04 February 2013

What to count?

A friend and I were chatting about what's countable on your ABA list and what's not.  I realized that I might have been following some different rules all these years.

Later that day Michael Retter posted a similar question on the ABA Blog in response to a Winging It article (which I don't have).

Instead of clogging the ABA Blog comments section with my measly incoherent thoughts, I figured I would use my blog to try to put down into words what I've done about this issue in the past.

The main question I've been pondering is "When can I add a recently-established exotic on my ABA list?".

An example would be the Common Mynas that are now abundant in Florida.  I remember visiting the Miami area and seeing this species many years before it was officially on the ABA and Florida list.  I didn't count it then.  Years later it was accepted onto the ABA checklist as countable.  Ok, now what?  Should I have added Common Myna to my ABA list then?

My belief was "no".  I thought I needed to see them AFTER they became ABA countable in order to count them.

The story with the Nanday (Black-hooded) Parakeet is nearly the same for me.  I saw it ages ago in Florida (at a nest-hole, even) but since it wasn't on the ABA checklist, I didn't add it.  Now that it IS on the official checklist, should I add it now or wait until I see it again?  If my rules are in fact wrong, this would be a very important "armchair lifer".

The term "armchair lifer" is not new to me or to many birders.  I always thought I could gain a lifer if a species is SPLIT into additional species (and only if I had seen the aforementioned subspecies and took note of them).  An example of this would be the Solitary Vireo complex.  Since I had noted the "Plumbeous" subspecies before they were split, the resulting "armchair lifer" was obviously Plumbeous Vireo in addition to the Blue-headed Vireo (being an eastern boy, Cassin's Vireo came later for me).

In other words, I thought splits and exotics had different rules.  How wrong is this?