2012 TBRC Annual Meeting
The 2012 annual meeting of the Texas Bird Records Committee (hereafter committee or TBRC) was held at 11:00 AM on 22 September 2012 at the Texas Collective Wildlife Collection in College Station, Texas. Keith Arnold served as host. Seven members were present in person; the other two members attended via conference call. In attendance were:
- Randy Pinkston, Chair
- Eric Carpenter, Secretary
- Keith Arnold, Academician
- Jim Paton (via conference call)
- Byron Stone
- Tim Fennell
- Mary Gustafson (via conference call)
- Martin Reid
- Ron Weeks
The meeting was convened at 11:04 AM.
General Review of Bylaws
As per the TBRC Bylaws that requires an every two year review of the Bylaws, the committee reviewed the Bylaws along with some proposed edits:
- (Reid) Section III.C.1.c - more precise language.
- (Carpenter) Section III.E.3.a - typo.
- (Carpenter) Section VI.E1.e and VI.E.2 - brought section up to date with procedures.
- (Carpenter) Section VI.E.4.b - more precise language and (Reid) typo.
- (Carpenter) Section VI.F.1 and VI.F.4 - sexist language.
- (Stone) Section VI.F.12 - synchronize wording used on rejected records in accordance with wording used in Voting categories in VI.F.2.
The proposed changes were brought to a vote and unanimously accepted (9-0).
Secretary allowed to be non-Voting Member, adjustments to Bylaws
Carpenter proposed that the Secretary position by changed so that the Secretary would not necessarily need to be a Voting Member. Discussion revolved around the reduction in work for the Secretary if he/she didn’t have to vote and also where it may be beneficial for the Secretary in dealing with Voting Members on some records if the Secretary was not a Voting Member. There is also the potential that the Secretary candidate pool might increase if voting weren’t a requirement. The number of Voting Members would remain at 9 regardless. In cases where the Secretary is not a Voting Member, there would need to be 7 Members plus the Chairman and the Academician. When the Secretary is a Voting Member, there would be 6 Members plus the Chairman and the Academician.
Carpenter proposed Bylaw changes to this effect with changes in the following sections: III.A, III.D, III.G and VI.E.1.D. The changes were brought to a vote and unanimously accepted.
Election of Members
Carpenter was only nominee for the Secretary position and was unanimously re-elected. Arnold was the only nominee for the Academician and was also unanimously re-elected. Gustafson and Fennell had their first-term come to an end and they were unanimously re-elected for another term. Weeks’ second term expired at the end of the annual meeting and Carpenter resigned his Voting Member role (remaining as the non-voting Secretary) effective at the end of the annual meeting which left 2 Voting Member positions open. There were 4 nominees: Greg Cook, Mark Lockwood, Chris Runk, and Willie Sekula. Voting was done by the nine committee members in attendance and the 2 new elected members were Greg Cook and Mark Lockwood.
Effective at the end of the Annual Meeting, current membership and term of service are as follows:
- Randy Pinkston, Chair - term expires in 2013; can be re-elected
- Eric Carpenter, Secretary (not Voting Member) - term expires in 2013; can be re-elected
- Keith Arnold, Academician - term is as listed for Secretary; can be re-elected
- Greg Cook - 1st term expires in 2015, can be re-elected
- Mark Lockwood - 1st term expires in 2015, can be re-elected
- Jim Paton - 1st term expires in 2013, can be re-elected
- Byron Stone - 1st term expires in 2013, can be re-elected
- Tim Fennell - 2nd term expires in 2015
- Mary Gustafson - 2nd term expires in 2015
- Martin Reid - 2nd term expires in 2014
The sequence of members for voting tallies became:
Fourth Round Records
There were 2 fourth round records that were discussed and voted on:
2011-59 Arctic Tern
26 May 2011, Rollover Pass, Galveston Co.
2011-63 Black-whiskered Vireo
16 May 2011, Paradise Pond, Port Aransas, Nueces Co.
Little Gull removed from the list of Review Species
Carpenter proposed that Little Gull be removed from the Review List. Discussions covered the continued annual winter presence in not only ne. Texas but the recent increase in sightings in other areas of the state. Members were in agreement and this was brought to a vote where it was unanimously (9-0) decided to remove Little Gull from the list of Review Species.
Discussion to remove Black-legged Kittiwake from the list of Review Species
Carpenter proposed that Black-legged Kittiwake be removed from the Review List. Discussions revolved around the annual occurrence in the state though most members did not feel its frequency was enough to warrant removal from the list. The proposal was not brought to a vote.
Addition of “Russet-backed” Swainson’s Thrush and “Slate-colored” Fox Sparrow to Review List B
Reid proposed that “Russet-backed” Swainson’s Thrush be added to the species list covered under Review List B. The “Russet-backed” group is defined in Pyle (1997). Documentation of this group’s occurrence in the state is rather minimal though a recent record from El Paso had been reviewed and accepted (TBRC 2011-56).
