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4357RE: [CALBIRDS] Re: Nutmeg manakin

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  • Kimball Garrett
    Sep 9, 2005
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      Of the various "exotic" finches established or often seen in the wild in
      California, the Nutmeg Mannikin is perhaps the best established (after
      House Sparrow, of course). Since there have been a few postings about
      manikins in recent days, I thought I would mention that the California
      Bird Records Committee continues to be interested in monitoring the
      status of this species and other non-natives. The CBRC has acknowledged
      some naturalized species by adding them to the official California state
      list (with an "I" symbol for "introduced") -- relatively recent
      additions include Eurasian Collared-Dove, Red-crowned Parrot and
      White-tailed Ptarmigan. While there is no current groundswell to add
      Nutmeg Mannikin, Orange Bishop, various other parrots, Mute Swans, etc.,
      to the state list, it is possible that some of these (and other) species
      will eventually meet our criteria. The relevant by-law is:

      VI. Bird Records

      B. Records Treated.

      (8) The Committee will also review records of breeding populations of
      introduced species not on the state list, but only if evidence is
      submitted that attempts to prove (a) the correct identification of the
      species and (b) the viability of the population. To be judged viable, a
      population must: (i) have bred in the state for fifteen (15) consecutive
      years, (ii) in general, be increasing or stabilized after an initial
      period of increase, (iii) be judged to have occupied all geographically
      contiguous suitable habitat to such a degree as to sustain the
      population and be thought unlikely to significantly diminish, and (iv)
      occupy an environment judged similar enough in ecological factors (e.g.,
      climate, vegetation, food, shelter, competitors, predators) to the
      species' natural habitat, or to other successful introductions, that
      permanent establishment seems likely.

      The sticking point is usually item "(iii)", since populations of most
      naturalized species occupy just a few widely separated areas and likely
      result from independent establishment events.

      Since it is impractical for us to gather all sightings of birds like
      Nutmeg Mannikins, we ask that birders in California carefully record
      their sightings of such species in their field notes (and ideally also
      submit them to eBird, which now "accepts" sightings of these exotics) so
      that when the time comes to collate all available information it will be
      available. I would imagine that most, or all, Sub-regional (County)
      Coordinators for the Southern California and Northern California regions
      of North American Birds are willing to compile such information on a
      county basis, so you might keep them informed of your sightings of
      manikins and other naturalized or naturalizing species.

      Many thanks to Bill Bousman for pointing out Scott Smithson's excellent
      MS thesis on bishops and mannikins; Scott's field work was conducted in
      LA and ORA counties but clearly there are populations of both species
      (and especially of mannikins) elsewhere in the state.

      Finally, somebody inquired as to how Nutmeg Mannikins became established
      in California. Yes, their establishment has been entirely due to
      released or escaped birds from the avicultural trade. Sadly, you can
      buy Nutmeg Mannikins in almost any chain pet store (and they're not even
      very expensive), but it is, of course, illegal to release them.
      Incidentally, the subspecies established in California (at least in
      LA/ORA) is nominate punctulata or something similar, and as such they
      resemble the adult pictured in the NGS guide more closely than the
      brown-scalloped bird depicted by Sibley.


      Kimball L. Garrett

      Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County

      Los Angeles, CA


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