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Your Voice, Your Vote: Will We Add Hawaii to the ABA Area?

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Will it be yea, yea or Nene? It's time to vote on adding Hawaii to the ABA Area. Nenes (Hawaiian Geese), Hawaii's State Bird, by USFWS.

Will it be, “Yea, yea,” or “Nene?” It’s time to vote on adding Hawaii to the ABA Area. Nenes (Hawaiian Geese), Hawaii’s State Bird, by USFWS.

ABA members, it’s time for your voices to be heard and your votes to be counted.

If you are a current member, you will soon receive a proxy ballot in the mail, or may have recently received one. In addition to a fine slate of board candidates, there is a proposed change to the ABA Bylaws Section 8(b) which would add Hawaii to the ABA Area.

The question of adding Hawaii to the ABA Area, the area covered by the ABA Checklist and the basis for many of the lists kept by birders throughout the United States, Canada, and beyond, is one that has been debated at length, including numerous times right here on this blog. The matter was even a key part of a non-binding referendum we sent to the membership in 2012, where 53% of ABA members responding favored adding Hawaii, versus 36% who opposed it (7% were neutral; 4% did not indicate a preference).

We are now officially calling that question. It’s time for you–if you are an ABA Member in good standing as of October 28, 2016–to vote to officially revise the ABA’s Bylaws to add Hawaii to the ABA Area, or to stick with the current definition.

The ABA Board of Directors and I, the ABA President, hope that you will vote “Yes” to accept Hawaii into the ABA Area. We believe that not only is this the best course of action for the ABA community, it is also the one most likely to benefit Hawaii’s magnificent and imperiled native birds, which are a local, national, and global treasure.

But ultimately, it is up to you, the ABA membership. So we’re putting up this blog post as a place for you to ask questions, and to voice your support or opposition. The only rule is to keep things civil and respectful.

I encourage you to review and consider a couple of things before making your vote. First, go over to aba.org/proxy, where you’ll find a number of things worth your time, which are also linked to here, for convenience. There is a copy of the ballot, and links to my August 2016 “Birding Together” column, which tries to answer some of the common questions about how the addition of Hawaii would proceed. For example, would we still have an ABA Continental Area that would have the same boundaries as the current ABA Area? The short answer is yes.

In addition, I recommend reading “The Case for Hawaii’s Birds,”  by Cameron L. Rutt, John C. Mittermeier, and Alex X. Wang, also published in the August 2016 issue of Birding. It’s an excellent summary and review of many of the arguments that have been advanced about Hawaii and the ABA Area. It is decidedly in favor of adding Hawaii, but the authors examine and answer the main arguments against in a serious and respectful way.

Also over at aba.org/proxy, you’ll find information about attending the ABA’s annual membership meeting, where the final votes will be cast and tabulated. If you’re anywhere near ABA headquarters in Delaware City, Delaware, we would be delighted to have you join us there. Please do RSVP, either by filling out this short online form, or by calling us at 800-850-2473.

So, we want to hear from you. Here on the blog, in person, and/or by proxy. Please let us know if you are an ABA member in your comment. And remember, while only ABA members can vote, we welcome discussion from the entirety of the birding community.

So how will you cast your vote? However you do, all of us at the ABA are grateful for your support of the organization and for the opportunity to serve you and the entire ABA community.

The proposed change to the ABA Bylaws Section 8(a).

The proposed change to the ABA Bylaws Section 8(a).

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Jeff Gordon

Jeff Gordon

Jeff Gordon is the president of the American Birding Association. There's very little about birds, birding, and birders that he doesn't find fascinating, though he's especially interested in birding culture and the many ways we all communicate our passion for birds, including this Blog.
  • Cliff Hawley

    FINALLY! If I was loaded I would buy a ton of gift memberships for friends and family and have them all vote yes too.

  • Morgan Churchill

    So one question: Does Hawaii in this case include Midway? I know all the surrounding islands are considered Hawaii, making it really odd to exclude Midway. I mean it is part of the chain. The current ballot proposal isn’t clear on that.

    • Morgan, if the membership approves this Bylaws change, it will be up to the ABA Checklist Committee and the ABA Recording Standards and Ethics Committee, working with the oversight of the board and the input of the membership to determine the exact boundaries of Hawaii as regards the ABA Area. My understanding, from discussions with representatives of those bodies, is that the likely preference would be for the ABA to adopt the same boundaries as Hawaii birders commonly do; i.e., the Hawaiian Islands, including Midway. But that isn’t set in stone. I would be very surprised to find that the inclusion or exclusion of Midway changes anyone’s vote on the larger question, but I’d be happy to hear comments or discussion on the matter.

