Indian House Crow in County Cork

16 Sep 2010 16:25 - 16 Sep 2010 16:27 #440 by Mike Prince
What are people's thoughts on the current Indian House Crow at Cobh in County Cork?

The IRBC do not accept ship-assisted birds, and hence the earlier House Crow record, of a bird in County Waterford from 1974-1980 (the first European record incidentally), resides on category D. Our "official" Britain and Ireland list follows the IRBC and BOU rules and therefore, unless the IRBC revisit their stance on ship-assistance, it seems likely that the current bird will meet the same fate. Although we do add "provisional" or "pending" species to authorities occasionally, we do this where we believe it is most likely that the species will be accepted in due course. For the House Crow we feel this is not that likely and so do not intend to add it as a pending species. (If you keep a UK400 list though it is countable, due to "special license given to this species due to its frequent utilisation of vessels".)

If you have seen it (and why not - although I see several thousand of them each day here in Bangalore, crows do have several redeeming features!) and feel strongly otherwise then do let us know! You may want to add it to your list comments anyway so that other listers know you've seen it even if it is not contributing to your total.

For a wealth of information on House Crows see an old but relevant article from 10000birds.com .
Last edit: 16 Sep 2010 16:27 by Mike Prince.

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17 Sep 2010 05:09 #441 by Steve Webb
Mike,

I personally see little difference between House Crow and many other birds that are already on the British list. For example, Northern Mockingbird and Brown Thrasher which are short distance migrants. Many of the American sparrows arrive at/near ports e.g. White-crownd Sparrow at Seaforth.

Probably many birds from America spend some of their time on boats including some warblers. So I take the view all American birds are countable. Taking that view means I would include House Crow on the BOU British list.

Cheers
Steve

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22 Sep 2010 20:33 #452 by Malcolm Roxby
The problem I see with the Indian House Crow is it's a totally sedentary species while a lot of American landbirds that turn up in the UK are migratory. I take Steve's view on the Mockingbird and Thrasher, though personally I think neither should be on the British list (Thats not just because I havent seen either, I also think Lark Sparrow is a dubious vagrant and I have seen one in the UK). My view (for what it's worth) is that if a bird has no chance of making it to the UK as a genuine vagrant (without assistance) then whats the point of adding it to the British/Irish list? We are back to the old argument of a Toucan on a babana boat, where does it stop?

Saying that I also accept that House Crow is an expanding species which utilises boats though I seriously doubt that they do it conciously as a means of global expansion!

See it/dont see it, count it/dont count it, its all personal and as long as youre having fun thats all that matters..........like the RSPB say 'Birds are brilliant'!

Malcolm

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22 Sep 2010 21:48 #453 by Malcolm Roxby
Sorry the above should read Banana boat (!), though the way it's going we will all be counting birds off babana boats soon.............

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04 Oct 2010 18:09 #462 by Owen Foley
As a birder resident in Cork, I have ticked this species.
Many birders have travelled for it from both Ireland and Britain, and a great many have ticked this regardless of what the IRBC do with it. (And believe me, I don't know of any birder in Ireland who puts any weight to what the UK400club do across the water).

So if so many are ticking it, regardless of "rules", are the rules worth having?
Me personally, I say no. The important issue is whether the species has occurred or not. And as it clearly has (twice), I would argue that it should be made available to tick and leave the responsibility with the ticker and not and pontificating body.

Regards

Owen

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05 Oct 2010 02:38 #463 by Steve Webb
I agree with Owen’s comments.

Quite a large number of British birders have ticked the House Crow on their combined British and Irish list. Regarding House Crow its preferred method is to travel by boat which resulted in establishment of the colony in Holland.

The number of birds that make it here by boat at least in part must be vast. Some of the rare owls come by boat. For example, Snowy Owl at Felixstowe 2001 was oil-stained from a ship from Canada. There have been a number of Hawk Owl's of the American race.

Regards
Steve

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05 Oct 2010 07:13 - 05 Oct 2010 07:15 #464 by Andy Musgrove
You're all correct of course about House Crows "naturally" cadging a lift on boats and so on. However, here at BUBO, we use established "authorities" to determine the base lists for people to add their ticks to. We don't ourselves make decisions on what can and can't be counted - we'll leave that up to other folk.

OK, when something's an entirely new occurrence, such as a Tufted Puffin, we'll add it as a "pending" because the relevant authority hasn't yet had time to consider the record. However, the IRBC has already considered an earlier (and, to all intents and purposes, equivalent) record of House Crow and decided not to add it to their list. Hence, we don't propose to make it available on a IRBC or "Official British & Irish" (i.e. BOU+IRBC) list, unless the IRBC changes its mind. Go and buy a pint for a friendly IRBC member! Alternatively, folk can always add it to a UK400 Club or Birdwatch list if they so wish.

Sorry to be an old stick in the mud and all that!

Cheers

Andy
Last edit: 05 Oct 2010 07:15 by Andy Musgrove.

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05 Oct 2010 07:24 #465 by Owen Foley
But the IRBC HAVE added it to the Irish list. Category D. It is on the Irish list.
The "rule" that category D species are not "tickable" is a rule made up by the birding body itself....a rule which many who have gone for the bird obviously do not follow.

So if it is not an IRBC ruling that it is not tickable, and a great number of birders are not concerned about ticking it, why not make it tickable?

Owen

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05 Oct 2010 12:36 #466 by Mike Prince
Owen Foley wrote:

But the IRBC HAVE added it to the Irish list. Category D. It is on the Irish list.

