The California Bird Records Committee held its annual meeting at the Psomas offices in Pasadena 27-28 January 2017. Belatedly, here are some of the highlights of that meeting.
Jon Dunn, Rob Fowler, and Justyn Stahl were elected as voting members. Steve Rottenborn, Scott Terrill, and Tom Benson were re-elected as Chair, Vice Chair, and Secretary, respectively. The terms of Brian Daniels, John Garrett, and Jim Tietz expired.
Little Gull was removed from the Review List on the basis of the total number of accepted records (118 at the time of the meeting) and relatively straightforward identification. Magnificent Frigatebird was removed based on the number of recently accepted records
(75 since the species was added to the Review List in 2010), and Magnificent/Great/Lesser Frigatebird was also removed. No new species were added to the Review List , but one species group (Salvin’s/Chatham Albatross) was added .
The Committee discussed the following issues that may be of general interest to birders:
There was extensive discussion of offshore boundaries and the manner in which offshore records are logged by the CBRC, based on recent suggestions by several birders. The Committee did not make any major changes in approach; it will continue to report the locations
of offshore records based on “closest point of land” (including islands) without assigning the record to a particular county. Legal county boundaries exist in nearshore waters and certain bays, but for offshore records, the CBRC will continue to report only
the county in which the closest point of land lies.
The Committee established an “expedited review” process by which records of easily identifiable species that are well-supported by photo, video, and/or audio documentation supporting the claimed identification are evaluated more quickly than in the standard
review process. Integration of the CBRC records evaluation process with eBird was also discussed. Although the CBRC will continue to consider how the CBRC and eBird processes can assist each other, no specific decisions regarding changes in Committee procedures
were reached. Identification of subadult Masked and Nazca boobies, including the age at which characters allowing definitive identification may appear and how hybrids between the two species can be identified (or eliminated)
in the case of subadults, was discussed. The CBRC will reach out to experts on these species to gather more information for use in evaluating records of subadults. The Committee also discussed records of Plegadis ibis that appear to be Glossy Ibis except for
small amounts of pink, red, or purple that was not reported by the observers but that is visible in photos (sometimes limited to a few pixels at high magnification). The potential for such colors to result from some aspect of the photographic process, rather
than representing actual pigment, was discussed. Determining when (and whether) hybrids can be eliminated in the case of certain species pairs that are known to interbreed, such as Masked and Nazca booby and White-faced and Glossy ibis, will continue to be
Among the specific records that were discussed, two are worthy of some explanation here. The possible Red-backed x Turkestan Shrike at Manchester S.P., Mendocino County 5 Mar-22 Apr 2015 was previously evaluated as a Brown Shrike by the Committee and not accepted
as such. At its recent meeting, the Committee reiterated a previous decision not to formally review it as a Red-backed x Turkestan Shrike. The Committee felt that the 2015 paper by Pyle et al. (North American Birds 69:4-35) did an excellent job evaluating
the identity of the shrike and concluding that it was most likely a Red-backed x Turkestan hybrid, but that even that paper expressed some uncertainty in this conclusion. Committee members did not feel that the CBRC could bring a more definitive conclusion
to this identification. The Committee discussed whether to add Gray Thrasher to the Supplemental List based on the 2 August 2015 record from Famosa Slough, San Diego County. The Supplemental List is for species with records that have not been accepted on the
grounds of questionable natural occurrence, but for which a majority of members believe there is enough potential for natural occurrence for inclusion on the Supplemental List. In the case of the Famosa Slough bird, the condition of the bird’s feathering,
feet, and bill suggested prior captivity strongly enough that the Committee did not feel that the record warranted adding the species to the Supplemental List.
The CBRC discussed the possibility of forming a subcommittee to consider whether/how the CBRC might formally evaluate records of birds showing the characters of well-marked subspecies that meet the Committee’s general criteria for review species. The Committee
will reach out to individuals (including non-Committee members) who might be interested in serving on the subcommittee and explore this idea further.
The Introduced Birds Subcommittee (IBSC), consisting of Kimball Garrett, Jim Tietz, John Garrett, and Tom Benson, will continue to monitor whether any introduced species warrant addition to the State List. In the case of introduced species that have been added
to the state list in other states (e.g., Florida), the IBSC will look into the species’ relative abundance and distribution in California vs. other states where the species have been added. The IBSC will also consider preparing a list of all introduced species
that have been recorded in California, perhaps ranking them according to some as-yet-undetermined status designations.
Please feel free to visit the CBRC’s webpage at
http://www.californiabirds.org/ for updates and additional information. If you have any questions about the CBRC, please contact Steve Rottenborn ( chair@... )
or Tom Benson ( secretary@... ). Finally, I will continue to serve as the occasional CBRC “spokesperson” on Calbirds for the coming year. I’m not currently on the CBRC, so just the messenger… Kimball L. Garrett Ornithology Collections Manager Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County 900 Exposition Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90007 USA (213) 763-3368 kgarrett@... http://www.nhm.org/site/research-collections/ornithology