      • Morgan Churchill

        Thanks for the reply. I figured that would be the likely case, but figured I should just raise that up here.

      • Rick Wright

        I’d assumed that Hawaii would be defined by the boundaries of the state of Hawaii. It’s like that for the other 49, no?

        • Jason Crotty

          This is a fair point worthy of consideration.

          The other non-state territory — Washington DC — appears to be separately enumerated in the current and proposed bylaws, suggesting that territories ought to be specifically identified for inclusion. (Why it is included I do not know, as I don’t think anyone thinks that DC is not part of the “continental United States.)

          This language arguably suggests that the boundaries are set by Hawaii as a political entity and are not susceptible to interpretation. It is not clear to me why the committee would be able to convert something that is not Hawaii into Hawaii any more than it can determine that Virginia includes DC.

          If Midway is truly not part of Hawaii, perhaps that is something that can be fixed at the annual meeting. This language might not do what it is supposed to do, namely allow flexibility for a committee to determine what Hawaii is.

    • Lance Tanino

      I hope Midway Atoll is included too. Despite being in a different time zone (same as Samoa Time Zone) than Kure Atoll (Hawaii Standard Time; 57.2 miles west and closer to the International Date Line than Midway), it is still a part of the Hawaiian Islands archipelago.

      • Doug Pratt

        The ABA could have spared us a lot of this discussion if they had simply said “the Hawaiian Islands” instead of “Hawaii”. I assume that’s what they meant, and so Midway would be included. It is also not a foreign country and well within the 200-mile limit for the State of Hawaii. Midway has a convoluted political history, and might even eventually be ceded to Hawaii by the Federal government. It is also the only real window to the fauna of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, which is distinctly different from that of the main islands. The other islands can be visited only by researchers with special permits, but Midway, for a while at least, was open to the public. Budget cuts have eliminated that possibility, but it could come back in the future. The USFWS is operating it as a showcase for the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument.

  • Mel Goff

    When the non-binding vote on the inclusion of Hawaii was taken in 2012, I was helping to count the ballots at the ABA’s headquarters then in Colorado Springs. Some of the objections to the addition were quite well thought out. Others were rather emotional. A few were just silly, in my mind. To say “I’ve never been to Hawaii” as opposition is no different than saying “I’ve never been to Adak or Maine”. The birds of the islands are beautiful, sometimes exotic, and always captivating. The birders of Hawaii are friendly, fun to bird with, and American. I will vote to add Hawaii to the ABA area. What could be more American.

  • David Simpson

    Hell NO!! Ecologically, Hawaii has little to do with the rest of the ABA area. It makes more sense to include Greenland in the ABA area than Hawaii. What’s next, Puerto Rico, Midway Islands, U.S. Virgin Islands, all because they happen to wave the same flag? What about all those who have spent decades and life savings vying to be in the upper levels of the ABA Listing game? Now they all have to go to Hawaii to maintain that status? No doubt, it would give a bump to tourism in Hawaii and maybe even increase conservation efforts for the few endemics left on the island chain. I don’t have a problem with any of that, but it’s not the prerogative of the ABA to boost Hawaiian tourism. Vote No people, use your heads! Hawaii in the ABA area just doesn’t make any sense.

    • Mike E

      Two minor responses: 1) Canada does not wave the same flag. ABA is “American” Birding Association; 2) The northwest coast of Alaska and the Aleutians have less to do ecologically as well but what does that have to do with it?

      • David Simpson

        Canada doesn’t wave the U.S. flag and the Aleutian Islands are ecologically different? The first point is just silly and doesn’t deserve a response. As to the second, the northwest coast of Alaska is part of North America. The Aleutian Islands are also considered part of North America and are at least somewhat connected to the mainland, although the further out you go, the more Asian they become. At any rate, it makes much more sense to include Attu and the western islands than the Hawaiian archipelago.

        • Peter Thompson

          I agree with David. All of the ABA right now is more or less the same land mass, and Hawaii is incredibly far away from this mass – adding Hawaii should require the addition of other Pacific islands, which is ludicrous.

    • Michelle Soup

      Why doesn’t it make sense to add the Hawaiian Islands into ABA area? It’s an American State! And what wrong with Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands? They’re part of America too and should be treated as equals to the mainland. They didn’t necessarily have to be part of America but we conquered the territory anyway so we may as well include them as part of the ABA area.

