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5+2 Bird Species Added to ABA Checklist!

The November 2012 issue of Birding features the ABA Checklist Committee’s annual report, highlighted by the addition to the ABA Checklist of the following five species:

12-6-01-01 [Rosy-faced Lovebird]The November 2012 issue of Birding features the ABA Checklist Committee’s annual report, highlighted by the addition to the ABA Checklist of the following five species:

1. Providence Petrel
2. Double-toothed Kite
3. Rosy-faced Lovebird
4. Nanday Parakeet
5. Asian Rosy-FInch

By stipulation, the ABA Checklist Committee adopts all taxonomic decisions of the American Ornithologists’ Union Check-list Committee. (Yes, Checklist-without-a-hyphen for the ABA vs. Check-list-with-a-hyphen for the AOU. Go figure.) Earlier this year, the AOU Check-list Committee split the Xantus’s Murrelet into two species, the Guadalupe and Scripps’s murrelets. Thus, Xantus’s is deleted, Guadalupe takes the place of Xantus’s, and we get:

6. Scripps’s Murrelet.

The murrelet split and the five full-on additions raise the ABA Area checklist to 976.

Finally, the ABA Checklist Committee has done away with a “slash/combo”–the bane of every lister’s existence–on its checklist. The old Fea’s/Zino’s Petrel category is replaced with Fea’s Petrel. That results in no addition to the total number of entries on the checklist, even though it does permit listers to add a species (namely, Fea’s Petrel) to their ABA Area life lists.

The ABA Checklist has been revised to reflect these and other recent changes. Click here to view the complete Checklist.

The stories behind each of these seven entries are fascinating, and you are urged to read the thorough summary by committee chairpersons Jon Dunn and Dan Gibson and their colleagues on the committee.

Let’s discuss these checklist changes!

I’ll try to get the ball rolling with the two psittacids–Nanday Parakeet in Florida and Rosy-faced Lovebird in Arizona. In particular, I’d like to hear from folks who intend to go look for the birds. What are your plans? Also: Have any of you already seen these? If so, do you now add them to your life lists? Or, to count them, do you have to see them again, i.e., after the news?

Photo credit: Rosy-faced Lovebirds at Gilbert Water Ranch, Arizona, by Cindy Marple. 


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Ted Floyd

Ted Floyd

Editor, Birding magazine at American Birding Association
Ted Floyd is the Editor of Birding magazine, and he is broadly involved in other programs and initiatives of the ABA. He is the author of more than 100 magazine and journal articles, and has written four recent books, including an ABA title, the ABA Guide to Birds of Colorado. Floyd is a frequent speaker at birding festivals and state ornithological society meetings, and he has served on the boards of several nonprofit organizations. Mainly, he listens to birds at night.
Ted Floyd

Latest posts by Ted Floyd (see all)

  • Gotta love eBird

    Nanday Parakeet

    Rosy-faced Lovebird

  • Alright! The Rosy-faced Lovebirds can be found in most of the city parks around Phoenix, anywhere that has mesquite or palm trees works for them, and their raucous calls announce their presence well before they come into view.

    Here’s a post on the local Phoenix populations at Birding Is Fun:

  • Jon Mann

    Had fourteen Rosy-faced Lovebirds in my yard yesterday in South Scottsdale, where they nest in my neighbor’s Canary Date Palm

  • I suppose that I pay more attention to my eBird Life List than my ABA Life List. While I lived in Mesa, Arizona, Rosy-faced Lovebirds (then called “Peach-faced”)were regulars at my backyard feeder, in my neighborhood and at one of my all time favorite birding patches, the Gilbert Water Ranch. I had assumed that they were well established and already on the list. So I’m glad that the checklist committee has added this fascinating species so that it counts on my official ABA Checklist.

  • Ka-ching! Armchair lifer! Nanday Parakeets are very common in St. Augustine, Florida, especially in the residential area near the lighthouse.

  • The latest issue of the AZFO journal has a good article about the lovebird:

  • Morgan Churchill

    I had a flock of Rosy-faced Lovebird at Gilbert Water Ranch, where I understand they are pretty reliable, maybe 6 years ago.

