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    The Saga of the Hooded Crane(s): The Plot Thickens

    When a bird never before reported in the ABA Area appears, birders usually come flocking, enduring heat, cold, insects, landfill smells, and even other birders to look for the waif. One of the great joys of our clan is seeing a species we’ve never seen before. But what do birders do when the species is held in captivity in North America? The saga of the Hooded Crane provides a fascinating example of this quandary.

    Like many species of waterfowl, cranes are held in captivity of many sorts, primarily zoos and crane breeding programs, but also in some cases smaller facilities, where they are often “on loan” from larger institutions. When Californians found a Demoiselle Crane in San Joaquin County in October 2001, for instance, it was considered almost certainly an escapee, and didn’t draw many admirers (though possibly the same bird was noted in British Columbia and Alaska the next year—so could it have been wild?).

    And when a Hooded Crane appeared with Sandhill Cranes in April 2010 in Carey, Idaho, it was assumed that the bird had not flown over from Russia but instead had escaped from captivity somewhere in North America. When birders then learned that several Hooded Cranes that had been at a private game park called “For the Birds” near Nampa, Idaho, were no longer there—and that their current whereabouts were unknown—we reasonably assumed that the Carey crane had come from the Nampa area. Few people came to look for the bird, and no further research was conducted into the Nampa birds. The Idaho Bird Records Committee did not review the record. End of story—right?

    Hooded Crane
    Hooded Crane – near Carey, Idaho, April 2010. Photograph by Robert Mortenson.

    Fast-forward one year to Hall County, Nebraska, April 2011: another Hooded Crane appears, possibly the same individual seen in Idaho. This time, local birders come out in much greater numbers. Why? Well, Nebraska has a few records of Common Crane, also from Eurasia, and they’re more accustomed to considering rare cranes as possibly wild vagrants, especially when found among their many tens of thousands of Sandhill Cranes and handful of migrant Whooping Cranes. As the Nebraska Hooded Crane was being seen, Mark Brogie, Chair of the state’s records committee, began researching holdings of Hooded Cranes in North America, and his research is ongoing, but he has been kind enough to share with ABA what he has discovered to date.

    Now that a Hooded Crane has turned up in Meigs County, Tennessee, and is still being seen there as of this posting, the Tennessee records committee will also be looking at questions of provenance. With over 2500 visitors, coming from 40 states and 10 countries, the Hooded in Tennessee is by far the most visited of the three noted in the wild in North America, and we at ABA could not resist the opportunity to ask the question: could any of these birds in fact be wild, as unlikely a supposition as this might have seemed a year ago?

    We had no idea what kind of a wild ride we were in for!

    Hooded Cranes, it turns out, are not numerous in captivity in North America, numbering only in the dozens, and they are very well tracked, with most individuals assigned a numeric code in the “stud book”. That reference also contains information on the sex of the bird, the date and location of hatching, date and cause of death, leg bands, and history of transfers.

    Through this reference, through ISIS (<www.isis.org>), and through many conversations with crane breeders, researchers, and curators, records committee sleuths have been able to track down almost all captive Hooded Cranes to their facilities, or from one facility to the next. The research of Mark Brogie and others has determined, thus far, that all but four captive Hooded Cranes have been accounted for—the birds last seen at “For the Birds.”

    This tale is one right out of Hollywood. On 27 October 2007, the owner of “For the Birds” animal park, Jerry L. Korn, was admitted to the local hospital. When he was released from the hospital in December of that year, he claims that the Hooded Cranes in his care (and much else) were missing from his property. There are suspicions about what happened, but at the time of this posting, no one searching for information, including crane researchers, has been able to discover the whereabouts of these cranes.

