Ever since I learned that the Muscovy Duck I discovered in a Central Park pond was not countable by ABA standards, I’ve grappled with the question of “What is Wild?” Most listers sail the same stormy seas. Alvaro Jaramillo, brilliant bird guide and proprietor of Alvaro’s Adventures, just tackled this thorny topic on the ABA Facebook page. I’ve republished the full initial statement with Alvaro’s kind permission in order to elicit the kind of nuanced discussion 10,000 Birds readers are so good at:
Listing is just a game, but one that many take seriously. The rules of the game, and what you can and cannot count, are the domain of the ABA. So while we are dealing with Hawaii and all, let’s change how one rule is applied! Let’s call it the California Condor exception. The reason we do not allow introduced species onto checklists until they are breeding and self sustaining for many generations is that without this rule you could go to a pet store, release a bunch of crazy colorful finches and count them all on your yard or state list. Clearly this is not good. But when you have a native bird that has been taken into captivity due to conservation problems, and then you release these birds back into their native range – THESE ARE NOT INTRODUCTIONS. These are restorations of populations, and they should not have to wait and jump through the hoops that a myna, Ring-necked Parakeet or other truly introduced bird would need to do. They should be counted immediately, or hey give them a day to recuperate or something. They should be treated more like banded and released birds at a banding station, NOT LIKE INTRODUCTIONS.
Seeing a condor out in the wild is amazing, fantastic, magical, spiritual – even if they have a blue wing tag. In fact seeing they have a wing tag makes it even more magical to me – people care!!! In my heart I count condors, but if I was to send in a list of birds I have seen in the ABA or California I would not be able to? That is crazy to me. Let’s stop treating restorations of native species (be they condors, Aplomado Falcons, or whatever) in the same way as we treat introductions of exotics. Anyone with me?
Whether you bird in the ABA area or outside it, you may have some thoughts on Alvaro’s comments, which I happen to agree with fully. Please join the rousing discussion here or on the ABA Facebook page.