    Didn’t really have time to look for Nanday Parakeet on my one trip to Florida, but hopefully next time.

  • Patrick

    Nice! I saw Nanday Parakeets in Clearwater, FL on a spring training baseball trip with some friends. It was just a chance sighting in some palms on the beach. Score!

  • I’m confused. My recollection is that according to the Florida checklist, Nanday Parakeets are only accepted in specific areas of the state. So, the flock I saw at a gas station in Broward County did not count. Has that changed? Or, is the ABA Checklist listing similarly geographically restricted?

  • Walter

    I’m surprised that the Southern California Nanday Parakeets weren’t included. They breed in several coastal canyons in the Santa Monica Mountains and are easily found at Leo Carrillo State Park and in Big Sycamore Canyon.

  • pleased to be able to find a variety of information on the birds of, happened to be looking for inspiration from the natural beauty and the birds singing, regards

  • Looking forward to hearing more about the additions, especially the Double-toothed Kite! Since that raptor occurs pretty far south of the Mexican-American border, I never expected that one. And, as if the regularly occurring Rosy Finch species werent enough of a challenge, now, we have another one to look for (or more likely take a remote chance at seeing a lost bird on some island in the Bering Sea.).

  • Jesse Ellis

    Great article. Thanks for posting that.

  • Jesse Ellis

    With regards to the overall question about whether to add previously seen taxa to your list, I favor respecting the biology over the list, with one exception. That is, if you saw what is now Guadalupe Murrelet in a way that you were able to tell it wasn’t Scripp’s, than you should add it to your list. When Winter Wren was split, I had no compunction about taking both taxa – I had seen the wrens in both east and west NA, and had heard both singing, and noted the differences.

    If you saw Nanday Parakeet back only a few years after they were introduced, however, that might be another matter, since at that point the population was not “established”. However, given that they are now accepted as established, they must have at some point started “establishing”… the question (for me) is where you would make that distinction. Northern Bobwhite in the upper Midwest are a perennial thorny issue in this respect, as well…

  • Michael Lester

    I had heard that exotic species were not “bankable” per ABA listing rules. So if someone sees a Rosy-faced Lovebird before, but not after, it was formally accepted by the ABA, it would not count on their ABA list. Native subspecies, on the other hand, I heard are “bankable.” So if one saw both Pacific and Winter Wren before, but not after, the split, both species would be considered countable for their ABA list and they would receive an “armchair tick”. Can anyone comment on this?

  • Calling Michael Retter!


    Michael will provide better details and stronger logic than I can, but, in a nutshell, the court’s interpretation is that restrictions, if any, imposed by the Florida Ornithological Society Records Committee (an outstanding organization, by the way) do not necessarily apply to your ABA Area list(s). As I understand the matter, you can count for your ABA list(s) Nanday Parakeets seen in Apalachicola, in Los Angeles, and even in Fargo. But you don’t have to. Conceivably, Donna could elect not to count those gas station Nandays, yet I might elect instead to count them.

    Even if we observed the same flock at the exact same time.


    Michael, can you tell us more?

  • Jeff Hopkins

    My spin is this: According to the ABA Recording Rules: “An introduced species may be counted only where and when it meets the ABA Checklist’s definition for being an established population.”

    Also, according to the webpage “Criteria for Determining Establishment of Exotics” there is a specific note that says “…during 2006, the CLC considered adding the Black-hooded Parakeet (Nandayus nenday) to the ABA Checklist based on a large and increasing population along the central Gulf coast of Florida. This species met all eight of the above criteria as an established exotic…”

    Since the rules say it needs to meet the criteria to be counted and the note says it met those criteria in 2006, and I saw Nanday Parakeet in the established area in Dec. 2008, I’m counting mine.

  • In what sense are they not included? The report states (p. 31), “An established exotic population in Florida (e.g., Pranty and Lovell 2004, 2011) provides the basis for the addition of this species to the ABA Checklist.”

    The court’s interpretation is that the Florida population provides the basis for the addition of the species to the Checklist, period; the committee’s action does not in any way prohibit the countability of the Nanday Parakeet outside Florida.

    Michael, do I have that right?

