[Tweeters] Re: Monk Parakeet Countability Question

Matt Bartels mattxyz at earthlink.net
Tue Aug 2 13:55:40 PDT 2016

Hi Josh-
Here’s my understanding of the situation — I’d welcome corrections/challenges from others too.
First the easiest pieces:
No, Monk Parakeets are not on the official Washington State List, and no the Monk Parakeets seen in WA are not ‘countable’ by standard ABA rules.
eBird reporting does not distinguish between ‘countable’ and ‘non-countable’ exotics — when you enter a species in eBird, it is added to your state / county / site totals, without comment on whether it is countable or not. Mute Swans are in the same category for WA. The logic to eBird is that the value of documenting and recording the presence of these species outweighs the game of ABA listing ‘countability’ — it is potentially very helpful to have people reporting the presence of birds that are not now, but may some day become established. It could serve as a useful record as data builds in making new decisions about countability.

It would be great if eBird would someday implement a coding change that allowed birders to report species but mark them as ‘do not count on my list totals’ — eBird authorities know of this request, and just don’t see it as a high enough priority to implement ahead of many other projects they are working on. Someday, maybe - but for now there’s potential for a bit of a disconnect between eBird list totals and ‘countable’ list totals. Game birds could well fall in the same category — I’d guess many Wild Turkey & Ring-necked Pheasant reports [not to mention Bobwhites] in many parts of the state are on people’s eBird totals but not technically legitimate to ‘count’ by the ABA rules.

Why aren’t the Yacolt Monk Parakeets countable? The standards set by the ABA are included on the following page:
http://listing.aba.org/criteria-determining-establishment-exotics/ <http://listing.aba.org/criteria-determining-establishment-exotics/>

Looking those over, a few points come up that apply: First, the population is small in number - I did a quick look at the last year of eBird reports, and only one sighting reports over 10 - most report 5-6 birds present. That’s well below what might be considered a stable population number [there is no set number ,but hundreds is probably closer to what’s needed].

Second, the isolation of the population from other colonies is a mark against countability, according to the 2nd point in the guidelines.

Third, sustainability w/o human support is pretty questionable — the Monk Parakeets have been present in Yacolt for a while [at least since 2007 on eBird], but Parakeets are very long-lived, and given the small numbers, it doesn’t seem likely the population is growing in a way a self-sustaining population would.

All of those reasons seem to counsel against considering the Monk Parakeets wild and countable.

The WBRC has not added Monk Parakeet to the state list, and there has been no discussion I’ve heard in recent years about their countability or reconsidering the question.

There’s one big caveat, by my understanding, when it comes to the listing game: Monk Parakeets are ABA countable based on their countable established presence elsewhere in the ABA region. I believe there’s one reading of the ABA listing rules that says approximately: ‘once a bird is on the ABA list, you may apply your own standards to determine whether to count a particular individual’ - the ABA checklist committee does not rule on every specific occurrence once a species is on the overall list. As the link above mentions, the ABA has long-planned to eventually offer guidance on which species are countable in which states [a big project they haven’t gotten to for a long time now] , applying the criteria listed — so the intention is that any personal decisions should be based on those same criteria locally even if the determination is up to the individual for now.

Hope this helps a little — and I’d be interested in additions/corrections/challenges as I’m not an authority on this by any means!

Matt Bartels
Seattle WA

> On Aug 2, 2016, at 12:33 PM, Joshua Glant <josh.n.glant at gmail.com> wrote:


> Hello Tweets,


> Looking on eBird yesterday I noticed two things about the monk parakeets in Yacolt. For one, most eBird reports for the longtime colony come from just this year. In addition, several top eBirders have counted the parakeets as their most recent state list addition. Has there been a change in the countability of this population?


> Good birding, Joshua Glant

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