Tuesday, December 31, 2013

ABA area bird #520 (#515): Nutmeg Mannikin

Nutmeg Mannikin
Nutmeg Mannikin. Lake Hodges, California. December 1, 2013. Greg Gillson.
In September 2013 the American Birding Association, following the lead of the California Bird Records Committee, accepted Nutmeg Mannikin onto the official list of "countable" birds north of Mexico as an established exotic. In other words, their great-great-grandparents may have escaped their cages in San Diego or Tijuana, but they've been reproducing like mad for a decade or more in the wild and are not going away any time soon.

Actually there are 8 criteria they need to meet before they are accepted. And, bummer, if an established exotic ever dies out you have to take it off your list. For instance, if all the starlings or house sparrows die out in North America, they never counted--it's as if they never existed. This actually happened to me with Crested Mynas that lived for a century in Vancouver, British Columbia. I saw them in 1973 and/or 1975 (my notes are missing from those trips). Poof! They're gone. I've never seen one. The rules say so. So you see, that, as they say, is that.

Birds in southern California from San Diego north to Santa Barbara are countable. Even though there are large populations of these birds in Florida they are not countable there,... yet.

Nutmeg Mannikin

Speaking of countable, there may be a few non-countable birds on my list of 520 species seen north of Mexico. I am using eBird to come up with the numbers. eBird lets you track non-countable birds (non-established exotics). I think the  Monk Parakeet and Mute Swan I saw in Oregon are not countable, and Chilean Flamingo, African Collared-Dove, and Nanday Parakeet in California from many years ago (probably countable if I saw it today, but not "bankable"). So, this is more like ABA species #515 for me. That's pretty good for never having birded SE Arizona, Texas, Florida, or Alaska.