  • The court’s interpretation is likewise biological. With regard to the Nanday Parakeet, don’t those earliest (“founder”) parakeets count for something, biologically speaking? Populations have temporal as well as spatial components to them; those founders are part of the population that today we recognize as established.

  • Good question, Michael Lester, and I don’t know the answer to it.

    The only thing I can add is a point of procedure. If the “bankable” question has been addressed (Michael Retter, do you know?), then it would have been addressed by the ABA’s Recording Standards and Ethics (RSE) committee. The RSE committee makes the rules. The independent ABA Checklist Committee handles the biology (i.e., what species have occurred in the ABA Area). Of course, the rules and the biology often go hand in hand; but they don’t have to.

  • Morgan Churchill

    I prefer the rules clarification that an exotic is countable even before it is added, since you get into some weird logic such as “an exotic can’t be counted until it’s established, and only established exotics are added to the checklist, so the lovebirds you saw last week don’t count because they were not established. But the very same individual birds you saw this week can be counted, now that they are on the checklist.

    I do think countable exotics should only be counted for states where they are on the checklist. I wouldn’t feel comfortable counting a Nanday Parakeet or Budgerigar that I saw in Fargo, ND. Those obviously don’t belong to any sort of established population.

  • That’s correct, Ted. AS THE RULES ARE CURRENTLY WRITTEN, once it’s on the checklist, you can count it anywhere within the ABA Area, so long as according to the observer’s best judgement, the bird seen is from a population that meets the criteria for establishment. And whether the population meets those criteria is also up to the observer.

  • That’s correct. Once it’s on the list, it’s on the list. The only relevant “geographic restrictions” are the ones you wish to apply yourself. Furthermore, once it’s on the ABA list, state and provincial records committees (and what they do and don’t think) has absolutely nothing to do with whether you can count a particualr species on your ABA list.

    Watch your mailbox for the December Winging It, which features an article by Jeff Skrentny which picks apart the rules to determine “what counts” in the ABA Area.

  • I’ve seen a large flock of Nandays in Sycamore Canyon in CA’s Point Mugu State Park. I need to do some more research about that population before I feel comfortable counting them, but if I choose to do so, I’m completely within the ABA’s rules to do so.

  • It remains that 3000+ Rose-ringed Parakeets are ignored due to bias of the California bird record committee. This is rather bizarre when single to a few dozen birds are accepted. Psittacula krameri is established and viable in Bakersfield, California and needs to be recognized as such.

  • Nice photos of the kite in NAB not too many issues ago —

  • Anthony Hewetson

    Do you know, off the top of your head, when Rosy-faced Lovebirds made the grade. I saw them in Scottsdale, Arizona, as recently as 2009 and wonder whether I can throw them on my list without making another visit to Arizona.

  • Perhaps you should make an appeal to the ABA CLC. Or maybe you’re already done so?

  • Rob

    Got’em both a few years ago (2006 & 2008) and I’ll take ’em. And I’ve still got Egyptian Goose and a several others “in the bank” 🙂

  • No, I have not done that, I am unaware of the process. I would love to know how to appeal to the ABA CLC.

  • There is no formal process that I’m aware of. I’d suggest sending them an email. Their contact information should be listed in the November Birding.

  • Um, can we open up another can of worms?… 🙂

    Fea’s Petrel.

    I’m curious: How many of you view yourselves as beneficiaries of the change from Fea’s/Zino’s to Fea’s? Conversely: How many of you were already counting it as Fea’s? And I suppose: How many of you won’t count it as Fea’s until you see one, post-decision, and ID it as a Fea’s?

  • Bruce Barrett

    This brings to a head the relationship between the ABA and the various state lists.

    Here in California the state committee is very reluctant to add introduced birds to the state list, there being a residue NIB (No Introduced Birds) feeling. Nanday Parakeet is not on the state list. Several influential California birders still do not count any introduced birds in their lists – not even the starling! Others will not count anything on their ABA list unless the species has also been accepted by the state list.

    However, the ABA does not link the ABA list to state lists, such that counting a species for ABA purposes does not require that it be on the associated state list.

