[Tweeters] RE: 'Exotic' Species on State Lists

Hal Michael ucd880 at comcast.net
Sun Jun 7 18:18:06 PDT 2015

One thing to remember with Mute Swan is that the stat banned personal possession of them about 20 years ago. Whether or not this is well enforced is an open question but birds seen now (vs in the 1980s) have a higher probability of having flown in from out of state.

Hal Michael
Science Outreach Director, Sustainable Fisheries Foundation
Olympia WA
360-791-7702 (C)
ucd880 at comcast.net

----- Original Message -----

Mostly my thoughts pertain specifically to comments on Mute Swans by Wayne and Matt, both of who I respect deeply.

I keep my personal lists according to the ABA, both state lists and my NA list. However, remember that lists are personal and nothing keeps anyone from keeping complete lists of birds seen whether they are exotic or not. The ABA list will remain in flux and change regularly. Not too many years ago we had one species known as Sage Sparrow. Now we have two known as Sage Sparrow and Sagebrush Sparrow. If you kept a complete list of sightings you would have been able to add a species to your list without making a trip to California.

Changes in bird populations are dynamic and ever-changing. I can remember not so long ago when everyone in the state chased after the rare and elusive vagrant known as the Eurasian Collared-Dove. In a few short years they went from a rare vagrant to a complete nuisance, breeding in every niche in the state. There is also a movement at this time to eradicate (or at least dramatically reduce) Caspian Terns and DC Cormorants from the avian biomass in the Columbia Basin. Does this mean that since there is a concerted and official effort to remove these populations that people should not count those species if seen in the area and attempted eradication? Of course not.

That is not to say that the Mute Swan is going to do the same as the Eurasian Collared-Dove, but it is likely that they will become established and a viable bird on the state list. Recently I saw a photo of a Mute Swan with what appeared to be a Trumpeter Swan paired on a wetland near Quincy, WA. The Mute Swan was not likely transported there by human means. Rather, it likely arrived the same way the Trumpeter Swan arrived. Does that mean it is a vagrant? From what population did it come from? No one can reliably answer any of those questions for a sighting in the Columbia Basin far away from any known populations in the rest of the state. At the same time the Mute Swans that are being seen in the Puget Trough came from somewhere. If the sightings are increasing then it is reasonable to assume they are either breeding locally or the population is being supplemented by an established population in the Vancouver/Victoria area. Regardless if they are escapees from the aviculture industry or influx from Canada they should be recorded and noted. Whether you put them on your list, or not, is entirely up to you.


Doug Schonewald
Moses Lake, WA

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