    Mark Brogie has learned that these four “missing” cranes were females, hatched in 1988 and 1989, that three of them wore leg bands, and that all four had been surgically pinioned (that is, their outer primaries were permanently removed) at the facility where they were hatched, the Wildlife Conservation Society (Bronx Zoo), which had loaned the birds to Korn. (Mark Brogie, who has spoken directly with people responsible for caring for these birds, and has inquired specifically about their ability to fly, has been promised the veterinary records to confirm the pinioning of these individuals.) So three of these birds would have had leg bands and purportedly none was capable of sustained flight. Without a male in the group, reproduction in the wild would not have been possible. Moreover, the Idaho bird seen at Carey was capable of strong flight, according to birders who went to see it.

    But what are the odds that four Hooded Cranes are deemed “missing” in Idaho in late 2007 and that a wild one would turn up in that state four years later? Most of us might think: not good. And so questions persist. Whatever happened to those lost cranes? And is it conceivable that a bird rendered unable to fly (or fly far) by pinioning could regain the ability to fly (or at least fly the 130 miles from the Nampa area to Carey)?

    Ready for the next twist? Robert Mortensen, ABA’s ‘Bird of the Year’ Coordinator, grew up in Nampa, Idaho—and went to school with Jerry’s son Christopher! Robert writes: “I remember pressing my nose up against the school bus window to look at his assortment of strange-looking birds in large netted pens along the I-84 freeway. Everyone going from Nampa to Boise in those days would remember the sight of the Korn place.” Robert went to see the Hooded Crane near Carey (photograph above), with his father-in-law, despite lingering questions about the provenance of the cranes, which according to local rumor had been taken by a family member during Mr. Korn’s hospital stay. “I am left with even more questions than before and I am still seeking answers,” Robert writes. “I’ve been reaching out to my Idaho birding friends, connections to the International Crane Foundation, and folks at the U.S. Department of Agriculture to see if they can clear up any part of the story. I’ve even tracked down my old classmate (who has apparently changed his surname) to see if he knows or remembers anything about the Hooded Crane mystery, but he has not replied as yet.”

    It turns out that ABA’s Web Developer, Greg Neise, worked for long spell at the famous Lincoln Park Zoo and has good contacts in the zoological world. Recently, he interviewed Donald Bruning, who was Curator of Birds at the Wildlife Conservation Society during the 1980s. Although Bruning did not specifically recall the four Hooded Cranes sent to Mr. Korn’s facility, he did say that the Bronx Zoo was successful in breeding the birds in those years and that several were sent to be paired with birds connected to the International Crane Foundation (ICF). He said it would be not uncommon for birds to be transferred to ICF, paired up, and then sent to a breeder working within the program, such as Mr. Korn presumably was. He suggested that if there were only four females at Mr. Korn’s facility, then it would seem that they were waiting for a male.

    Greg also interviewed Brant Tarr, Curator of Birds at ICF, who said that Hooded Cranes are so rare, both in captivity and in the wild, and that the captive birds are so well documented, that it would seem “almost impossible” for the Tennessee bird to be an escapee without the crane conservation community in the United States being aware of the loss. Bruning suggested that pinioned cranes could possibly, in very rare cases, regain some ability to fly. In the case of pinioning, however, the outer primaries would always be missing, which would be noticeable in a well-watched bird like the Tennessee crane. In recent years, tendonectomy has become the preferred method of rendering a crane flightless: because cranes use their wings during courtship dancing, pinioned birds have tended to be less successful in securing a mate. Tarr also said that any of the cranes in captivity, especially any bird in a facility such as “For the Birds,” would have an “affinity for people” and would not behave like a wild bird.

    Greg made inquiries of zoo veterinarians, and none of them had ever heard of a bird that had the wing tendon severed ever regaining the ability to fly. So, it would seem that if the crane being seen in Tennessee was one of the “missing four,” it would still be identifiable, because the outer primaries would be missing. Hooded Cranes in the Bronx facility during the period that these four females (known as #172, #173, #182, and #183) hatched were always pinioned, according to curators there.

    So at the moment, with only the Sea World facility in San Diego not yet reporting on their Hooded Cranes but other facilities confirming that theirs have not escaped, it is becoming more difficult to designate recent North American records of Hooded Crane as pertaining to former captives.