    Most state committees are self-appointed, with their “authority” stemming only from those birders and scientists who adhere to the state list. The committees devise their own rules, based on the biases of the committee members. This leads to differences in the rules, and thus the lists, state to state.

    This is a messy situation.

    Is it time for the ABA to take the lead in debating, and eventually proposing, a set of guidelines for state committees – and then linking ABA countability to state lists – at least for those states that comply. If it’s not on the (approved) state list, then you can’t count it on ABA.

    This would, of course, be a VERY contentious issue, but maybe one that needs addressing.

    Eventually, some states would comply, and change their lists, while others would decline, and become outlaws, to be effectively ignored, at least as far as ABA listing is concerned.

  • Jim Hayes

    Is the Asian Rosy Finch the one that is on the Pribaloffs? If so, that’s one more lifer.

  • Personally, I don’t want to see the ABA to be getting involved in the local politics of records committees. I’d prefer the status quo over that. And there’s the totally ridiculous result of *the same bird* becoming magically countable when it flies across an imaginary line. For instance, I saw Trumpeter Swans fly across the Mississippi River from MO to IL many years ago, when (according to the state committees) they weren’t countable in IL but were in MO. So if my hypothetical friend, who’s never seen a Trumpeter Swan before, doesn’t see them until after they fly into IL, she cannot count them? Insanity.

  • Morgan Churchill

    I don’t think the ABA should interfere with State Committees

    However I DO think ABA should be able to address checklist issues if there is a need.

    Is their anything in the ABA charter that prevents the ABA from assessing exotics that have not been assessed by state checklists?. Rose-ringed Parakeet comes to mind, and there are probably other parrots/exotics

    While we are at it, A lot of committees seem to ignore “ship-assisted birds”. From memory, ABA does not consider ship assistance to a priori prevent a bird from being added to the checklist. There are a few such records I would like to see ABA take a look at (Nazca Booby and Hooded Crow being at the top of those lists)

  • Jim Hayes

    Thanks for clearing that up.

  • Tal Roberts

    Here’s my eBird checklist from a couple of months ago…twenty-four Lovebirds at the NE corner of Dreamland Villa Golf Course (57th & Baltimore) in Mesa:

  • Pat, the story of the Double-toothed Kite is a 7 week story. I took those pictures around 9:45 Am on the morning of May 4, 2011 at High Islands Boy Scout Woods. The bird was sitting on a grapevine right above the boardwalk where it joins to what they call the cathedral area. I was walking back towards the entance when I looked up and saw this Hawk sitting there. I had only been birding about 2 years at that point and I honestly thought it was probably a Coopers Hawk because of the woods it was in and general size and shape. I stopped and took several photos and moved forward 3-4 times taking more shots and I was literally shooting almost straight up on the last ones. I walked on under the bird and stopped at the nearby photo blind and asked the two men inside if either of them wanted pictures of what I thought was a Coopers Hawk. One said yes and we stepped out of the blind and walked a few feet towards the bird and I stopped and pointed at it just in time for us to watch it jump and soar right over the photo blind. No pictures and a witness that at the time I did not know we needed and never found. That evening I sent a copy of it and a few other birds for ID help to a bird guide friend and got a very excited email from him the next morning wanting to know where I had photographed that bird. I told him and he asked if he could send a copy to someone for verification since he was sure it was a tropical species that should not be there. After 7 weeks and two tries and still no answer I started looking for help elsewhere. I came across the VIREO web site and sent a copy to them on the weekend. Monday morning I received a very excited email form a gentelman there who said he was not the Hawk expert but was 99% sure it was a Double-toothed Kite that should not have been anywhere near there. The next morning another email came to me saying it indeed was that species and it was an increduble find since one had never been seen in North America. I sent copies of those emails to the Houston Audubon since it was there property and that started the excitement all over. I was then contacted by Eric Carpenter of the TBRC. A couple of days later Martin Reid of the TBRC contacted me and he and I went to High Island to take perch verification pictures. With our laptop with the bird photos on it there was no problem matching where the bird was sitting. It turned out to be a good thing we got them because the drought of 2011 killed a couple of trees and some of the vines and they came down later that summer or fall. So that was the 7 week story.