Category D species, according to the IRBC, "do not form part of the Irish List". I agree it's "not an IRBC ruling that it is not tickable", but then the IRBC are not in the business of defining what birds can or can't be ticked, they are responsible for maintaining a list of Irish birds. Their categorisation follows AERC and is in common with many other authorities.

There is nothing to say that as birders we can't tick anything we want. No-one sets rules for ticking, so if a birder wants to count category D species, or category E for that matter, then they can. (Although I'm sure a minority of birders would want to do this.) Pretty much the only "rule" we use on BUBO Listing is that we follow the considered opinions of established authorities, and their official list. Hence category D species are not included. In this instance there doesn't appear to be any suggestion that IRBC would change their classification of House Crow based on this second record, so it is unlikely to make it on to the Irish list officially.

As Andy mentions, Birdwatch and UK400 do both accept House Crow based on the earlier Irish occurrence, so you can always keep one of these lists for Britain and Ireland and hence count House Crow on it.

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05 Oct 2010 17:55 #467 by Owen Foley
Hi Mike,

Can you make the Birdwatch list accessible in an Irish context?

Like every birder in Ireland, I do not keep a "British and Irish list". The very concept is laughable to many Irish birders.

Also like many Irish birders I do not adhere to the IRBC List, as it excludes many birds that I fully believe have genuinely occurred in Ireland (booted eagle etc) and , obviously, House Crow being a contention point.

Owen

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08 Oct 2010 03:40 #471 by Andy Musgrove
Hi Owen - have done this now. Note however that the list obviously does include a load of species seen in Britain but not Ireland yet.

Cheers

Andy

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09 Oct 2010 12:59 #472 by Mike Prince
Hi Owen

We could give an Irish only version of the Birdwatch list that Andy has set up, after going through it all and removing Britain only ones. If you'd like this more appropriate list, any chance of us grabbing a small favour from you and getting you to mark the invalid species? If you wouldn't mind doing this I can email you a spreadsheet?

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19 Oct 2010 23:56 #474 by Steve Webb
I thought the 5 page article by Keith Vinicombe in the November Birdwatch magazine summed up the situation fairly well.

It gave plenty of examples of ship passage birds including a Pacific Golden Plover to Japan. It gave a list of 16 species of passerine vagrants from North America that seem likely to be somewhat or entirely ship assisted which included sparrows, RB Nuthatch, Junco, Towhee and BH Cowbird.

It even suggested that the BOURC could go one step further and also accept only ship-assisted vagrants from North America regardless of their migratory abilities.

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20 Oct 2010 03:12 #475 by Malcolm Roxby
I Think I have completely lost the intention of Mike's original post. I thought the question was whether or not House Crow should be included on Bubo's 'official' UK and Eire list not whether any individual can or cant count it on a personal list, because of course they can. What attracted me to this list in the first place was its none ambiguous approach to listing, if it's not on Cat A then it wont be included on this list and I dont see why this should change. I'm sure if it had been recoreded in the UK then it would have been pended awaiting the decision of BOURC but as its already on the Irish list as Cat D then I see little point in adding it to this list unless the Irish upgrade to A.

If we put House Crow on this list then the floodgates open and all Cat D species should be added, which in my mind would lessen the integrity of the list. For those who want to count Cat D species other lists are available. I'm actually not against the House Crow (I have seen it) and personally think it should just go to Cat A as a ship assisted 'vagrant' but thats my personal opinion whereas this is a list of officially accepted birds.

Maybe there is an argument for adding all cat D birds to the list so people can record them thereon but maybe they should not form part of the list total? There are undoubtedly some good birds on Cat D which deserve, and no doubt will be upgraded in time. It was a long wait before I could count the Fair Isle Brown Flycatcher for example.


Also I think we should be very careful about trying to prompt the Irish to upgrade, after all its their national list and they are well qualified to look after it themselves. After all we are foreigners who have just decided to keep a British/Irish list and who wouldnt want to when it gives you the opportunity to visit such a wonderful place.

And before some argumentative old soul says why not keep a British/American list?............well go ahead nobody is stopping you!

Cheers and good birding

Malcolm

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20 Oct 2010 14:14 #476 by Mike Prince
Hi Malcolm

Thanks for a good summary. It is a fine line for us to balance being unbiased and authoritative but also relevant, up to date and appealing to all listers. I think that making the Birdwatch list available for Ireland as Owen requested is the right approach to suit the majority of viewpoints in this case.

After all we are foreigners who have just decided to keep a British/Irish list

I think Owen might object to that!

who wouldnt want to when it gives you the opportunity to visit such a wonderful place.

Ok, I'm sure Owen will be happy again now!
B)

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20 Oct 2010 20:41 #477 by Owen Foley
Hi Mike,

Please send on the spreadsheet and I will take a crack at it.

Owen

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20 Oct 2010 23:26 #478 by Mike Prince
Thanks to Owen for going through the list, we now have an Ireland only version of the Birdwatch Magazine checklist available.

Note that we have some updates outstanding from the recent Birdwatch Magazine update to their checklist and will include the relevant ones for Ireland when we implement these.

Looking forward to seeing lots of Irish lists with House Crow on now!

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20 Oct 2010 23:31 #479 by Owen Foley
Oops. Missed one.
White faced Petrel shouldnt be on there either.

Regards

Owen

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20 Oct 2010 23:33 #480 by Owen Foley
As for getting Irish birders to display their lists... :laugh:

Good luck with that! :S

For some reason, Irish birders are very secretive about their lists!

Owen

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20 Oct 2010 23:47 #481 by Mike Prince

White faced Petrel shouldnt be on there either.

Now removed.

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