    Is there a black market for cranes? Possibly. Is it more likely that an undocumented captive Hooded Crane (or several of them) have been responsible for recent records in North America—or that wild birds might have strayed from Eurasia? This is the question that the ABA Checklist Committee, should they take up the matter, will deliberate in years to come. Stay tuned!

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    Ned Brinkley

    Ned Brinkley

    Ned Brinkley has edited North American Birds, ABA's journal of ornithology, full time since 2001 and contributed over 120 articles to birding journals and magazines since 1982. He started birding at age six in southeastern Virginia, with the Great Dismal Swamp and the Gulf Stream being perennial favorite patches. In the subsequent 40 years, he has birded and led birding tours on five continents, taught European literature and film at the University of Virginia, opened a birding bed-and-breakfast inn on Virginia's Eastern Shore, participated in research projects on seabirds, and written a few books, including Virginia's Birdlife: An Annotated Checklist (with Steve Rottenborn), The National Wildlife Federation Field Guide to Birds of North America, and a children's book on birds in the Reader's Digest Pathfinders series.
    • http://profile.typepad.com/thierrylach Thierry Lach

      Thanks for a very complete summary of the research. Hopefully the appropriate record committees will also receive and consider this information, which (at least to me) appears to be rather significant.

    • http://ivorybills.blogspot.com cyberthrush

      fascinating stuff… I assume there is no practical way to even guesstimate the age of this bird???
      There no doubt remain very active and under-the-radar black marketers for various psittacine and other birds, but whether there could be an active and hidden trade for a species as large and rare as Hooded Crane is more difficult to imagine, but still must be ruled out.
      Probabilities, when it comes to animal/bird behavior are much harder to determine than most admit, and in this case NONE of the scenarios seem very probable… yet, one of them must be!

    • Katie A

      While I realize obtaining a sample off live birds of this size is quite difficult, I wonder if anyone has considered ways to obtain feathers and use them to assign a potential geographic origin using radioactive isotopes. This has been used with a diverse group of birds, but especially passerines, primarily to determine breeding locations.

      In any case, this is a fascinating look at these birds’ history in the States and I look forward to seeing more debate on this bird and the past sightings as well.

    • Kevin Breault

      Well, I live in Tennessee, I’ve seen the bird and I am quite aware of the many people who have made the effort to see the bird and help others see the bird, but frankly I am somewhat uncomfortable with decisions based on the putative likelihood of two highly rare events. From a scientific point of view we can’t even begin to make rational estimates of the two possibilities, wild origin or captivity, at this time and if anything, additional information discovered in the future will almost certainly fall on the side of captivity as supporting evidence is not likely to be found for wild origin (the exception being if more Hooded Cranes come our way, in which case we can reconsider the issue at that time). Unfortunately, the bottom line is that not having the ability to rationally decide either way, or not having the confidence that the decision is correct, would appear to require us to leave the checklist unchanged at this time.

    • Andrew Haffenden

      There seems to be some of the journalistic “fairness” concept creeping in, to give both sides of an argument equal weight regardless of the evidence (See: global warming,)as exemplified by Kevin’s reasoned post. However, at this stage we don’t have two equally improbable events. One event – captive origin – so far has every avenue investigated turn out to be a dead end. That is, all the actual evidence presented so far goes against captive origin. On the other side, we have no evidence against wild origin. There is a perfectly feasible scenario for the crane’s arrival here – of course unprovable – of overflying in Siberia, or flying in the wrong direction, which we see individual migrating birds here do annually, joining with common cranes flying to the US, then hop-scotching across via various crane flocks to Tennessee. Unlikely? Yes. Impossible? No. A correctly pinioned bird – and I assume the Bronx Zoo’s vets know how to pinion a bird – growing its wing back enough to appear perfect to experienced observers? Just not going to happen. Every other known bird is accounted for, all with impeccable numbered history. Smuggling a crane into the US, and keeping it quiet? Hard to fit a 5ft bird down your pants leg, and crane chicks are usually pretty continuously noisy when concerned. Fertile eggs are very difficult to move any distance without separating the embryo or drowning it. Raising a crane from small chick to healthy adult requires considerable expertise and hours-long daily attention; such a crane raised by a fancier would not be raised in a way to be able to return to the wild, but would be imprinted on or bonded to its care-giver. With such a spectacular bird there would have to have some underground murmur in the birdkeeping world. So, all the hard evidence in so far counters captive origin, and there is no evidence at all against wild origin, just a unlikelihood level. The two options are nowhere near equal, at this point.