  • Bob Zickus

    I have pics of Nanday parakeets in Clearwater Beach, inland not far from the pier.

  • Ted Floyd

    Wonderful report, David! And “perch verification pictures” is splendid. Birders…gotta love ’em.

  • Vincent Lucas

    Rose-ringed Parakeets have long been established in Naples, FL from where I recently moved. I have seen many juries of this species. The hurricanes of 2004 did a number on the species but they have recovered nicely. I’m surprised Pranty hasn’t gotten the ABA checklist committee to accept them since he’s one of them . . . .

  • Vincent Lucas

    Um, that was “juvies” not “juries”!

  • Jon Mann

    They were added to the Arizona list last December.

  • Jon Mann

    I agree with that.

    I have seen individual Budgerigars in the middle of farm land in Arizona – clearly a recent escapee, and not established, despite being on the ABA list.

    We have a small population of Nanday’s in Arizona, again, not countable IMHO.

  • Congrats on such an amazing find, David! The fellow at VIREO, however, made a common error that I remember seeing at the time this all happened. Double-toothed Kites are regularly found from southern Mexico south into South America. This includes southern Mexico through Panama, all of which is part of North America. So it’s not the first record for North America. It is, however, a first for both the U.S. and the ABA Area.

  • Anonymous

    An example of a state not adding an ABA-listed introduced species to its list is Louisiana. Monk Parakeets are well-established in New Orleans and Katrina did not come close to eliminating them from the area yet the LBRC just doesn’t want them on the state list.

  • Shelley Rutkin

    I have also heard that exotics are not “bankable”. Can we get clarification on this issue?

  • Derek Courtney

    Ted or Michael, is there any plan to put the details of the Checklist Committee’s decision on line? I’m thinking not of the CLC report as submitted to Birding, but the actual proposals and CLC members voting/comments. I think that would be both interesting and educational. Rejected proposals would be included as well, I should think. I say put it all out there in an easily accessible and archived location.

  • As many of us probably know, the American Ornithologists’ Union has been doing for its own Check-list deliberations precisely what Derek Courtney is requesting of the ABA committee. See:


    Derek, I’ll certainly pass along your suggestion to the ABA Checklist Committee.

  • Thanks for recounting that exciting story! What a record. It just goes to show that you never really know what might turn up at migration hotpots.

  • Thanks for the heads up Rick. I am kind of out of the loop…

  • Anon

    My take on whether you ‘can’ add a species to your list if the local BRC hasn’t accepted the species:

    Sure, you are ‘allowed’ to add anything you want – it is your list, etc.
    However, I’d recommend being a bit more critical in your personal list policing — when I come across a possible state bird sighting that is not accepted by the state BRC, I default to deferring to the BRC’s decision, unless and until I can come up with an argument that I find personally convincing for doing otherwise. No one is checking my decision, but it seems to work.

    If you visited an area and stumbled across an Nanday Parakeet, do some research on whether or not the bird records committee has expressed any opinion about the issue. Believe it or not, there is some thought put in to those decisions by the various BRCs. Does the BRC say ‘no’? Look for the reasoning why — if there is just some overall policy to not accept exotics [as has been noted in this comment thread for a few state BRCs], then I’d put less stock in the BRC decision. But if the BRC declined to add a species to the list for a more considered reason, then perhaps it is worth deferring to their knowledge over your own wishes to pad your list.

    In short, just because you can ignore the state BRC lists, I think you ought to have a line of reasoning to back up that move. My inclination is to give some credit to the committees as a starting point and consider it my job to overcome their objections before I add a species.

  • Well, there’s already been a lot said on the issue of “banking” exotics not yet considered “established” by the ABA, but I’ll throw in an opinion anyway.

    Of course, you can count anything you like on your list – this is just my opinion, that is, what I personally choose to count. I don’t count an “established exotic” unless (and until) I encounter it after it has been added to the checklist.

