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ABA Checklist Committee Adds Rufous-necked Wood-Rail to ABA Checklist

The ABA Checklist Committee (hereafter, CLC) recently voted 8–0 to accept the Rufous-necked Wood-Rail to the ABA Checklist as a natural vagrant. As is well known, the wood-rail was observed by hundreds of observers at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico, 7–18 July 2013.

photo by Jeff Gordon

photo by Jeff Gordon

In October 2014, the New Mexico Bird Records Committee (NMBRC) voted 6–1 in second-round voting to accept the wood-rail as a natural vagrant. The first-round vote was the same 6–1; in both rounds, the dissenting voter believed that natural vagrancy was less likely than an escape or release from captivity. Within days of the NMBRC’s final decision, the CLC received the extensive file (227 pages) on the wood-rail and began deliberating. The first-round CLC voting results were 6–2 in favor of vagrancy; 7 or 8 “yes” votes are needed to accept a record. In December 2014, three CLC members cycled off the committee and were replaced by new members; the 2015 committee voted on the wood-rail in the second round. One of the concerns about accepting the wood-rail as a natural vagrant was the purported lack of vagrancy known in any species of Aramides. CLC member Tom Johnson provided the rest of the committee with a recent paper on a vagrant Little Wood-Rail (A. mangle) photographed in French Guiana, about 900 km north of its known range in northern Brazil, and this paper helped to allay remaining concerns about the wood-rail’s provenance.

More information about this and other recent CLC decisions will be published in the committee’s annual report, planned for the November–December 2015 issue of BIRDING.

Current members of the ABA Checklist Committee are Jessie Barry, Kimball Garrett, Tom Johnson, Aaron Lang, Ron Pittaway, Bill Pranty (chair), Peter Pyle, and David Sibley.

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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.
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