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ABA Checklist Committee Adds Egyptian Goose to ABA Checklist

Yesterday, the ABA Checklist Committee (CLC) unanimously (8–0) accepted the Egyptian Goose (Alopochen aegyptiaca) as an established exotic in southeastern Florida (Martin, Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami-Dade counties). The CLC vote was in response to a 6–1 vote by members of the Florida Ornithological Society Records Committee (FOSRC) to add Egyptian Goose to the official Florida bird list as an established exotic. Evidence to support establishment was provided by a paper by Bill Pranty and Valeri Ponzo to be published later this year in Florida Field Naturalist; the final draft of the manuscript was shared with members of the FOSRC and CLC.

Using observations from January 2012 to December 2013, Pranty and Ponzo tallied 1,204 geese at 181 separate locations in the southernmost four counties along Florida’s Atlantic coast. The size of the occupied range is about 1,900 square miles, consisting primarily of residential developments, city parks, and golf courses. Egyptian Geese have been resident in Martin County, Florida since 1994 (Braun 2004), and 77 breeding observations were compiled throughout Florida, with most of these recent (Pranty and Ponzo 2014).

Egyptian Goose nests

Egyptian Geese are established as a breeding bird across several south Florida counties including Palm Beach, where this photo was taken. photo by brhodes via wikipedia

Egyptian Geese are native to sub-Saharan Africa and the Nile River drainage. Exotic populations, originating from birds released as ornamental waterfowl, are widespread in Europe, with a recent estimate of 26,000 pairs, including more than 11,000 pairs in the Netherlands (Gyimesi and Lensink 2012). Egyptian Geese are found elsewhere in the ABA Area, such as Arkansas, California, central Florida, Texas, and other places, but those populations are not established (Pranty and Garrett 2011, Smith and James 2012, Pranty and Ponzo 2014). Nonetheless, birders should document the occurrence of Egyptian Geese outside of southeastern Florida as part of an effort to monitor populations of exotic birds—whether or not “countable”—throughout the continent.

The Egyptian Goose is species #986 on the ABA Checklist, an increase of five species since the CLC’s most recent published annual report (Pranty et al. 2013). Zino’s Petrel was added in November 2013, and three species were added in July 2014 based on taxonomic “splits” accepted by the American Ornithologists’ Union Committee on Classification and Nomenclature—North and Middle America (Chesser et al. 2014): Salvin’s Albatrosses (split with Shy [now White-capped] Albatross), Ridgway’s Rail (split with Clapper Rail), and Kamchatka Leaf Warbler (split with Arctic Warbler).

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Literature Cited

Braun, D. G. 2004. First documented nesting in the wild of Egyptian Geese in Florida. Florida Field Naturalist 32:138–143.

Chesser, R. T., R. C. Banks, C. Cicero, J. L. Dunn, A. W. Kratter, I. J. Lovette, A. G. Navarro-Siguenza, P. C. Rasmussen, J. V. Remsen, Jr., J. D. Rising, D. F. Stotz, and K. Winkler. 2014. Fifty-fifth supplement to the American Ornithologists’ Union Check-list of North American Birds. The Auk 131:CSi–CSxv.

Gyimesi, A. and R. Lensink. 2012. Egyptian Goose, Alopochen aegyptiaca: An introduced species spreading in and from the Netherlands. Wildfowl 62:126–143.

Pranty, B. and K. L. Garrett. 2011. Under the radar: “Non-countable” exotic birds in the ABA Area. Birding 43(5):46–58.

Pranty, B. and V. Ponzo. 2014. Status and distribution of Egyptian Geese (Alopochen aegyptiaca) in southeastern Florida. Florida Field Naturalist 42:in press.

Pranty, B., J. L. Dunn, K. L. Garrett, D. D. Gibson, M. J. Iliff, M. W. Lockwood, R. Pittaway, and D. A. Sibley. 2013. 24th report of the ABA Checklist Committee, 2013. Birding 45(6):30–37, 75–79.

Smith, K. G. and D. A. James. 2012. History and current status of Egyptian Goose (Alopochen aegyptiacus) in northwestern Arkansas. Journal of the Arkansas Academy of Science 66:200–204.

 

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Bill Pranty

Bill Pranty

Bill Pranty has lived and birded in central Florida for more than 35 years. Pranty’s studies emphasize the documentation of Florida’s diverse avifauna, with a focus on its exotic species. His research has added four species to the ABA Checklist—Egyptian Goose, Purple Swamphen, Nanday Parakeet, and Common Myna—all of them exotics from Florida. Pranty is chairman of the ABA Checklist Committee, and a technical reviewer for and frequent contributor to Birding magazine. He has written dozens of peer-reviewed ornithological papers and is the author or co-author of six books, among these a Birder's Guide to Florida, the ABA Checklist, and the ABA Field Guide to Birds of Florida.
  • Bill Pranty

    I should acknowledge the seven other current members of the CLC: Jessie Barry, Jon Dunn, Kimball Garrett, Dan Gibson, Mark Lockwood, Ron Pittaway, and David Sibley.