    Consider this hypothetical situation. I am driving down the road in, oh, let’s say, Truckee, CA, and I see a Scarlet Macaw fly out of an apartment building. Of course, I won’t count that on my ABA list. But it turns out that a few month’s later, another Scarlet Macaw escapes, and the two happen to meet up, and, well twenty years later, we’ve got a large population of Scarlet Macaws flying around Truckee. (Okay, Truckee is sometimes the coldest location in the nation, so maybe unlikely, but what with climate change and all..)

    Now it is 2035 and the ABA has just decided that Scarlet Macaws are, indeed, established in Truckee, and the species is added to the ABA checklist. Does it make sense for me to go back and count the one I saw flying out of the apartment building? (Oddly, I’ve not seen another one since then.)

    While my good friend Ted Floyd might say “yes”, I think most people would say “no”, that particular sighting shouldn’t count. That bird clearly was someone’s pet, not a “real” part of the avifauna of California. Or, at least, I would say that. So it comes down to a question of, “Okay, at what point can I count a Scarlet Macaw sighting?” At this stage of the game, the answer I’ve decided to live with is that, since there must be some arbitrary point along the way, the most logical point is when the ABA announces that they’ve added the species to the checklist.

    So, one of these days, on one of my highly enjoyable trips to Arizona, I’m going to go back to the Gilbert Water Park, see (and photograph) another Rosy-faced Lovebird (of which I’ve previously seen and photographed many), and happily add it to my ABA Life List (and ABA Photo List).

    Now, if I may be permitted to drag this out just a little further, I think it would be very nice if the Checklist Committee would take one additional step when adding an established species to the checklist. Since the research they are using to make their decision predates the date they add it to the list, couldn’t the committee provide an “established as of” date based on the research? Just a thought.


  • Good stuff, Martin, and I happily accede to the reality that most birders see it your way… 🙂

    Now what about Fea’s Petrel? That’s the one where I suspect there’s less agreement and less clarity about whether to tick earlier sightings. If you photographed a diagnostic Fea’s in 2011, does it count? If 10 years before that, in 2001, you saw a Fea’s that you recall was large-billed, does it count? If you saw a “Soft-plumaged Petrel” in 1991, back before anybody in North America really had much knowledge of Fea’s vs. Zino’s, does it count? And if you see on on a pelagic next year, i.e., in 2013, a bird that looks “pretty darned good” for Fea’s, do you count it, given today’s knowledge that the Fea’s/Zino’s/Desertas boundaries are a bit fuzzy?

    It’s one thing to “upgrade” the status (i.e., from Fea’s/Zino’s) on the ABA Checklist, as the ABA Checklist Committee has done. It’s quite another to pull the trigger, and put the bird on your personal list.

    As I see it, Fea’s/Zino’s was a relatively easy tick. Straight Fea’s, even though it’s a more elegant entry, is a bit more problematic, I would say.

    Martin? Anybody? Your thoughts on the countability of Fea’s Petrels, past, present and future?

  • Joshua

    One of the issues that I have with the terminology of the whole thing is “established”. Is this done by persistence, census, or a combination of the two? There have been hundreds (if not thousands) of Nandays for over a decade flying through Sarasota, St. Augustine, and a half dozen other places. Does anyone know where the cut off is? I live in FL, and there are a wealth of reports on the diversity of avian introduced species that have been here for years.

  • When is the new checklist going to be uploaded to the ABA website?

  • Jesse Ellis

    Only if you know they were the ones that did the “establishing”! That’s the problem as I see it.

  • Hey, everybody. Happy New Year, and a quick note here to let you know that the updated ABA Checklist is now available online. All of the changes mentioned in the post above are in there; so are many, many (did I say many?) more little clerical fixes (you know, the gender of the Purple Gallinule’s specific epithet, stuff like that…) that all add up.

    Do take a look, here:

  • Before I moved from southern California to southern Arizona in November 2001, I recorded Nanday Parakeets breeding in sycamore cavities in Zuma Canyon (Malibu) near Pt Dume for the Los Angeles County Breeding Bird Atlas – 15 or more years ago. I think they are quite well established along the southern California coast in that part of Los Angeles and adjacent Ventura County.

  • I too have seen/photographed the Nanday around SoCal for a while. Here is the bird in question, photographed a couple months ago at Paramount Ranch in Malibu


  • you are right sir

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