2016 TBRC Annual Meeting
The 2016 annual meeting of the Texas Bird Records Committee (hereafter committee or TBRC) was held at 11:00 AM on 6 August 2016 at the Biodiversity Research and Teaching Collections in College Station, Texas. Keith Arnold served as host. Six members were present in person; four members attended via conference call. In attendance were:
● Randy Pinkston, Chair (via conference call)
● Eric Carpenter, Secretary
● Keith Arnold, Academician
● Dan Jones
● Stephan Lorenz (via conference call)
● Greg Cook
● Mark Lockwood (via conference call)
● Jim Paton (via conference call)
● Byron Stone
● Petra Hockey
The meeting was convened at 11:14 AM. Paton joined the meeting late but was able to participate in most of the discussions.
Election of Members
Carpenter and Arnold were the only nominees respectively for the Secretary and Academician positions. Stone moved that they be re-elected by acclamation. This was seconded by Pinkston and voting was unanimous in favor.
Both Paton’s and Stone’s 2nd term expired at the Annual Meeting. Nominations for the open position were Tony Frank (nominated by Hockey), Richard Gibbons (nominated by Hockey), Chris Runk (nominated by Stone) and Ron Weeks (nominated by Lockwood). Discussions were had about each of the candidates and then the members voted. Tony Frank and Chris Runk received the most votes and were elected to fill the open positions.
Effective at the end of the Annual Meeting, current membership and term of service are as follows:
● Randy Pinkston, Chair - term expires in 2017; can be re-elected
● Eric Carpenter, Secretary (not a Voting Member) - term expires in 2017; can be re-elected
● Keith Arnold, Academician - term is as listed for Secretary; can be re-elected
● Tony Frank – 1st term expires in 2019, can be re-elected
● Chris Runk – 1st term expires in 2019, can be re-elected
● Dan Jones – 1st term expires in 2018, can be re-elected
● Stephan Lorenz – 1st term expired in 2018, can be re-elected
● Petra Hockey – 1st term expires in 2017, can be re-elected
● Greg Cook – 2nd term expires in 2018
● Mark Lockwood – 2nd term expires in 2018
The sequence (used primarily for order for oral/4th round records) of members for voting becomes:
Fourth Round Records
There was 1 fourth round record that was discussed and voted on:
2015-04 – Striped Sparrow
11 Jan – 7 Apr 2015, east of Granger Lake, Williamson Co.
Votes: 6 (Accept) - 3 (Not Accept) [Note: 8 Accept votes required to Accept record]
Result: Not Accepted (identification not in doubt; natural occurrence questionable).
A public statement on this record/result was created along with these Minutes.
Review Species – possible candidates for removal from the Review List
Hockey started a discussion on Leach’s Storm-Petrel. This species is on the Review List and has not shown an Increasing Abundance but does fit the By-law criteria for removal as an Under-reported Species. The number of birding hours/trips into Leach’s Storm-Petrel habitat (deepwater off the continental shelf) each year will always be small but there has been a pattern where this species is reported (and records submitted to the TBRC) on, over the long-term, over one-third of the organized pelagic trips to deepwater. Other members (Carpenter, Pinkston) who are on many of these pelagic trips agreed with this. However, both Hockey and Pinkston also pointed out the problem of identification issues with storm-petrels in general, with Leach’s specifically as well as the recent split of Leach’s Storm-Petrel into multiple species. There is still a lot to learn about storm-petrels in the Gulf. To end the discussion, all members agreed that it would be good to keep Leach’s Storm-Petrel as a Review Species for the time being.
