2020-D-1: Revise the linear sequence of the Trochilini

YES. 7 without comment.

YES. The proposed sequence is based on the best available data.

YES. Needed following our votes on the 2020-A proposal.

YES. Straightforward save for the conflicts between Hernández-Baños et al. (2020) and McGuire et al. (2014). I agree that keeping the Lesser Antillean taxa together makes sense in light of the phylogenetic uncertainty for the Riccordia group.

YES. Seems like all these changes either reflect the known phylogeny or are the best approach given existing uncertainties.

2020-D-2: Add Graylag Goose Anser anser to the US list

YES. 3 without comment.

YES. Justification given in the proposal.

YES, based on ABA and local rarities committees treatments.

YES. ABA has done “due diligence” on considering wild origin vs. escapes.

YES. Seems likely that this is a wild Anser anser rather than a domestic individual. Also seems wise to follow the local authorities in CT and accept the record to the US list.

YES. I fully agree that these records likely represent wild birds, especially given the recent increase in the records of other European geese, such as Barnacle and Pink-footed

YES. For the Connecticut bird we need the last date of its presence. It turned up on 22 February 2009. There is a published color photo in NAB 63:354. The bill is clearly pink, thus nominate anser. The caption says it was found on 22 February and it “remained there through the end of the period. The published photo indicates it was taken on 8 March 2009. We don’t have the last date, but have inquired on that with Greg Hanisek, the bird’s finder. It is odd that there is no mention of this bird in the text for the New England region in either the winter or spring report for NAB. Yes, the origin of the Rhode Island bird may be suspect.

YES. The Avian Records Committee of Connecticut seems to have done a good job in vetting their bird’s provenance. Wild occurrences in NE United States are to be expected given the other European Anser species that show up there.

YES. I agree that these are likely of wild origin and, more generally, with following state committees on these issues unless there are special concerns.

2020-D-3: Add Eurasian Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus to the US list

YES. 5 without comment.

YES. Justification given in the proposal.

YES. Published documentation, including photos, of the Aleutians bird is convincing.

YES. Photos from Alaska are diagnostic for ostralegus. Breeds in Kamchatka.

YES. Non-controversial and expected.

YES. Published photo; ID vetted by experts.

YES. Identifiable photo.

2020-D-4: Add European Golden-Plover Pluvialis apricaria to the US list

YES. 5 without comment.

YES. Justification given in the proposal.

YES. The 2016 record from New Jersey has a nice photograph on eBird (https://ebird.org/checklist/S31363259). The specimen from Alaska is certainly correct, but there are no photos in the Western Birds article.

YES. Great to see a voucher associated with the Ketchikan record.

YES. Incontrovertible evidence of an expected species.

YES. Specimen.

YES. Specimen record.

2020-D-5: Add Tahiti Petrel Pseudobulweria rostrata to the US list

YES. 6 without comment.

YES. Justification given in the proposal.

YES. The Hawaii bird is obvious, as are the photos of the North Carolina bird. I quickly searched the files of the Carolina Bird Club and I see that the NC record was accepted by the state committee. I was unable to access the actual committee report as I am not a Carolina Bird Club member. But a partial citation is: Swick, N. list of other committee members. Annual Report of the North Carolina Bird Records Committee. Chat 83:17-21.

YES. The North Carolina record is outrageous and very well documented (https://ebird.org/checklist/S46171326).

YES. Published photo; ID vetted by experts.

YES. Published photo.

2020-D-6: Add Dark-billed Cuckoo Coccyzus melacoryphus to the US list

YES. 4 without comment.

YES. Justification given in the proposal.

YES. Photos of the Florida bird are diagnostic. I voted for the Texas record too with the ABA-CLC, and assume now that all will accept that record too.

YES. The ms on the Florida bird is in review. Given the similar date as the Florida record, Texas record is probably a legit wild bird, though it could have been found in Mexico (very unlikely?).

YES. Obviously a necessary addition.

YES. Specimen. This is a common, long-distance, austral migrant, and probably among the top 10 most likely South American birds to show up in USA.

YES. Specimen. Austral migrant, so not a big surprise.

YES. Multiple lines of evidence support it.

2020-D-7a: Add Red-backed Shrike Lanius collurio to the Main List

YES. 1 without comment.

YES. Hard decision to make, but in the end, I decided to vote yes to be consistent with AKCLC and ABACLC. To me, we should have strong evidence against a given ABA-CLC decision to override it, and I don’t see strong evidence here. The evidence might be inconclusive, but not strong enough to argue against it being something other than a Red-backed Shrike.

YES, based on other comments.I original voted for adding it to the Appendix (option b), but the comments convinced me otherwise.

YES. I don’t really have sufficient expertise with the relevant taxa to make a well-informed decision. I vote in favor of this because Pam, who does have relevant expertise, thinks it should be added to the list, as does Andy who has considered the issue at length. Finally, we typically follow the ABA committee in such instances. I hesitate to second guess them without a compelling reason to do so. 

YES. While I am sympathetic to biases in wanting to add birds to one’s life list, comments on this proposal lead me to consider that this is a valid record.

YES. Others’ comments have changed my original vote.