    • Kevin Breault

      Perhaps I was not clear. It is not that “the two options” are equal with regard to the “evidence,” but that they are unknown and perhaps unknowable in terms of their comparative rarity. Is a wild Hooded Crane in Tennessee less rare than a previously captive bird? I really don’t know and I am uncomfortable with the notion that we can know which event is more common at this time, and that we can make decisions based on that knowledge. I’m not a journalist and my professional work is not in global warming. Rather, I’m a research scientist specifically interested in uncommon forms of human morbidity and mortality, and I know that we should not make the fallacy (let’s call it the birder’s fallacy for purposes here), that rare events can be more common than they are. Given the uncertainty what we need is more data–not speculation, theories and a rush to judgement in our excitement over the discovery–that, unfortunately, only time may provide. If the checklist is important to birders this is a time for careful scientific scrutiny.

    • Morgan Churchill

      The issue that Andrew brings up however is that at the moment, there doesn’t appear to be any evidence that a captive bird escaped and is the bird in Tennessee at the moment. Given the rarity of this species in collections in the US, the fact that all known birds are pinioned and accounted for, and the difficulty in smuggling such a species, it’s hard for me to think that escaped bird and natural vagrant have equal probabilities.

    • http://profile.typepad.com/6p0162fbed8b53970d Ned Brinkley

      Thanks to all who took the time to reply on this short piece. I think all the replies raise important points. For those inclined to read more on this, North American Birds featured an essay called “Provenance” in Volume 64, No. 1 that deals with some of these issues.

    • http://profile.typepad.com/6p0162fbed8b53970d Ned Brinkley

      I think that Greg, Robert, and I intended with this update to bring what we could in the way of facts (or at least, the best information we could nail down over a period of several weeks), rather than introduce speculation about vectors of vagrancy, etc. We too often read rumors about individual birds that turn out not to be true, but just as often we read long hypothetical scenarios about how a vagrant traveled from Old World to New. We opted in this piece to try to find out as much as we could about the circumstances of Hooded Cranes kept in captivity in North America.

    • http://profile.typepad.com/6p0162fbed8b53970d Ned Brinkley

      My personal view, which isn’t necessarily shared by others at ABA or in other birding organizations, is close to Kevin’s, as expressed above, namely that we may not have (now or ever) adequate information on individual birds to make a judgment that is accurate as pertains to provenance. I think that, too many times, people who work (and play) in the fields of science forget that agnosticism – the position that acknowledges data deficiencies and thus a lack of knowledge or judgment – is a perfectly reasonable response to a situation with an individual bird like this one. In the essay “Provenance,” my effort was to point this out but also to suggest that in dismissing birds such as the crane (relegating them to the purgatory of the “uncountable,” even temporarily), birders have historically tended not to gather good information about such species. Most examples come from waterfowl, but there are raptors, flamingos, and many tropical species that could be included.