Brown Booby is also on the Review List currently and both Paton and Hockey had requested that we discuss possible removal. Unlike Leach’s Storm-Petrel, there has a been a dramatic Increasing Abundance since July 2012. Since that time, there have been at least 23 accepted records and there are almost that many still in the queue to be voted on. Several of these records involve multiple birds (with at least one report of 9 birds) and a few of them are birds found well inland (with the most recent being 2 birds in Tarrant County). Identification is hardly an issue except perhaps for records without photos (or with poor photos) of immature birds that might be confused with Red-footed Booby. Perhaps the strongest point brought up about keeping the species on the review list was that this invasion/irruption of birds, particularly those so far inland, is perhaps a temporary change and not necessarily all good news for the species. The increase of birds found offshore and along the coast may be indicative of expansion of this species from the south but the continued appearance of this seabird well inland is perhaps a sign that all is not well. Committee members also discussed the value of eBird. If the species were removed from the Review List and later needed to be placed back on, we would perhaps have the records not reviewed by TBRC during this period available to consider via eBird so this data would not be “lost”. At the end of the discussion, the committee voted on the removal of this species from the Review List and it was not unanimously approved. Thus, Brown Booby will remain on the review list but may certainly be considered again next year (or any year following) should this Increased Abundance become more permanent or stable.
Review of By-laws
The committee must review the TBRC By-laws every 3 years at the Annual Meeting.
Hockey brought up for discussion the current 4th round voting process around the number of votes required to accept or reject. The By-laws are written that only 4th round records that receive no more than one “reject” vote are accepted, while any record that receives two or more “reject” votes is rejected. Hockey asked the question if perhaps majority rules would serve better here – where a record is accepted if it receives more “accept” votes than it does “reject” votes. Other members mentioned that they liked the conservative approach where as few as two votes against a record can cause a 4th round record to be “rejected”. After some discussion of pros/cons to both approaches, ultimately nobody felt like there was a need to change the current process.
In addition, the following By-law changes were unanimously approved:
· One misspelling.
· Modernizing of process - replace “mail” with “e-mail”.
· Clarity on changes made in 2012 to allow for a non-voting Secretary.
· Handle situation for tie-breaking vote when TOS President is also a Voting Member. This situation occurred with Stone serving both roles at the same time.
· Renaming of Texas Cooperative Wildlife Collection references to Biodiversity Research & Teaching Collections as it is now called.
· Rewording/reorganizing “Recirculation” section. Clarity was needed here to handle all record recirculation in general (all rounds) separately from comments specific to 4th round circulations.
Discussion of Natural Occurrence Questionable category
Carpenter, Hockey and Pinkston all wished to start a discussion about “Natural Occurrence Questionable” voting and records. Over the years, there have been records from time to time where the identification was clearly not an issue and the voting came down to members’ thoughts around the bird’s suspected provenance. Of course, in many/most of these kinds of records, there is no way to conclusively answer that question so the voting often comes down to members’ gut/intuition on how reasonable it was for a particular bird to show up at a particular location naturally. The recent Striped Sparrow record (mentioned above) is perhaps the most extreme & puzzling example of this that most committee members can recall, where justifying a natural occurrence or a unnatural occurrence seems as equally likely as it is unlikely. Other examples of problematic records in recent years include Tropical Mockingbird, Double-toothed Kite and Red-legged Honeycreeper.
Each member agreed that there are records on both sides of the fence (accepted vs. rejected) that leave an empty feeling about the binary nature of how the committee currently votes on these records. A strong interest was expressed to explore other protocols/procedures and voting categories that would provide the means for such records to perhaps be otherwise classified and to allow a better framework for how committee members could vote for that classification.
Other BRC By-laws were explored prior to the meeting in regard to what guidance they provide for such records and two other US BRC’s have come up with procedures and categories that seemed attractive to members. Both the California BRC’s “Supplemental List” (see the Supplemental List section in their bylaws - here) and the Louisiana BRC's “Origin – Hypothetical” (see their bylaws - here) have provisions that are different than what the TBRC currently follows and both seem like good starting points for the TBRC to consider for any changes that might be undertaken.
Carpenter took an action item to come up with some draft revision(s) for possible changes in this regard over the coming year. Those will be presented to the rest of the committee during the year and sample use cases will be worked through. Subsequent revisions could be adjusted & reviewed by all committee members so that if changes are indeed desired on this topic, there could be a final draft of the changes presented at next year’s Annual Meeting.
With no other formal business on the agenda and no Any Other Business items raised, the meeting was adjourned at 12:52 PM.
Secretary, Texas Bird Records Committee