[Tweeters] American Birding Association [ABA] checklist updates

Matt Bartels mattxyz at earthlink.net
Mon Apr 1 04:57:35 PDT 2019

Well, the larger political moment finally made it to our little past time …. They probably waited until the completion of the Mueller report to act…. Anyway for those who haven’t seen it:

Today the American Birding Association announced full support for President Trump’s agenda, in a post titled “MAGA: Make ABA Great Again!” –

Most significantly, the ABA listing area, just years after expanding to include Hawaii, will no longer consider migrant birds from south of the border as ‘countable’ on official ABA life lists. ABA President Jeff Gordon said: “These birds, they come across our border and stay just long enough to breed and have a baby – taking advantage of the terrible terrible loophole in American Birding rules that treats these new birds as native. No more! A great country needs to protect American Birds first, not these invaders from south of the border. And I tell you, they aren’t sending their best. They don’t send their Resplendent Quetzels; they don’t send their Toucans or their Oropendolas. No, they send warblers, their sparrows, their swallows. Some of them, I’m sure, are good birds.”

The ABA is looking into measures to divert member dues to efforts to enhance the wall at the southern border in order to better protect against migrant birds. Ornithologists remain skeptical that a wall could be effective against birds, citing their wings and ability to fly. Others disagree. In the face of objections to the changes, Gordon was defiant, noting: “What do you expect? We are a past time so heavily dominated by old white guys that you’d have to be naïve to think we wouldn’t eventually move in Trump’s direction.”

A resistance is forming at local levels against this effort, but it is still unclear how effective they will be. Local Bird Records Committee, long the final arbiter on the official state checklists, are lining up to announce that they will not enact the ABA rules. It seems likely that the disagreement will end up in the hands of the AOS checklist committee, a committee recently re-staffed by ABA President Gordon with new members suspiciously lacking in ornithological credentials.

In the meantime, birders are scrambling to understand wintering ranges for the birds they’ve already seen in an effort to generate their new ABA life lists.

The status of Canada and Canadian birds, meanwhile, remains unresolved.

In a bright spot, vagrant birds from Siberia will continue to be welcome and will count on ABA checklists – Alaskan tour groups expect to see a bump in their business, as events like the Lower Rio Grande Birding Festival relocate to accommodate the new demand.

Matt Bartels
Seattle, WA

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