Posted by: DarkEyedJunc0 | February 26, 2013

Does your List “list?”

My non-birding friends don’t get birding to begin with, and then they just glaze over if I mention a bird that is not “countable.”

“Why can’t you just enjoy the bird?” 

Great question! I’ve had wonderful looks at Common Chaffinch, Hooded Crow,  California Condor, Crested Caracara and now a beautiful Cinnamon Teal. They all seemed to come and go as they pleased. There were no bells or jesses ding-a-linging as they skittishly flew away from photographers and curiosity seekers, but there are rules that say maybe I can “count” them, maybe I can’t!

But questions like “How did it get here?” sometimes overshadow the “validity” of the bird. Exotic pet trade has made birds like finches and waterfowl valuable commodities and easy to obtain. Caracaras are household pets in Mexico – who knew?

“VALIDITY?”….. but it’s a beautiful bird … and I really enjoyed seeing it perch or soar or eat seed at that feeder.

    • The American Birding Association has a whole list of rules around what’s “countable” (http://aba.org/bigday/rules.pdf)
    • Then to further complicate things, each state has to determine whether the bird will be accepted by the “Records Committee.”
    • And just because you can’t count it on your “state list” doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t count it on your “ABA list.”
    • And then there’s your eBird list…

ALL THESE LISTS ARE ENOUGH TO DRIVE A BIRD LISTER BATTY!

The bottom line is… each birder has to decide what their birding “priorities” are.. for some it’s a nice “clean” list (with just countable birds) while others simply enjoy having field time with a beautiful (or curious) creature. Either way, I wish you the good birding you want.

This Cinnamon Teal has been seen in a little petting zoo in Monroe Twp, NJ for two winters. It seems to come and go as it pleases, but it is very tame (it even came to us as we approached the gate.) Should it be "countable?" Should anyone care?

This Cinnamon Teal has reportedly been seen in a little petting zoo in Monroe Twp, NJ for two winters. It seems to come and go as it pleases, but stays in a pond, behind a fence with odd-looking domestic geese, occasionally flying to the lake and returning. It is very tame (it even came to us as we approached the gate.) Should it be “countable?” Should anyone care? YOU MAKE THE CALL!

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Responses

  1. Well said, Lisa. The whole “countable/not countable” thing mystified me when I started birding, and I was a bit skeptical of it, but I’ve come to understand the scientific reasons behind the distinction. At the same time, I still keep ‘debatable’ birds on my life list along with the place I saw them, and if I ever see enough species to reach the magic 4000 in North America, I’ll just remove the questionable ones.

    In the meantime, I’ll continue to enjoy the birds I see, including the odd ducks (or geese or raptors) that show up in our region. And I’ll be grateful for the opportunity, even if they might be escaped captures or ship-assisted arrivals.

    • Couldn’t agree more, Sue, yet, I still have my “equations” that I perform in my head when it comes to “calculating” my lists (minus four for ABA, minus three for NJ)… The more I bird, the more complicated it gets 🙂 A good problem to have!!!


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