Re: Listing dilemma

To: (Birding Aus)
Subject: Re: Listing dilemma
From: Paul Taylor <>
Date: Mon, 4 Nov 1996 18:30:12 +1100 (EST)
> When a question came up some time ago on counting birds as lifers if you've 
> seen them on television, I commented that "how could you in your heart count 
> them as a lifer if you haven't really seen the bird in the wild - in life - 
> doing it's thing naturally".

I don't object to people keeping "television lists" of birds, but a TV bird
should *never* make it on to a life list.  The only possible exception to this
I could think of was seeing *and* videotaping a bird, then replaying the video
to get a positive identification.

(Sidenote:  For those who do keep TV lists, and count heard-only birds on it:
 hire the movie "Congo" - you should get at least half a dozen *Australian*
 birds, and at least one Aussie frog!  Good for a laugh, if nothing else.  :)
> I would make the same comment about this:  how could those birdos in their 
> heart count the bird as a Minnesota bird in the circumstances where the bird 
> did not cross the river in fully natural circumstances?  They can do this 
> because they're not really "birdwatchers" doing it for the love of the hobby
> - they're merely chasing numbers - and I would suggest that the listing
> should be disallowed.

Here we run into another subjective question:  What should be considered
"fully natural circumstances"?  There seems to be a reasonable case for
arguing that tapes are unnatural.  But is "pishing" unnatural?  Squeakers?
Bird feeders?  And should a distinction be made between "accidental"
attractions (e.g. a rare bird turns up unexpectedly at a feeder) and
deliberate luring (knowing a rare bird is in the area, and putting out
some juicy morsels that are known to be its favourite snack)?
Personal views:
* Tapes are *out*.  Sure, I may be doing myself out of some difficult species
  by not taping (and probably regret it later ;) but I feel it isn't sporting.
* Pishing/squeaking is okay, since you are producing a noise rather than
  reproducing a live bird's call.  I've found that pishing usually repels as
  many birds as it attracts, so is something of a two-edged sword...
* Feeders are iffy, for dietary considerations if nothing else.

> We don't want birdwatching as a hobby (and serious interest to many) brought 
> to ridicule by these sorts of activities.  It could also endanger
> conservation efforts and projects if people who are not pro-conservation
> could quote stories like this, as conservation often relates to specific
> sites.

Another twist to the story which may or may not change your views:
Apparently, the Pygmy Nuthatch is well out of its range in North Dakota.
Some have argued that the risks of luring the bird across the river are
negligable compared to being in N.D. at all; others say it is even more
reason to leave the poor thing alone.

It shall be interesting to see how their Records Committee handles the
situation.  Apparently, four of the seven members saw the bird, and
presumably are biased towards its addition...  Even if the ruling is in
the affirmative, there have been calls for a general vote on the matter by
MOU members that may overrule the decision (though a large proportion
of members have also seen the bird.)

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