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FW: [CALBIRDS] CBRC adds Eastern Whip-poor-will to state list

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  • Kimball Garrett
    Birders, Bruce Webb mentioned to me that many who read Calbirds might not know the story of why it took 40.5 years for the Eastern Whip-poor-will on Point Loma
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 13, 2011

      Bruce Webb mentioned to me that many who read Calbirds might not know
      the story of why it took 40.5 years for the Eastern Whip-poor-will on
      Point Loma SD to be accepted by the CBRC. Acknowledging that sometimes
      the CBRC seems to work at glacial pace (though I actually think we move
      things pretty fast these days), it is probably worth recounting some of
      the history of this record and of whip-poor-wills in California. As
      always, the CBRC's book Rare Birds of California (edited by Robb
      Hamilton, Michael Patten and Dick Erickson) is the best single source of
      information on such matters, but there is more to tell.

      It was not long after California's first Whip-poor-will was found in
      1968 (a calling bird found by Lee Jones at Lake Fulmor in the San
      Jacinto Mtns.) that the species came to be found somewhat regularly in
      the mountains -- all vocalizing birds of what was then considered the
      subspecies arizonae. Therefore Whip-poor-will records were only
      reviewed by the CBRC for a brief period (1971-1972). Earlier records
      (the 1968 bird and the Pt. Loma bird) were not reviewed because the CBRC
      had not yet implemented its historical (pre-1971) records project. By
      the time the CBRC agreed to review pre-1971 records the Whip-poor-will
      was off the review list; and, in any case, the CBRC did not (and still
      does not) formally review records to the subspecies level.

      After publication of the Pt. Loma record in California Birds, John
      Hubbard and Dick Crossin published a note (Nemouria 14:1-41, 1974) which
      included a challenge to the identification of that bird as Eastern
      Whip-poor-will; they questioned a key character used by Jean Craig et
      al. (rictal bristle shape and color) and felt that other characters were
      equivocal. This is pretty much how it stood until 2010 when the AOU
      "split" the Whip-poor-will into two species, Eastern and Mexican. Since
      there was this published claim of Eastern Whip-poor-will, the CBRC was
      obligated to review the evidence. After two rounds of voting, the CBRC
      concluded that the characters published by Craig in the original
      California Birds note were indeed diagnostic and the bird, to the CBRC's
      satisfaction, was identifiable as an Eastern Whip-poor-will.

      The identification of silent whip-poor-wills (and nightjars in general)
      is extremely challenging. No vocalizing Eastern Whip-poor-will has been
      found in California, so the discovery and verification of future Eastern
      Whip-poor-wills in the state will probably come from a salvaged dead
      bird or collected specimen, a trapped/netted bird, or (less likely?) one
      giving diagnostic calls. A couple of other whip-poor-will sightings in
      CA (migrants or winter birds in the lowlands) are suspected to have been
      possible Easterns, but not verified as such.


      Kimball L. Garrett
      Ornithology Collections Manager
      Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
      900 Exposition Blvd.
      Los Angeles, CA 90007 USA
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