    • http://profile.typepad.com/6p0162fbed8b53970d Ned Brinkley

      I have been fascinated to watch how local eBird data reviewers treat birds that are definitely (mutt Muscovy Ducks), probably (White-cheeked Pintails away from the Southeast coast), and possibly (Barnacle Geese) escapees (or feral, exotic, domestic, etc.). Some reviewers put the records through, marking them as Valid so long as they’re well documented. Others flag the records as referring to possibly captive birds and mark them as Not Valid, so they’re not visible in the eBird output products. Some of these birds “count” as a bird on one’s lists in eBird; others (thankfully!) do not, such as the domestic-type Graylag Geese. What I think is most interesting about all this is that we do not lose the information – the location, date, observer, plumage, photographs – on these birds, as we have in the past with so many occurrences of waterfowl. Once lost, these data are difficult or impossible to piece back together. So eBird offers reviewers an opportunity to select agnosticism (neutrality) about provenance while specifically reviewing the identification of the bird. I haven’t checked to see how reviewers in Tennessee, Nebraska, or Idaho have dealt with reports of Hooded Crane, but it will be interesting, certainly, to browse the maps and find out! (Sorry for the many postings here, but I could only post short segments, for some reason.)

    • strix nebulosa

      I saw the Carey Idaho bird several times over a week or so it was there. I stated then that I felt it was wild bird and I am sticking by that determination. To recap some of the info I posted then. Hooded Crane is and endangered species listed under the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) as such it is illegal to import the species for any reason without a permit from the US Fish and Wildlife Service. These can be obtained by research and propagation facilities and education such as zoos. However 50 CFR 17 requires that the birds be banded with color markers. additionally the reference to surgical removal of primaries in the original blog post above. The bird I observed at Carey had neither bands nor missing feathers and was quite capable of flight. This positively rules out the birds from Nampa as the owner has verified both conditions for the missing birds. Since all other birds in captivity in North America have been accounted for, this leaves only two possibilities for this bird. A black market collector or it is indeed of wild origin. A bird the size of a crane I think would be very difficult to smuggle and even if it could be snuck in I think it would cost tens of thousands of dollars. If someone has invested that kind of money in illegal activity I think they would go to great lengths to prevent the bird from escaping at least take basic precautions like clipping the flight feathers. Since other cranes which nest in in Siberia (Common Cranes) are known to occasionally cross the Bering Straight and into the Pacific Flyway with Sandhills I feel that a wild origin is far more likely. Not to mention the fact that when I asked a federal wildlife officer about this he had never even heard of Hooded Cranes being smuggled or sold on the black market. I have to admit I am somewhat puzzled by folks who want to insist that this bird was a victim of smugglers rather than natural dispersion.

    • Bill Pulliam

      Thierry — rest assured that the state BRCs are paying close attention to every tidbit and actively working to uncover more information. The link to this blog entry was circulated among the Tennessee BRC members within 24 hours! One thing worth remembering is that though this is a fascinating case, there is not a whole lot of heavy impact that will follow from whatever various committees decide. There are no millions of dollars of federal money or reshuffled conservation priorities hinging on it this time; it’s just a matter of whether and where it will be placed on various official and personal species lists.

      As for eBird, the Tennessee eBird reports for the Hooded Crane are being validated at the present. We decided that since the bird was *possibly* wild and was of great interest it made sense to have it show on the maps and charts. Nebraska also validated their reports. The policy of eBird is to follow state BRC decisions once they are issued; but in the meantime we have to make our own calls. The status of a record in eBird can be easily changed if information and opinions shift. The “follow-the-BRC” policy is not so strict with introduced species; many populations of exotics that are not accepted and countable under state or ABA committees are shown as valid in eBird; though obvious first-generation escapees are not. It is subjective — the eastern Whooping Cranes are “not valid” when they are following the ultralight, but they are “valid” once they are traveling on their own. Of course this means yo have to keep separate track for yourself of any birds you have on your eBird lists that are not to be counted on your ABA reportable list totals! I keep a note beside my computer with the subtractions (which now includes Hooded Crane). And ALL these reports remain in the eBird database and can be retrieved if there is a specific interest, even the Chilean Flamingos at Elkhorn Slough in the 1980s.

