2013 TBRC Annual Meeting
The 2013 annual meeting of the Texas Bird Records Committee (hereafter committee or TBRC) was held at 11:00 AM on 17 August 2013 at the Biodiversity Researching and Teaching Collections in College Station, Texas. Keith Arnold served as host. Eight 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
- Greg Cook
- Mark Lockwood
- Jim Paton (via conference call)
- Byron Stone
- Tim Fennell (via conference call)
- Mary Gustafson
- Martin Reid
The meeting was convened at 11:20 AM.
Election of Members
Carpenter, Arnold and Pinkston were the only nominees respectively for the Secretary, Academician and Chairman positions. Paton and Stone had their first-term come to an end and were the only nominees for the open positions. Lockwood moved that everyone be re-elected by acclamation. This was seconded by Reid and voting was unanimous in favor.
Effective at the end of the Annual Meeting, current membership and term of service are as follows:
- Randy Pinkston, Chair - term expires in 2015; can be re-elected
- Eric Carpenter, Secretary (not a Voting Member) - term expires in 2014; 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 - 2nd term expires in 2016
- Byron Stone - 2nd term expires in 2016
- 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 remains:
Change in Bylaws - Statute miles becomes Nautical miles
Carpenter proposed that Section 2.1 of the Bylaws be amended to use 200 nautical miles instead of 200 statute miles where stating the limits/boundaries of the adjacent ocean (Gulf of Mexico) that are considered to be Texas waters. Both the ABA and other state record committees (including neighboring Louisiana) use nautical miles. Reid moved for the change to be made. This was seconded by Pinkston and everyone unanimously agreed in favor. The revised section of the bylaw now reads:
- Validate records of birds from the state of Texas and adjacent ocean. "Adjacent ocean" is herein defined as that area within 200 nautical miles of the nearest point of land and within a boundary created by a line from the mouth of the Sabine River (29° 41'N 93° 50'W) to the Economic Exclusion Zone (EEZ) boundary at 26°N 93°W. The southern boundary follows the EEZ from the mouth of the Rio Grande eastward to 26°N 93°W.
Fourth Round Records
There were 2 fourth round records that were discussed and voted on:
2012-58 Connecticut Warbler
7 Sep 2012, High Island, Galveston Co.
2012-65 Pinyon Jay (7)
17 Oct 2012, Terlingua, Brewster Co.
Northern Shrike status
Following up from a discussion started at the 2011 Annual Meeting, Carpenter summarized the occurrence of Northern Shrike in the state during the fall/winter of 2012-2013. At least 10 individual shrikes were reliably seen (most photographed; several present for some time and seen by numerous observers) during the winter. Most of these were in “usual” areas in the upper Panhandle but there were also extralimital sightings as far south as Shackleford/Throckmorton County and Reeves County. It was certainly a better-than-average winter for Northern Shrikes though certainly not unprecedented. It was clear that this species does not meet the threshold/requirements to be placed on the Review List and there was no motion to do so. However, it is a species to watch as there is the possibility of it withdrawing to the north of the state due to climate change. Committee members who are also eBird reviewers for Texas (Carpenter, Gustafson, Stone) will work with other eBird reviewers in the state to seek documentation on all reporting sightings in the future.
Status of Greater Prairie-Chicken
The committee discussed the current status of Greater Prairie-Chicken in the state. It was agreed that outside the birds that are part of the reintroduction programs going on at Attwater Prairie Chicken N.W.R. and The Nature Conservancy’s Texas City Prairie Preserve, there are no other populations. Reid pointed out that the TBRC is seen as the keeper of the official state list and it would be good to reflect the status of this species on the state list in this way. The state list currently has classifications including “(I) introduced” and “(u) uncertain origin” but has no such category that would seem to apply in this case. The committee agreed to come up with a new classification that is essentially “(RI) Reintroduction in progress, not established” and to use this classification for the status of Greater Prairie-Chicken going forward. Lockwood also agreed to touch base with some of the organizations that are working on the Greater Prairie-Chicken programs at the two sites in Texas to get a better assessment of how the re-introduction is progressing.
Status of Aplomado Falcon
A similar discussion was had concerning the status of Aplomado Falcons in the state. Gustafson reported on current release/reintroduction efforts in Texas as well as the current status of the species in Chihuahua, Mexico. Efforts to reintroduce the falcons in west Texas have ceased while new birds are again being released in south Texas. Numbers out of Chihuahua indicate that the species is not doing particularly well there and there is no substantial evidence that the birds in south Texas are thriving. The committee concluded that the status of the Aplomado Falcon in the state was similar to that of the Greater Prairie-Chicken and agreed to use the new “(RI) Reintroduction in progress, not established” classification to describe the falcon’s status on the State List.
