ninox boobook
•    Additions to the ACT list that have been endorsed by COG’s Rarities Panel, e.g. Tawny Grassbird, and
•    Changes to the status of some species, e.g. White-bellied Sea-Eagle changed from non-breeding to breeding.

In addition, the Supplementary List that was appended to the previous (2014) edition, is no longer present. This is because it included many species for which there are no accepted records. These have been deleted, and the species in the former Supplementary List with valid ACT records have been moved into the single, consolidated, Annotated Checklist. The status of the re-introduced species, e.g. Magpie Goose and Bush Stone-curlew, have been clarified.

All updates to the common or scientific names will be reflected in the Canberra Nature Map .

Please direct any comments, suggestions or queries to me at , or phone 0416 231 890.

With thanks - David

David McDonald
1004 Norton Road
Wamboin NSW 2620
T: (02) 6238 3706
M: 0416 231 890
F: (02) 9475 4274
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