    • http://profile.typepad.com/chaetura Chaetura

      I just wanted to correct one item mentioned above. The Idaho Bird Records Committee will be reviewing the Carey, Idaho Hooded Crane record. I checked with our secretary, Shirley Sturts, and a report was submitted and is currently being held while information is gathered (similar to the other BRC’s I presume). In fact anyone can view the submitted report here: http://idahobirds.net/ibrc/archive/Review_Records/Hooded%20Crane/21-B-11/wright-pulliam.html and other reports of this bird are welcome here: http://idahobirds.net/ibrc/rarebirdreportform.html

      Charles Swift, Moscow, Idaho

    • http://profile.typepad.com/6p0162fbed8b53970d Ned Brinkley

      Thanks, Bill and Charles, for perspectives on the situation with the reports at eBird and the records committees. I think when we first assembled this blog material two weeks ago, we were working on the assumption that as of April 2010, there had been no formal submission of the Hooded Crane near Carey to the Idaho committee. (We probably should have been more clear about that!) It appears now that all three state committees have submissions before them and are working to research the situation with captive Hooded Cranes. Perhaps there could be formal collaboration between the parties working on this matter, so that effort is not duplicated? I’m sure that readers of this blog would enjoy hearing more on this subject, as more information is discovered. Good work, good luck, and thanks again.

    • [email protected]

      There are ways to estimate the age of cranes that are young birds and still growing. But once the bird has reached maturity, around 3 years, it is more difficult to age. Also Cranes are long-lived birds and can live decades. The oldest known crane, a Siberian crane, lived 83 years. Unfortunately like many rare species there is a black market for cranes. Cranes and other endangered species are traded by zoos and organizations like ICF to private breeders and once these animals are sent into the private sector, many are NOT tracked and records are very sketchy.

    • Ian Lewis

      I have seen a Sandhill Crane in a flock of Hooded Cranes in Japan, surely it would not be impossible for the reverse to happen. I know ther are far more Sandhills in the world than Hoodeds, but for a Hooded Crane to reach the ABA area is far from impossible.

    • Ross Geredien

      One question that is not addressed by this article is, how many escape incidents have occurred in the last 10-20 years in North America? Each of these events should be tracked. From this, it would be possible to do some probability analysis, and it may also be possible to rule out sightings elsewhere, not just the bird in Idaho. With a species this well documented, this is a rare opportunity to gather this much data.
      I would also be very curious to see the distribution of the captive hooded cranes in North America. Which facilities have them? What states are they in? How many states have captive hoodeds? etc. And how frequently do they escape? Is the escaped group from Nampa an isolated incident, or have there been others?.

    • [email protected]

      Like Ian Lewis I have seen Sandhllls in japan plus other wanderers like Demoiselles. Sandhills have been recorded in Britain four times, so cranes can go a long way from home. So we are faced with the two scenarios that it is an escape, most but not all are accounted for, and could there be an underground crane breeder out there, possible, maybe not likely. To overcome this idea of captivity we would need DNA evidence. THis should be possible without capturing the bird. This would show where the bird originated and if it is from captive origin bred here in he US.

      Secondly the theory of wild origin. We need to look at all extralimital records for this species. Does it wander often, sometimes, rarely or not known as a wanderer? From a quick search I have found that his species is known to wander somewhat; it has been recorded as a wintering species in India, far to the west of it’s normal area. A far more thorough search of records would need to be made.

      My initial reaction to this record was escape, but now I am not so sure. In all probability this will go down ( in the absence of DNA) as unknown origin.

    • Paul Jones

      I’m a lister and I love ticking off lifers, especially rare ones.

      But when it comes to counting birds where wild origin is suspect I try really hard not to fall into the trap of selecting evidence that supports my desire (i.e. that the bird is tickable)and downplaying information to the contrary.

      Still, a lot of time I can almost hear the combination enthusiasm/desperation in my own head when I am a little too eager to add a bird to my list. For example, a Sandhill Crane with Hooded Cranes in Japan? Sounds interesting! But then I remember that Sandhill Cranes breed in Siberia so a Japanese record of that species tells us little or nothing about a Hooded Crane in Tennessee.

