2017 TBRC Annual Meeting
The 2017 annual meeting of the Texas Bird Records Committee (hereafter committee or TBRC) was held at 10:30 AM on 15 July 2017 at the Biodiversity Researching and Teaching Collections (BRTC) in College Station, Texas. Keith Arnold served as host. Seven members were present in person; two members attended via conference call; one member (Lockwood) was absent. In attendance were:
● Randy Pinkston, Chair
● Eric Carpenter, Secretary
● Keith Arnold, Academician
● Tony Frank
● Chris Runk
● Dan Jones (via conference call)
● Stephan Lorenz (via conference call)
● Petra Hockey
● Greg Cook
The meeting was convened at 10:37 AM.
Election of Members
Carpenter, Arnold and Pinkston were the only nominees respectively for the Secretary, Academician, and Chair positions. Hockey’s 1st term expired at the Annual Meeting and she was the only nominee for that position. As all positions were uncontested, all four were re-elected by acclamation.
Effective at the end of the Annual Meeting, current membership and term of service are as follows:
● Randy Pinkston, Chair - term expires in 2019; can be re-elected
● Eric Carpenter, Secretary (not a Voting Member) - term expires in 2018; 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 expires in 2018; can be re-elected
● Petra Hockey – 2nd term expires in 2020
● 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 remains:
Fourth Round Records
Two fourth-round records were discussed and voted on:
2016-17 – Blue-footed Booby
28 Dec 1986, Big Shell Beach, Padre Island National Seashore, Kenedy Co.
2016-24 – Rose-throated Becard
Apr 2008, Paradise Pond, Port Aransas, Nueces Co.
not accepted 4-4
Review Species – possible candidates for removal from the Review List
Carpenter moved that Brown Booby be removed from the Review List; the motion was seconded by several. Discussion on this topic covered the increased occurrence of this bird in the state since 2012. In a five-year period, there have been at least 60 different records (both TBRC reviewed and additional ones that have been photographed and not yet reviewed), including 16 inland records. At least 8 of these occurrences have involved multiple birds, with a high count of 11 birds in the same location at least once. Even if this rise in numbers is a short-term phenomenon, it doesn’t seem to be abating any time soon. Many of the sightings are documented in eBird so there is a mechanism to document these sightings outside of the TBRC. Given this background, the committee voted unanimously to remove Brown Booby from the Review List.
Carpenter moved that he fast-track existing Brown Booby records; this motion was also seconded. Carpenter estimated there were perhaps 20 or so sightings of Brown Booby that had not been reviewed (some had not yet been submitted), many of them had at least one diagnostic photo of Brown Booby as part of their documentation. Carpenter requested that such records with identifiable photos be “fast-tracked”. This means that Carpenter would continue to gather material on existing sightings from prior to the species' removal from the list, and in cases where there are identifiable photos, that he Accept these records on behalf of the committee without requiring official review by all members. The committee voted unanimously to allow such records to be fast-tracked. Records without clear-cut photo documentation will continue to be circulated. Carpenter will keep the committee up to date on fast-tracked records as he processes them.
“Lawrence’s” Dusky-capped Flycatcher (M.t. lawrenceii)
Carpenter moved that “Lawrence’s” Dusky-capped Flycatcher be removed from Review List B; this motion was seconded. This species has not shown up in consistent numbers and the last accepted record was in 2015, but Carpenter pointed out the difficulty in getting adequate documentation to eliminate M.t. olivascens. Mediocre photos and/or recordings of heard-only birds have led to rejecting of at least one record and also non-submission of other potential records as most birders aren’t making the needed effort to determine subspecies. Other committee members (Pinkston) mentioned that perhaps identification of this subspecies is more difficult than shown in field guides with perhaps clinal variation between the duller olivascens and the bright lawrenceii. Still, others (Hockey, Jones) mentioned that there are well-marked birds that seem to be clearly identifiable to subspecies, and there were some thoughts that perhaps these subspecies could be split in the future. And though there was some discussion about lawrenceii being the default subspecies in south Texas, Jones commented that he and others have seen individual birds that seemed quite dull, possibly being olivascens. Overall, there was not unanimous support for this proposal and lawrenceii remains on Review List B.
Carpenter moved that Iceland Gull be removed from the Review List; this motion was seconded by several. The American Ornithological Society 58th supplement was published earlier in the month and included lumping of Iceland Gull and Thayer’s Gull into Iceland Gull. Prior to the meeting, all members of the committee had reviewed the proposal for this lumping which gave a good background/explanation to the history of this complex and the motivation for the proposal. With the proposal being approved, Thayer’s Gull is now considered a subspecies of Iceland Gull and the non-Thayer’s Iceland Gull records in Texas to this point have all been considered “Kumlien’s” Iceland Gull. “Kumlien’s” is widely regarded to be an intergrade between Thayer’s and the nominate subspecies. Given this background and the fact that the Thayer’s subspecies has long been considered a regular visitor to Texas, the motion to officially remove Iceland Gull from the Review List was unanimously approved. In addition, since it seems that the non-Thayer’s Iceland Gulls that occur in Texas are not considered a difference subspecies but instead are treated as an intergrade, there was no desire to add that intergrade to Review List B. In addition, there was agreement to not review any current/pending Iceland Gull records (1 from Galveston County) given this change in taxonomy.
Progress of Digitization Project
Carpenter gave a very brief update of the recently started project to digitize TBRC materials. All materials for TBRC records are housed at the BRTC, including many years where all of this documentation is paper-only and printed photos. There are at least 3-4 full filing cabinets full of TBRC records that need to be digitized. TOS has budgeted monies for the BRTC, under the direction of one of the curators, Heather Prestridge, to scan all TBRC material and get the digitized documents to the TBRC and also archive them in the Texas A&M library. Carpenter provided a sample of what has been done so far, sharing a digitized PDF of an old record from 1992. Prestridge estimates that the project may take up to three semesters to complete. Carpenter will provide another update at next year’s Annual Meeting.
Changes to By-laws
Correction of typo in reference
In the weeks prior to Annual Meeting, committee members had been reviewing the by-laws and Frank noticed a typo. In Section VI.F.11, there was a reference back to section “VI. F. (3)(e)” which does not exist. Instead the proper reference should be “VI. E. (3)(c)”. The committee unanimously approved this correction.
At the 2016 Annual Meeting, there had been discussion of seeking better ways to classify/represent status for some records that the committee was rejecting due to “Natural Occurrence Questionable”. The committee had been looking at both the California BRC’s “Supplemental List” (see the Supplemental List section in their bylaws) and the Louisiana BRC “Origin – Hypothetical” (see their bylaws as well) as starting points for the TBRC to consider for handling such records.
In the weeks prior to this Annual Meeting, Carpenter had circulated a draft revision of new By-laws that included a new section (VI.F.13) which is essentially the same “Supplemental List” wording that the California BRC employs. This option seemed like a better fit than the Louisiana BRC approach, since the Supplemental List is an additional process that doesn’t change how current voting procedures work. Some of the other options would have made slight changes to the current voting process which was not desired. Carpenter presented the new Supplemental List section with a couple minor word changes for clarity (Frank). The committee unanimously accepted this change.
As per the new Supplemental List section, Cook requested that Carpenter circulate the Tropical Mockingbird (TBRC 2012-36) and Striped Sparrow (TBRC 2015-04) for consideration for this list.
With no other formal business on the agenda and no Any Other Business items raised, the meeting was adjourned at 11:42 AM.
Secretary, Texas Bird Records Committee