Monday, August 13, 2012

OBRC Questions - Questionable Origins

This was brought up in the comments of a recent "OBRC related" post, and I couldn't help but do a blog post about it.......

I feel like this is a mega "gray area" where we aren't going to change anything, but is a very interesting topic.. (I mean, hey, maybe we do change something for the better, which is ALWAYS a good thing)......

The SMEW in Whitby last December...

One has to question just how well we can determine the origins of many "rarities" that occur in Ontario every year..... Clearly most are wild vagrants, and clearly we do the best we can, but you'd be insane to not think that a number of our "vagrants" were assisted by humans in some way, or  that some birds we reject as "questionable" are actually wild birds........

Here's a random sample of some things I find funny about the OBRC:

--- Virtually every Barnacle Goose is rejected (for good reason, there are a LOT in captivity) --- but at the same time, a species like Tufted Duck is pretty much always accepted?

--- Most (all?) Black-billed Magpies are rejected, yet the species BREEDS in Ontario... Yet we suddenly changed our minds on Painted Buntings several years ago, and now all records are accepted

Point Pelee in May - REJECTED

Long Point in August - ACCEPTED

And then there are a few really dangerous records..... Like the SMEW records above that the OBRC is currently dealing with..... Should the OBRC just accept a record like this, to keep the Ontario birding community happy ;) ?

Again, not expecting too much in the way of ground breaking material, but if you have any comments related to situations like this (or any suggestions!) please leave a comment!

And just for fun, I'll leave a few other "funny" cases from the OBRC -


The Milford BBWD from 2010 --- that most of Ontario got to see :) --- although I don't think anyone submitted documentation that shows the bird was missing one of its halluxes :|


BTSP from Port Burwell in Aug 2009 --- check out that "cage foot" ;)


  1. I was birdwatching in Quebec last fall on a Mid-fall bird count and we found a European goldfinch. Now usually when one shows up, it`s automatically discounted. However this one was moving south with a mixed flock of robins and bluebirds, warblers and finches (it was the best fallout I`ve ever seen. The trees were dripping with Bluebirds. One tree had 43 of them in it). It was in open farm fields nowhere near a feeder. Now since this was well north of Gatineau, I truly considered it to be maybe a wild one. I didn`t push the point when it came to share numbers for the count, but nevertheless, I still counted it. So my question to you is, if someone finds a European Goldfinch of a Chaffinch in Moosonee, does it get counted or is it automatically out. Ditto for the Barnacle Goose? Are those calls just regional or is it a hard and fast rule? I ask this because its not to say that no one up north has caged birds, but the caged bird trade is harder to find further north as the suppliers are far far away. Another question I have is at what point do the birds become wild again? Obviously these birds have managed to survive in the wild for a period of time. They aren`t flying back to their cages. How long before one can consider the bird wild?

  2. What happens to records that are determined to be of questionable origin?

    Is there a set of guidelines that are used to help determine when some are excepted or not as in your examples above?

    Is there a predetermined list of species that are never excepted without proof?