YES. After reading the proposal I was prepared to be unable to support adding it to the Main List, given the typical difficulty of identification of juvenile shrikes coupled with the number of putative hybrids I’ve seen in collections. However, review of the photo in Pyle et al. (2019) has allayed my concerns. I don’t see any reason to believe this is not a pure Red-backed Shrike, based on plumage color, pattern, and proportions. It is a good photo that shows all the main features, and looks exactly typical of the species. Of course, as with most species from species complexes, there is always the possibility of some genetic contribution from other species, but given that the initial basis for the entire regional list (and basically every list) is specific identification on external characters that are visible on specimens and/or photos, if we adopt the position that we can’t add this to the list because it might be genetically impure (even though we can see no evidence of that), we are holding it to a different standard for acceptance than other taxa.

YES. I am going to be consistent with my ABA-CLC vote, because I was able to spend a lot more time with this record at the time. Nonetheless, I greatly respect Dan Gibson’s misgivings, and I thank all of the detailed context in the comments. This is what I wrote for my ABA-CLC vote:

Another meticulously documented bird by Lehman, Rosenberg et al. Even as a museum scientist, I don’t see what Dan Gibson’s gripe is. He actually seems to fault them for getting such good detail. Yes, we know relatively little about central/eastern Asian birds, but operating from the point of the current known knowledge (plumage, structure, etc.), we have a pretty good idea what these species look like, and bit of knowledge what at least F1 hybrids look like (or should look like). I don’t see how you can put this one into any box other than the one labelled Red-backed Shrike. I vote to Accept.

NO. 2 without comment.

NO. See 2020-D-7b for comments.

2020-D-7b: Add Red-backed Shrike Lanius collurio to the Appendix

YES. I went back and forth on this one a lot, but ultimately I tend to agree with the arguments laid out in the proposal that there are still aspects of Lanius identification that are not well resolved, especially in this plumage, and that the taxonomy and status of hybrids is also not well resolved. I think it is very likely that this was a Red-backed Shrike, but I agree that the Appendix is a good place for this record.

YES. I understand the NACC regularly defers to local authorities / ABA-CLC for identification, but this seems a tricky situation. I agree with the proposal that I’m not sure what we gain from adding Lanius collurio to the main list if there is any reasonable concern in its correct identification given the juvenile plumage of the individual and the possibility of hybrid origin. It seems like records like this are exactly why the Appendix exists, but I am happy to defer to committee members that deal more regularly with vagrant records and their inclusion / exclusion in our main list and appendices.

YES. I see that the NACC has voted to accept this bird to the Main List and unless votes change, that’s the way it will appear in the 61st Supplement. I respectfully dissent. The species belongs in the Appendix, not on the Main List. Many of the reasons for my view are laid out in the motion, but basically I find myself agreeing with much of Daniel D. Gibson’s dissent in the Alaska Checklist Committee. For some birds it is not enough to just photograph a rarity and write a description, all at “arm’s length.” Without exhaustively going through the issues raised in the motion, the expert endorsement amounts to Lars Svensson’s comment: the “Gambell shrike showed no features that indicate a hybrid origin.” For me the crux of the issue is that we are describing an immature (mostly juvenal plumaged) bird. To my knowledge the juvenal or supplemental plumage of a hybrid has never been described, or at least I can’t find any reference to it in the literature. So how would one know? I realize that various and structural features all fit within what is viewed as typical of a juvenile L. collurio, but I question the certainty of some of the structural (and mensural) characters deciphered. Or put another way, I would have much higher confidence had the bird actually been in-hand and measured. And, I share Dan’s concerns about the level of expertise about what is essentially a Central Asia issue. European expertise is also at arm’s length.

I do have a few other comments, issues that were not detailed in the motion. Lehman et al. (2019) state: “Turkestan and Isabelline Shrikes are also eliminated on both structure and on plumage. Those species seem more separable in mostly juvenile plumage than in, for example formative male plumage, such as shown by the hybrid bird from Mendocino County, CA.” This statement troubles me for a variety of reasons, but mainly because I haven’t seen this view opined in any of the European literature, and again no juvenile hybrids have ever been described to my knowledge, so how is this age class more separable? The statement seems to be aimed at a single bird, the Mendocino bird. Then on p. 262 (Lehman et al. 2019) there is discussion about 180 degree opposite orientation from a normal migratory path. Seven species are mentioned that have occurred at Gambell and elsewhere in North America whose breeding range includes Central Asia. The same vector analysis is hypothesized in Pyle et al. (2015). So, OK, let’s agree that Central Asia is the likely source of origin for some of the vagrants which have occurred in North America, including this Red-backed Shrike. Indeed where else would it have originated from (Europe?). Central Asia is full of hybrid shrikes, particularly between Lanius collurio and L. phoenicuroides. The parentage of the one other potential Red-backed Shrike that appeared in North America, the Mendocino bird, was believed to have been of that hybrid combination.

