Thursday, March 16, 2006

Pearls of Wisdom from the Pearl IBWO Spotter

Note to all Virginia birders reading this blog: If you don't have MacGillivray's Warbler on your VA state list yet, you must be an idiot, because one of the country's best birders has determined that about 80 of them show up in your state every year:

Mike Collins
Tue, 22 Sep 1998 19:14:30 -0400
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Greg's and Tyler's posts have struck a nerve. So let me put
out a "soapbox message" of my own.

It's important to be skeptical about rare bird reports, but
there are times when arrogance comes into play. I've had a
few experiences of the skeptical kind lately regarding my
reports from Wakefield Park. I don't mind skepticism because
it's an important part of the process of verifying reports
as much as possible. I actually expected it because I couldn't
believe some of the birds that kept showing up. I had hoped
that the skeptics would go silent after other birders who
were attracted to Wakefield Park by my reports saw Sedge Wren
and Connecticut, Mourning, and Brewster's Warblers. But then I
saw a MacGillivray's Warbler on Saturday. Having recently
experienced skepticism, I was extremely reluctant to report
this bird. But I did and my report to the hotline was completely
ignored. You'd think it would have at least warranted a few

How many other reports of MacGillivray's Warblers in this area
have been squelched? I'll bet a fair number of them find their
way to the east coast every year. Good numbers of Mourning and
Connecticut Warblers stray far to the west of their ranges.
About 80 of them have been observed at just one site in California.
Why wouldn't one expect similar numbers of MacGillivray's Warblers
in the east? And if one were to show up, wouldn't Wakefield
Park--which has had 9 Mourning Warblers and 5 Connecticut Warblers
this year--be a reasonable place?

To end on a positive note, I'd like to add that it's been a lot
of fun meeting those of you who have stopped by to check out
Wakefield Park. Hopefully we'll get another front and more good
birds in the next few days.

Mike Collins
Annandale, Virginia
Let's be serious for a minute. To be totally honest, the number of MacGillivray's Warblers (or Connecticut Warblers or Mourning Warblers) Mike Collins has seen in Virginia has absolutely nothing to do with whether he has seen an Ivory-billed Woodpecker. And, frankly, I wouldn't have posted anything about his original sightings if I didn't think they were at least somewhat credible. OK, so you might be wondering, why, all of a sudden, am I giving this guy such a hard time?
Well, it's because Mike has made the same mistake Cornell did in Arkansas -- overselling. When you oversell, you have to do silly, childish things, like tell everyone you went to MIT, or threaten to dig up dirt on anyone who doesn't believe your sightings. Shades of Mr. Guppy if you ask me. Remember how *before* Mr. Guppy "revealed" that he had seen an IBWO, he cried about how he couldn't handle the criticism he would face if he claimed he did see one??? Well, if you can't stand the heat, get out of the freakin' kitchen.
At this point, I really don't care if Mike Collins has seen an IBWO. If you go around telling everyone how smart you are, how well you can add 2 + 4, how great of a birder you are, and how stupid the entire birding community in Louisiana is, then you better damn well be prepared to back it up.


Anonymous said...

Birding may not be a crime but it would seem that questioning this Mike Collins guy about his sightings most certainly is!

Anonymous said... we are clearly discussing blarney here I thought
this link might provide an interesting diversion.
Meet the real Michael Collins.

Birding is NOT a crime!!!! said...

Ha, good one Mike, but that guy wasn't even a birder!!!

Anonymous said...

Well Ken, then now we are even.

Apparently your Mike Collins isn't one either.