  • Ted Floyd

    In a span of less than three years, the ABA Checklist Committee has added these birds to the ABA Checklist: Nanday Parakeet, Purple Swamphen, Rosy-faced Lovebird, Scaly-breasted Munia (formerly known as Nutmeg Mannikin), and now Egyptian Goose.

    Exotics are finally getting their due… 😉

    Seriously, I applaud ABA Checklist Committee chairman and the entire committee for their energy and thoroughness.

    • Ted Floyd

      Oops. Deleted two words: …ABA Checklist Committee chairman BILL PRANTY and the entire committee…

  • Cory “Chia”Chiappone

    So if I saw an Egyptian Goose in Miami-Dade during 2012 is this countable?

    • Nick Block

      Hi Cory,
      Currently, there are no explicit rules addressing this important question. This question is the next recording-related item on the Recording Standards and Ethics Committee’s agenda, so you will hopefully have an answer relatively soon. For now, counting it is up to your own interpretation of the recording rules.
      Cheers,
      Nick Block
      Secretary, RSEC

      • Mark Brown

        Currently, there are no explicit rules. I humbly disagree. The current ABA rules state: “an introduced species may be counted only where and when it meets the ABA Checklist’s definition for being an established population.” So your where is right Miami Dade County but your when is not. 2012 versus 2014. Others disagree: Arguably, they should be countable from whenever Pranty & Ponzo conclude that the introduced population historically qualified as ‘established’, not just from the date of the CLC decision. But that is not how I read the current rule. See, http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=289781 .

        • Nick Block

          Yes, the rule says “when it meets the ABA Checklist’s definition of species,” so I should have been more clear. What I should have said is that there is no way to explicitly apply that rule to address Cory’s question. This is the case for most, if not all, of the introduced species accepted as established on the checklist, too. The date that the species was added to the Checklist does not reflect the date when the species met the criteria for being established. Unless the CLC publishes a specific date for each established population, we need a more general rule. That’s what the RSEC is working on right now.

          Any suggestions as to what that rule should say? I’d love to hear them (truly)! It’s not an easy problem to solve. I was thinking something like making an exotic countable if you saw an individual belonging to the population considered established by the CLC up to five years prior to it being added to the Checklist.

          • Bruce Barrett

            The wording is just fine, as is. Leave it to the individual lister to decide did the bird they saw meet the CLC guidelines where and when the saw it. Rather than a one-size-fits-all approach, the committee could add per-species guidelines on where and when each population is countable, at least until they become widespread.

          • Nick Block

            Thanks for your thoughts, Bruce! A per-species approach is also what I’m leaning towards now. I think it is just too difficult to have a general rule that some species or another will not conform to.

          • Kyle’s Floors & More

            “Established” is a generic term. It should mean the species has made this land its home. And Egyptian Gees have most definitely made their home in Broward County. In the last 2 years one pair has produced 2 clutches, all of which died (were eaten by local wildlife) within the first 2 days. TODAY this pair produced another clutch that seems to have better chances. Meanwhile last year another pair produced 7 babies. 2 were eaten the first day. The other 5 were successfully raised by the pair to this date. Since, a few other couples have made this area their home and at times we see a flock as large as 12. I would say Egyptian Geese are most definitely established.

  • AJ-birdwatcher

    I finally identified large flocks of Egyptian Geese on both the campus of FAU in Boca Raton and Boca Regional Hospital lakes. Is there a chance they might become nuisance species like the Muscovy Ducks?

    • Kyle’s Floors & More

      The word “nuisance” is ambiguous in the sense that, much like music, what I like you may consider “nuisance.” Some of us love our Muscovys. Likewise, we are learning to love Egyptian Geese. Yes, they are loud and territorial. However, they are absolutely beautiful and majestic! I have been observing them for 2 years and I enjoy it when they come to feed in the morning and in the evening. We greet each other like good old friends. They like to be around water, so they will probably stick to areas around lakes, ponds, and canals.

  • Richard

    I live in Wilton Manors, Florida. Yesterday I heard a strange noise (thought it was a neighbor’s alarm malfunctioning). Turned out to be an Egyptian Goose on top of their tiki hut. Another was on the grass. They spent the night in a vacant lot (used to be Gibby’s) across the river. I saw one of them fly off early this morning. Don’t know what happened to the other one.

  • Kyle’s Floors & More

    Today is a very sad day. Subject: Egyptian Geese. A pair that has produced 3 clutches in 2 years and has lost entirely the first 2 clutches within the first 2 days. Dec. 31st we were blessed with a new clutch of 9. On Jan. 1st there were only 8. On the 2nd we were down to 7. We had 7 up until this morning. During the day the parents would spend their time in our backyard, which is a fairly safe area. At night they would disappear and return around 6:30 am. Today they returned with just one chick. Then they left the chick next to me and kept flying back towards a nearby road, and back to the chick. I decided to see what was going on. The missing babies were run over by the morning traffic.The parents were in PAIN and so am I. What a loss! What can be done to protect these beautiful birds?

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  • daniela

    There is any conservationist organization to call to help a couple of Egyptian geese (laying eggs)?, people want to kill the eggs. Sunrise, FL.

  • Neva Kubik

    I saw a pair yesterday in Lake Worth! So pretty!

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