      In this case we have no history of vagrancy, bands that fall off or are removed, unconfirmed surgical procedures, four cranes unaccounted for, plus some status uncertain birds from San Diego, plus the fact that there could be more floating around out there that we don’t know about. Conclusion – could be wild but Unknown Origin is the reasonable label.

    • http://profile.typepad.com/6p0162fbed8b53970d Ned Brinkley

      Thanks, Ian, Ross, Paul, and Anonymous for the engaging comments. Again, our work was intended to indicate the preliminary, not the “final,” findings of people investigating the holdings of Hooded Crane in North America, their status, and so forth. And we’ll be glad to post updates if there is interest, as there appears to be (several thousand people have read this blog essay). It takes a while to investigate something as complex as this. But I think, personally, that everyone should remain within the realm of fact as long as possible before moving into the hypothetical. A Hooded Crane moving from Siberia to North America is not implausible, and no one among us can say what such a misoriented bird might do. No one. DNA samples would tell us that the bird is a Hooded Crane, but nothing more. If the bird is newly arrived, rather than present for a molt cycle or two, then analysis of stable isotopes could potentially tell us that the bird came from eastern Eurasia. A feather or two from the Tennessee bird could be a valuable thing to obtain, in that scenario. But if we do not have that evidence, then we are left entirely in the realm of speculation – not probability, not science. It is a realm of “best guess.” No one among us can say, with certainty, if a Hooded Crane came from the black market or from a larch bog near Chul’man. We do know that Hooded Cranes breed in eastern Russia; we have no evidence at all – yet – of Hooded Cranes in an American black market setting. But the tendency for many committees is to assume that a bird is more likely to be an escapee, in the absence of a pattern of vagrancy. This has several effects on birders’ relationships with such birds, one of which is not to study such birds carefully or take good notes on them. Whatever the provenance of the Tennessee Hooded Crane, or the other two (assuming they’re not all the same bird), I do think it’s a pity that the presumption of captive provenance, which is often considered scientific conservatism, has led to indifference or poor records-keeping in so many cases. I don’t believe a committee determination (which is often later reversed, sometimes decades later), or the expectation of a negative determination, should have a negative impact on our engagement with the birds we observe around us. In fact, I think that a scientific engagement with such birds should require precisely that we pay close attention to them – not just potentially “wild” birds like the cranes but also birds that have indubitably been introduced from captivity into the wild. Ted Floyd’s recent “Changing Seasons” essay makes this point well: that selective ignorance of birds around us is not in our best interests.

    • http://profile.typepad.com/chaetura Chaetura

      @Ned – in post above do you mean April 2011? The Idaho sighting occurred in April 2010 so would have been unlikely to have been submitted by then. It appears this record was submitted in May of this year. I’m sure the committee would be happy to receive additional information from others observing this bird (link to submission form in my post above) and will collaborate with other BRC’s. BTW I do think it should be possible to calculate probabilities for the provenance of records like the Hooded Crane based on prior information (Ted may have some input on this as he has proposed the use of probabilities in similar situations). Thanks for the discussion! Charles.

    • C Cooper

      Having been the first to spot this bird in Nebraska I am amazed at your Article. I tend to believe in Nature.

    • Michael Retter

      I just read the following interesting bit of information within the Sandhill Crane account in Mark Brazil’s recent field guide, “Birds of East Asia”: “Joins large flocks of Hooded Crane.”

    • http://wkek79.tumblr.com/ Westley Knight

      Thank you for your invaluable insight, Ned. Your perspective on birding, feral animals, and provenance certainly inform several important arguments of the moment.

    • Bill Pranty

      Has anybody else noticed that the entire text of this article is repeated?

      • http://blog.aba.org/ Nate Swick

        Thanks, Bill. It must have been a kink in the code when we switched platforms.

        • Bill Pranty

          Hi Nate, I just revisited the page and all the repeated text remains.

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