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Re: [CALBIRDS] Yosemite Great Gray Owl - a new race

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  • Joseph Morlan
    All, Not to be a wet blanket, but acceptance of this claimed new subspecies is far from assured. The authors managed to claim a new subspecies without
    Message 1 of 6 , Oct 18, 2010
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      Not to be a wet blanket, but acceptance of this claimed new subspecies is
      far from assured. The authors managed to claim a new subspecies without
      designating a type specimen or specimens. This is required for any new

      Furthermore the description of the new subspecies and its diagnosis is
      based entirely on blood genetics. Differences in genetics, detectable only
      by blood samples are not the usual way of diagnosing subspecies. Valid
      subspecies must be diagnosable taxonomically which means that the
      differences must be visible in museum specimens via normal examination and
      or measurements.

      Those interested may be interested in checking out the ICZN site:


      However, it is not necessary for a subspecies to be valid, for any
      population to be considered endangered or threatened in law. All that is
      needed for that is for the population to be defined in law.

      On Thu, 14 Oct 2010 11:49:08 -0400, Lammergeiereyes@... wrote:

      >Confirmation in the literature of the species as a bonafide ssp., I suspect will eventually result in federal listing if FWS is petitioned. While it might not have a significant impact on Yosemite parklands management, it would have important consequences for national forestlands management including those outside the park which Dan describes below.
      >Sounds like a fun couple of days.
      >Blake T. Matheson
      >President, Monterey Audubon Society
      >"Men still live who, in their youth, remember Passenger Pigeons. Trees still live who, in their youth, were shaken by a living wind. But a decade hence only the oldest oaks will remember, and at long last only the hills will know." Leopold (1949).
      >-----Original Message-----
      >From: Geoffrey Rogers <oreortyx@...>
      >To: Dan Lockshaw <dan100@...>; CALBIRDS <CALBIRDS@yahoogroups.com>
      >Sent: Thu, Oct 14, 2010 8:38 am
      >Subject: RE: [CALBIRDS] Yosemite Great Gray Owl - a new race
      >Dan wrote: "Another great California bird, I believe, is headed for peril."
      >Indeed, it's already listed as state endangered. Subspecific designation
      >should generate additional protection.
      >Geoff Rogers
      >San Diego, CA
      >> [Original Message]
      >> From: Dan Lockshaw <dan100@...>
      >> To: CalBirds <CALBIRDS@yahoogroups.com>
      >> Date: 10/13/2010 11:07:35 PM
      >> Subject: [CALBIRDS] Yosemite Great Gray Owl - a new race
      >> This is a bit of a delayed posting but two of us from Optics4Birding made
      >a short visit to Yosemite National Park to look for owls on Sept. 27th and
      >28 th. Our main target species were Great Gray, Spotted and Northern Pygmy
      >Owls. The visit was very short, and with long delays in the park for
      >post-summer road construction, most of our time was spent looking for Great
      >Gray Owl.
      >> The September/October period is a particularly good time to find Northern
      >Pygmy Owls because of post fledging vocalizations. Only on one of the
      >mornings did we even get out to look for pygmy owls. I posted a photo on
      >the Optics4Birding blog.
      >> The Spotted Owl sighting provided our most surprising owl behavior. On
      >Wednesday night while driving along Hwy 120, we pulled up alongside a
      >Spotted Owl sitting atop a snow pole on the side of the road. The habitat
      >along both sides was generally correct but it was odd to find a Spotted Owl
      >actually hunting along the highway. I don't recall ever having seen this
      >behavior before from Spotted Owl although I do remember, several years ago,
      >seeing Spotted Owls very close to the highway on Mosquito Ridge Road in
      >Placer County.
      >> Great Gray Owl is one of the most sought after birds in the Sierra
      >Nevada. It is the rarest resident species in Yosemite National Park and
      >this is the only area to find one in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Recent
      >genetic analysis of Yosemite area Great Grays has shown them to be a unique
      >subspecies: Strix nebulosa yosemitensis, according to lead researchers John
      >J. Keane and Holly B. Ernest. There are only two other Great Gray Owl races
      >recognized in the world (the North American race and the Eurasian race).
      >For more details about this and photos, please see the Optics4Birding blog.
      >> We had very close encounters with Great Gray Owls on this trip. My
      >comments here are more about the places we didn't see Great Grays where I
      >expect to find them in the National Forest outside the park. It really
      >disturbs me to go look for Great Grays and instead find COWS! Livestock
      >grazing thins meadow vegetation which favors Great Horned Owls. Even worse
      >in my mind are cow bells! I asked land owners about why they put cow bells
      >on their livestock in fenced meadows and they claim it "helps them to find
      >the animals if they break through fences". I understand the needs of land
      >owners to make a living but in the case of such a small population of a
      >unique subspecies of bird, in a National Forest, I have to question these
      >management decisions. In an otherwise quiet night, it is really painful to
      >me to go into prime habitat of the National Forest valley ringing with cow
      >bells. No self respecting owl of any species could tolerate this kind of
      >noise and I suspect all of nature is negatively affected.
      >> Our trip into the Yosemite area was very brief. Road construction lights,
      >noise and cow bells drove our searches deeper into the forests. Although we
      >did find the owls we went to find, other bird seekers will continue to be
      >more challenged. The genetic analyses of our Sierra Nevada Great Gray Owls
      >shows they have not interbred with the North American nominate species for
      >an estimated 26,700 years. Another great California bird, I believe, is
      >headed for peril.
      >> Dan Lockshaw
      >> http://optics4birding.com
      >> Irvine, CA
      >> [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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      >[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      Joseph Morlan, Pacifica, CA jmorlan (at) ccsf.edu
      SF Birding Classes start Nov 2 http://fog.ccsf.edu/jmorlan/
      California Bird Records Committee http://www.californiabirds.org/
      Western Field Ornithologists http://www.westernfieldornithologists.org/
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