Sharp-tailed Grouse historical occurrence in Texas
Sharp-tailed Grouse is not on the Texas State List. Reid asked for the historical references that indicate that it did occur in the state, especially vis-a-vis other species that are sparsely documented, most specifically Carolina Parakeet, which are on the state list. Oberholser’s The Bird Life of Texas, which is the only reference for Sharp-tailed Grouse in Texas, mentioned in the Species Account for Sharp-tailed Grouse that it as “Hypothetical”, all based on reports from a “Mrs. R.L. Duke”, and is said to have disappeared from Texas in 1906. Carolina Parakeet on the other hand, has multiple reports compiled by Stan Casto and certainly doesn’t suffer from the identification issues that the grouse reports may have had. There was no action for the committee as a result of this discussion.
Content on TBRC Website
Reid indicated he has added photo evidence to the website for all the Review Species over the past couple of years. He opened the discussion to see if there were other areas where the committee could place additional content on the website, to help TOS members and other interested parties better understand about various species of interest and their status in the state. As examples, some of the items discussed during the meeting, such as the status of the Aplomado Falcon and Greater Prairie Chicken, would benefit from having information online, available to folks who are interested. There are certainly other species where further details as to status or the TBRC’s position, such as Red-crowned Parrots and Green Parakeets, is worthy of mention. The committee agreed that having more information online would certainly make the TBRC website more relevant and it would be beneficial to continually enhance content. It was also agreed that any added content would be consistent with the specific detail that is published in the TOS Handbook. Reid and various members will work together to come up with specific content and publish it on the website.
Origin of Texas Rufous-backed Robin records
Reid asked if the committee should consider classifying Rufous-backed Robin’s status in Texas as “(u) uncertain”. Both Reid and Gustafson have previously provided the committee with correspondence they’ve had with birders in Mexico who mention potential “feral” populations of Rufous-backed Robins that are perhaps the results of escaped cage birds able to maintain small populations in the wild. These populations are closer to Texas than the original/historical populations of Rufous-backed Robins on the Pacific slope of western Mexico and are potentially the source of Rufous-backed Robins in Texas. The committee felt that the data gathered here was very much of interest but wasn’t compelling enough to consider changing the species’ status to “(u) uncertain”. Still, the committee agreed that providing some of this detail & background on the TBRC website would be of service to TOS members and Texas birders in general. Reid will work with other members to add details to the TBRC website in this regard.
Black-headed Siskin record
A Black-headed Siskin was photographed on South Padre Island, Cameron County on 4 Mar 2009. The details were submitted to the TBRC as TBRC 2009-20 and the record was rejected due to concern about origin/provenance of the bird. Reid is curious about the details of the record and asked if it might be a candidate record to re-review. The discussion revolved around the fact that the species is somewhat regular in the bird trade in Mexico, but is also one that is present close to the Texas border and is known to wander to the lowlands during the non-breeding season. The committee decided that there was not currently enough new information to re-circulate the record. Lockwood/Arnold will locate the details of the record and make them available to Reid for further study.
eBird and TBRC Accepted Records
Carpenter informed the committee that he has created a TBRC account in eBird and Reid has entered a few accepted records under that account where the “official” record for those sightings can be entered. Carpenter, Reid and other members who are interested may certainly use this account to enter accepted records, either historical or current. To get certain records entered may require retrieval of the original submissions in order to use the correct locations. Carpenter will look at eBird data to see if species with 5 or fewer accepted records in the state are accurately represented in eBird.
Last Seen Date for Accepted Records
There has been some concern (Reid) that the last date seen for Accepted Records should reflect the last date for which documentation was received by the TBRC. Carpenter explained that more accurate last-dates in many cases can be found by perusing different forums (eBird, Texbirds, local observers) than depending on an observer who saw a particular bird on the last date it was present to provide documentation to the committee. Carpenter has already been adding explicit documentation to records that indicate what the source of the last-date was for records where there is no explicit documentation submitted to support that date.
Reid has been filling the role as TBRC webmaster for several years and is happy to continue doing so. The layout and design have been at the status-quo for many years because Reid lacks the software and related skills to improve it significantly. As a result the site is rather antiquated. Carpenter indicated that he would reach out to other folks to see if there are other qualified and able persons out there who might be interested in assuming the responsibilities of enhancing the TBRC website.
Follow-up on 2012 Annual Meeting action items
Reid asked that the committee review their commitments from the 2012 Annual Meeting and make sure that the appropriate action items are followed-up on. Several of these deal with public statements that may have been made already. It was agreed that a better place for these public statements was as permanent web pages on the TBRC website.
With no other formal business on the agenda and no Any Other Business items raised, the meeting was adjourned at 1:21 PM.
Secretary, Texas Bird Records Committee