Thursday, April 26, 2007

Question: How many species (if any) are on the ABA-area list and have only been seen or heard by *one* birder?

So this Barred Antshrike record has gotten us thinking. Yes, dangerous, we know.

Assuming the record is accepted by the ABA, then Martin Hagne is the only birder (well, his wife heard it, too, but we'll assume she is not a birder) who will have this species on their list for the ABA area.

Are there any other species that have only occurred once in the ABA area, have been accepted by the relevant state records committee and eventually added to the list by the ABA, but have only been seen by one person, by the initial observer? Since "firsts" these days usually require hard documentation (ie photo, sound recording, or specimen), you'd have to see the bird, record it, and then no one else would ever see that individual bird (or any other bird of the same species) after the original sighting.

Any takers?

What about in the U.K.?


Bill Pulliam said...

I want to know if there is any other species for the ABA area that has never been SEEN in the area by any birder at all.

Anonymous said...

There are a couple of weird records that I know of. The first ABA record for Mottled Owl (1983) was a road killed bird in Texas that was photographed and was unidentified until an expert later determined that it was a Mottled Owl. *No observer on that one.*

The first record for Stygian Owl came from Bensten in 1994 and was photographed and misidentified as a melanistic Long-eared Owl. The photo sat in a drawer for two years. A second Stygian was seen and photographed also at at Bensten and the fellow who misidentified the first bird realized what he had and claimed the first NA record. *One observer on that one*

A fellow in Az in 2005 took of photo of a strange little bird and showed the photo to a Park Ranger who knew his south of the border birds. This was the first ABA record of Tufted Flycatcher. One observer.

In 2003 Brian Patteson photographed a Band-rumped Storm Petrel. After examining the photo he noticed a strange bird in the background and it was later determined to be the first NA record for European Storm Petrel. Again. * No observer saw this one *

So I guess there is precedence for this sort of record.

Bill Pulliam said...

Still looks like this might be the first "heard only" for the ABA area? I wonder how many "heard onlies" there are for official State and Province lists, even.

"Found dead only" used to be more frequent for seabirds on State lists before the days of pelagic trips; heck I'm not even an old fart (yet) but I was on the trip that recorded Georgia's first ever living Bridled Terns, a bird which has long since proved to be common offshore.

Anonymous said...

Um, the 2005 Arizona bird was not the first ABA Tufted Flycatcher. The first was in Big Bend National Park in Texas in 1991-1992. (Alderfer, 2005. The Complete Birds of North America). The first ABA European Storm Petrel was in 1970 in Nova Scotia. (Alderfer 2005). The 2003 European Storm-Petrel sighting was not accepted by the North Carolina records committee in their 2003 report (I'm not sure how this will display in your browser: chat/issues/2004/v68n1nc_brc_2003.pd; I have Safari).

Anonymous said...

The Texas records committee has records of White-chinned Petrel and Stejneger's Petrel, both from dead birds found in the state. See

The former was identified from photographs after the specimen had been discarded. The ABA did not accept this record (it's not in Alderfer 2005); it is (or was at the time) the first North American and Northern Hemisphere record. The latter record is not mentioned in that book either. Since the birds were not seen alive, one can't be positive the birds were alive when they reached Texas.