Paton proposed that “Slate-colored” Fox Sparrow also be added to Review List B. The Western Slate-colored group is defined in Pyle (1997). Individuals of this group have not been previously documented in the state though at the time of the meeting there was a candidate bird in El Paso.
The nine committee members voted unanimously (9-0) to add both to Review List B.
TOS Bulletin article on American Black Duck occurrence in Texas
An article prepared by Texas Parks & Wildlife (William B. Johnson) and the US Fish & Wildlife Services (Pamela R. Garrettson) appeared in the December 2010 TOS Bulletin which covered the occurrence of American Black Duck in Texas. Presented in the article is both band recovery evidence as well as harvested wings submitted as part of the “Wing Bee” program for several dozen occurrence of American Black Duck in Texas since 1914 (since 1970 for the Wing Bees). The TBRC only recognizes 8 documented records of this species and 2 of the committee members (Reid, Gustafson) had followed up with the authors to see if any additional information could be gleaned to see if there were potential TBRC submission/record candidates in the evidence. Unfortunately there is no physical evidence at this time that has been preserved so there aren’t current submissions to consider. Gustafson indicated that she would continue to try to work with the groups to see if, going forward, physical evidence could be preserved and relayed to the TBRC. There is the potential for both the Wing Bees and the band recovery programs to be the source of documented records in the future.
Carpenter will see to it that the TBRC issues a public statement summarizing the committee’s position on this article as it relates to documented records.
Beason geolocator study on Black Swift
A study published in early 2012 showed that at least 3 Black Swifts outfitted with geolocators passed through Texas as they migrated from South America to Colorado (Beason et al, 2012). Since Black Swift is currently on the TBRC’s Presumptive List and there aren’t any records that have been adequately documented with physical evidence, the discussion about this study revolved around both the accuracy of geolocators and also what constitutes physical evidence of the species’ presence. Reid shared some additional details he had received from the researchers. The summary of the discussion was that there is room for error/accuracy issues when using geolocators and there still wasn’t any/enough physical evidence for a TBRC record submission to be made. It was widely believed by members that Black Swifts undoubtedly migrate over Texas and this study reinforced that notion but fell short of the documentation requirements of the TBRC.
Carpenter will see to it that the TBRC issues a public statement summarizing committee’s position on this article as it relates to documented records.
Short-tailed Shearwater specimens from the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean
The TBRC Master List of Review Species has the following note regarding Sooty/Short-tailed Shearwaters:
"Sight or photo records of Sooty or Short-tailed Shearwaters are difficult to positively identify. The TBRC has voted to label all such records as Sooty Shearwater until a record of Short-tailed Shearwater is documented in the Gulf of Mexico or Atlantic Ocean."
This note was added based on a vote at the 1993 Annual Meeting and since that time there has been a documented specimen of Short-tailed Shearwater from the Gulf side of Florida in 1998 (Kratter, 2000) and also a specimen record from Brazil in May 2005 (Souto et al. 2008).
Discussion revolved around the fact that Short-tailed Shearwater, even with the two documented records, is still an exceedingly low possibility in Texas waters, especially with the almost regular appearance of Sooties in the Gulf. Members unanimously (9-0) agreed to change the wording to:
"Sight or photo records of Sooty or Short-tailed Shearwaters are difficult to positively identify. The TBRC has voted to label all such records as Sooty Shearwater and acknowledges that Short-tailed Shearwaters are a remote possibility based on one Gulf of Mexico record and one from the south Atlantic”.
In addition, the TBRC will revisit previous records and add notations so as to distinguish those records that were conclusively identified as Sooties. The same notations will be applied to future records.
Pacific Wren status in Texas
At the 2010 Annual Meeting, the committee discussed the lack of Pacific Wren records in Texas; the status hasn’t changed in the interim. Carpenter mentioned that Oberholser’s Bird Life of Texas (BLOT) lists a specimen of the “salebrosus” subspecies, which is considered Pacific Wren. The committee discussed that based on current knowledge of the Winter/Pacific Wren pair, there aren’t any morphological differences to distinguish the two. Arnold indicated he would find the BLOT manuscript which should help track down where the specimen is held and work with Gustafson to perhaps locate it. Still, it is not thought that the specimen can be conclusively shown to be that subspecies.
Carpenter will see to it that the TBRC issues a public statement requesting documentation, namely recordings, on any potential Pacific Wren that is found in Texas.
