birding-aus It's easy to be stupid!

Subject: birding-aus It's easy to be stupid!
From: "wim vader" <>
Date: Thu, 06 Jan 2000 12:34:03 +0100

                                MISTAKEN IDENTITY IN LOCAL NEWSPAPERS   

The few indignant messages in Birdchat about mistaken identity in Audubon
and in newspapers hit unexpectedly home with me, as I was guilty of the
same thing the other day. We had had a number of phone calls the last week
about 'small wading birds' found in the snow along our fjords, and in all
cases I could get a proper description, they were Little Auks (Dovekies to
you), who have a history of getting lost on land either after high winds or
after periods of food scarcity. (I usually advise the finders to bring the
bird to the shore and 'launch' it there---they have trouble rising from a
snowy surface)

So when a kindergarten on one of the outer islands phoned in and told me
they had found ' a small black and white wading bird', I rashly rushed to
conclusions and told them: 'Aha, another Little Auk! Fits nicely into the
pattern'. As this was a major happening for the kids in the kindergarden,
they had also notified the local newspaper, who sent out somebody who made
wonderful photographs of the relaunching of the 'saved' bird and phoned me,
very properly, for further info about the Little Auk.

This made a very nice story, which I did not see until somebody else, who
reported a little Auk found the next day, told me: 'my bird is not quite
like the one in the newspaper'! So I went to the library and looked up the
newspaper story: excellent photographs of 'Zorro', an unmistakable winter
Puffin (!!!), 'identified as Little Auk by the bird expert professor Wim
Vader'. As I said, it is very easy, but often hard, to be stupid!

                                        Wim Vader, Tromsø Museum
                                        9037 Tromsø, Norway

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