H. Shirihai and Lars Swensson (Handbook of Western Palearctic Birds, volume II, Passerines, Flycatchers to Buntings) do state that the primary projection in L. collurio is longer [than L. phoenicuroides], but the difference is small and cannot always be used. They state that a hybrid female [presumably an adult female] is frequently very difficult to separate from either parent species. They also mention that Red-backed hybridizes locally in Central Asia with Turkestan Shrike and in Altai with Isabelline Shrike producing all kinds of mixtures. There is no mention in the account of hybrid juvenal or supplemental plumages.

Tim Worfolk (Identification of red-backed, isabelline and brown shrikes, Dutch Birding 22:323-362) in 2000 states that single hybrids may be found breeding throughout the range of L. phoenicuroides.

Tony Harris states in his Shrikes and Bush Shrikes in 2000 (Princeton University Press) that “Lanius isabellinus [includes phoenicuroides in the species] hybridizes with Red-backed Shrike in at least four zones, resulting in a very confusing identification of buffy shrikes’, which in the past led to the naming of at least 13 forms, which have since been invalidated.”

Rasmussen and Anderton (Birds of South Asia, The Ripley Guide, volume 2: Attributes and Status) state that Red-backed Shrikes found in the western portion of the region are formerly listed as the nominate subspecies, but “some or all are of eastern kobylini.” No mention is made about the occurrence of hybrids.

In Birds of the Western Palearctic, volume VII, there is the statement in the account for Red-backed Shrike under Geographical Variation (p. 477-478): “thus both pallidifrons and kobylini probably result from influence of neighboring species, each inhabiting only a narrow zone and having its individuals strongly variable – so recognition of either is dubious. There is also an earlier statement (ibid): “but this [kobylini] is also a poor race; difference from nominate collurio only visible in comparison of series of skins, and 50% of specimens inseparable.” And, “characters of kobylini are probably due to gene flow from L. isabellinus phoenicuroides,…”

I certainly haven’t read all of the literature on hybrids in this complex, some of which is in Russian, but have read enough to know that hybridization is a real problem with the identification of adults, particularly females, and it isn’t even addressed in younger birds. It is certainly apparent that hybridization is very frequent, particularly between L. collurio and L.phoenicuroides. Given the significance of the Gambell bird, a hemispheric first, I just think acceptance is unwarranted given the confidence level needed, even if the characters seem to fit L. collurio. 

To bring the issue home, I realize we are all basically grounded at this extraordinary time. I walk my streets here in Rovana in Inyo County, CA and look at the earlier migrants. These include a good number of Yellow-rumped Warblers, for which I have seen a number of males in alternate plumage. Two of them have shown pretty obvious intermediate characters between “Myrtle” and “Audubon’s.” These birds tend to have the throat shape of “Myrtle” and the throat is whitish, but with a pale yellow wash, particularly in the center. The face, including auricular and supercilium are intermediate, the wing more like “Myrtle.” At least that’s what I noted from my sample size of two! I have seen other intermediates here in spring (males) in previous years. I may have once looked at a winter immature and wondered about it being an intermediate, but didn’t claim it. I wouldn’t go there and I haven’t heard of others identifying such birds either. For good reason!

NO. 8 without comment.

2020-D-8: Add Long-legged Buzzard Buteo rufinus to the Main List

YES. 6 without comment.

YES. Justification given in the proposal.

YES. The identification looks well-established and I have no issues with origin on this bird that reached this remote (from main range) location.

YES. This is what I wrote in my “accept” vote to the ABA-CLC: This record has been extensively analyzed by many, and I cannot add too much, as I really do not have much experience with Old World buzzards. That said, the analyses back up the identification as Long-legged Buzzard. This particular plumage (pale adult) especially appears diagnostic, with the unbarred tail (white basal, orange distal), large carpal patches, dark belly, pale rufous head and breast with little streaking, and almost completely unfeathered tarsi.

YES. An easy ID, especially considering how difficult this genus can be. Nice to see such great photos.

YES. Published photo; ID vetted by experts.

2020-D-9: Retain the English name Comb Duck for Sarkidiornis sylvicola

YES. 3 without comment.

YES. And I gladly endorse Knob-billed Duck for S. melanotos.

YES. This name is reasonable, assuming that the SACC also votes in favor.

YES. As long as we are following the SACC. It seems that the old world taxon has been long known as Knob-billed, and Comb Duck has been used in the Americas.

YES. The points made about Knob-billed Duck being most commonly used in Africa over many years, and widely used also in Asia where the bird is generally much less familiar, make this situation analogous to the other cases where we have opted to retain a name of the combined taxon for one of the split taxa.

YES. I’m uneasy about this for a couple of reasons. It is my hope that Knob-billed Duck will be widely adopted within the Old World. Also the names of “Comb” and “Knob-billed” don’t particularly describe a difference between the two taxa. But happy to await a decision by the SACC and will tentatively retain Comb Duck for now for the New World species.

YES. Well-reasoned proposal, I think simpler is generally better for common names and Comb Duck / Knob-billed Duck are widely already in use in their respective geographic regions.

YES, especially if “Knob-billed Duck” is in widespread use in the Old World. I did like the compound names because they reflect the sister relationship as well as the similarity between the two.

YES. This seems like a reasonable case for maintaining the current usage in the New World, given that the Old World seems to have settled on a long-standing alternative.