Definition for “Natural Occurrence questionable”
In light of some recent (Double-toothed Kite) and future (Tropical Mockingbird) records, Carpenter asked if the TBRC needed to arrive at a common definition for “Natural Occurrence questionable” as used in assessing a potential record. Carpenter indicated that the Louisiana BRC seemed to have the most language around this topic and that most BRCs either had no mention or, as in the case of the ABA Checklist Committee, explicitly mention it as being up to each member’s discretion. Reid brought up some suggestions of adding wording to provide a list of circumstances that are NOT considered human-assisted. In the end, the committee decided that no action was needed and that Section IV.F.7 in the Bylaws was sufficient:
Voting Criteria.The criteria used by a Voting Member for acceptance or rejection of a record are an individual matter and should not be treated by these Bylaws.
Determining (re)establishment of exotics and introduced species
Gustafson and Carpenter had previously discussed what the requirements might be for documenting the successful re-introduction of a species (Aplomado Falcon) to the state. Carpenter had mentioned that the process should be similar to what the ABA outlines as its policy on adding exotic species to the ABA list as covered at:
At the Annual Meeting in 2009, the members had agreed to create a similar page on the TBRC website but that has not happened to date. The committee decided that they needed to complete this effort and to include the necessary verbiage to not only cover exotics but also (re)introduced species. Carpenter will make sure that this is completed.
Texas Bird Images website
Reid brought everyone’s attention to the Texas Bird Images (TBI) website:
This is a project started by TOS member Jim Peterson to provide a repository for photos of regional/seasonal rarities including species that are not necessarily TBRC Review List species. The TOS board sanctioned the TBI website as a TOS project, though outside Reid’s informal involvement with Jim the TBRC has not been involved with it to date. Reid proposed that the TBRC should also recognize/sanction the TBI as a special TBRC project and Reid would serve as the liaison between TBRC members and the TBI. Committee members unanimously agreed to this.
Northern Shrike status in Texas
At the 2011 Annual Meeting, a discussion on Northern Shrike occurrence in Texas and possible placement on the Review List was put off pending more investigation by the TBRC in gathering documentation on reports of this species in the state. Carpenter reported that he had made little progress on this and it remains an item to follow up on for next year.
Potential splits to Cory’s Shearwater and Band-rumped Storm-Petrel
The British Ornithologists’ Union (BOU) had recently announced the split of Cory’s Shearwater into 3 species, including two that likely occur in Texas: Cory’s Shearwater (C.d. borealis) and Scopoli’s Shearwater (C.d. diomedia). The BOU has also split Band-rumped Storm-Petrel into three species, though it is unknown which of these may occur in Texas waters. Reid asserted that it would be important for the TBRC to track records of both of these groups to not only help determine occurrence of these in the Gulf but to try to document them for the record should the AOU ever decide to follow suit in splitting them. All the members agreed and decided that the best avenue of pursuit at the current time would be for the TBRC to make a public request of Texas birders for photos past and future of both species groups. Carpenter will make sure the public request is issued.
Sabine Woods Golden-fronted Woodpecker
Reid brought to everyone’s attention the continuing presence of an unusually plumaged and out of range Golden-fronted Woodpecker (putative identification) at Sabine Woods. Weeks indicated that there might also be a hybrid present, and perhaps successful nesting occurred this summer as well. There has been speculation that the unusual Golden-fronted Woodpecker might be from a distant population in Mexico and thus its occurrence at about the same time as the Tropical Mockingbird (TBRC 2012-36, not yet in circulation) might reveal something about that record. The committee agreed that this particular bird was noteworthy and Carpenter stated that he would create a record for it, and seek out details about its presence for committee review.
Expert reviews of TBRC records
Carpenter described the sometimes difficult task of getting outside/expert review in a timely manner on TBRC records prior to voting on these records. He felt that now that his Secretary role is a non-voting position, he has a little more leeway to discuss some of these records with the voting members in advance of the record circulation to make sure that open questions and concerns on the record material are addressed.
Offshore waters and county definitions
Reid indicated that the TBRC has no official policy/stance on county boundaries for records from offshore/pelagic waters, though each TBRC record is associated with a county. Since there is no true county definition that applies to all offshore waters, the designation of a county is arbitrary. With the increase in county listing, this topic has also been brought up by Texas birders. The committee discussed different options and decided that the definition used by the California BRC was appropriate for TBRC purposes as well - county designations of offshore records are used only as reference to indicate the nearest point of land. This will be noted in the Master List and will be the definition for “offshore counties” for records going forward.
Keith Arnold - Recognition of 40 years of serving on the TBRC
2012 marked 40 years of existence of the TBRC. Dr. Arnold not only founded the TBRC forty years ago, but he has been a volunteer member in one capacity or another for that entire time. On behalf of the TOS and the TBRC, Pinkston presented Arnold a plaque commemorating his dedication for the past 40 years. TOS has also commissioned renowned ornithologist and artist John O’Neill who will present a Dr. Arnold with an original painting at a later date.
With no other formal business on the agenda, the meeting was adjourned at 2:50 PM.
Secretary, Texas Bird Records Committee