      • David Simpson

        Because Hawaii is nowhere near and has little to do with the ecology of the rest of the ABA Area. It actually makes less sense to include areas like Hawaii, Puerto Rico, etc. simply because they happen to be in the same country. The current ABA Area is about as sensible as it can be when considering political and biogeographical boundaries. For the most part, it is the continental U.S. and Canada. Yes, there are two little French islands, so what? Yes, Attu is far closer to Asia than mainland Alaska, so what? Yes it barely clips some Central American ecosystems that creep into the southwestern states, so what? You can nitpick about the imperfections of the current ABA Area all day long, but the bottom line is it makes the most sense.

        • Michael Retter

          Central American ecosystems in the southwest (US)? Do you mean Mexican ecosystems? (Mexico is not part of Central America.)

          • Michelle Soup

            Well technically Central America isn’t a real continent so it’s really up to interpretation as to what is considered as Central America. However, I know Mexico is sometimes included as part of “Central America”.

          • Michael Retter

            Mexico S of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec (10–15% of the country) is sometimes included in a biogeographical definition of Central America, but the entire country of Mexico is never properly considered part of Centra America, and the ecosystems being described above are not found in that portion of Mexico.

          • Michelle Soup

            ah alright then, didn’t know that

          • Michael Retter

            This can be a confusing topic, Michelle, as there’s a lot of misinformation swirling around. The wikipedia article on this topic is very good, though, if you’d like to read more. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Central_America

          • Michelle Soup

            thanks man!

        • Michelle Soup

          So what? All I’m saying is that I think the ABA should include Hawaii as part of the ABA area because it will definitely help boost conservation efforts in Hawaii because the ABA has such a big impact on the birding community.

          Also if America payed for Attu as part of Alaska then it still counts as America.

    • Cory “Chia”Chiappone

      Why shouldn’t Guam and American Samoa be included too

      • The short answer is that they are neither states, provinces, nor territorial enclaves.

        The longer answer is that if enough members wanted to propose adding Guam or Samoa, and went through the motions of putting a proposal to do so on a ballot to go before the membership, and if that proposal received a majority of votes from the membership, then they should be added. But there is currently no impetus to do so at this time.

  • Alex Capaldi

    Am I missing something, or can we not vote online? Why the snail mail only?

    • Alex, you’re not missing anything, unfortunately. I can tell you that we would LOVE to have online voting. Unfortunately, it’s not as straightforward nor as inexpensive as it might seem. So for now, you can download the form, but you have to mail it back.

      • Alex Capaldi

        Oh well. Will do. Thanks for the reply! 🙂

      • David Simpson

        We’re going to vote like it’s 1999!

  • Peter Thompson

    Note the fact that the proposed change changes “North America”

    • Peter Thompson

      to “ABA Area”. This is a clear indication that it doesn’t make any geographic sense to add Hawaii into the ABA Area. Personally I don’t believe it’s beneficial, as Hawaii’s political position as a U.S. state should not affect an ornithological and geographical region.

      • Morgan Churchill

        Actually, given that Large chunks of North America are not currently (cough “central America” cough) included it makes more sense to not make NA = ABA. Even from a biogeographic standpoint, the Nearctic which includes the ABA area also includes Northern Mexico. Biogeographically the ABA as traditionally defined never made any sense

        • Doug Pratt

          Morgan is exactly right. The ABA is not and has never been “an ornithological and geographical region”. Once you stop at the Mexican border, you have defined the area as a political one that follows political lines on the map. To make sense as a political unit, it must include all of the United States and Canada, plus a couple of enclaves like St. Pierre & Miq (part of France) and Midway (a US possession not included in a state).

          • David Simpson

            The ABA area is a blend of political and biogeographic regions. Thus it is perfectly fine to include the continental U.S. but not the outlying islands, states, etc. Hawaii, while politically part of the U.S., has very little to do with the ecology of the rest of the current ABA area. Same can be said for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands which have more in common with the ABA area than Hawaii. And please don’t bring up the Attu argument. Attu island is in the Bering Straights, just like the mainland of Alaska, it is near the Arctic Ocean, just like mainland Alaska, and is politically part of Alaska. It has no real relevance to the addition of Hawaii.

        • Elisabeth Ammon

          That’s the key point in my book – folks assume there is a biogeographical consensus on the ABA domain. It’s clearly a political one. And why does that bother folks, is my question? If there is one set of birds that would benefit from the attention by ABA members it’s the Hawaiian ones for conservation benefits, and yes, that may not be the objective of an individual birder, but it should be at least ONE factor for the whole ABA. Others have gone on about how the biogeographical argument doesn’t work, so I won’t repeat those points.

  • Jason Crotty

    Apologies for what might be a silly question, but why doesn’t the ABA Area simply include all of America for membership purposes — which would include Hawaii and territories including Puerto Rico and USVI — while members could choose from a number of counting areas, whether they be the classic ABA Area, the expanded list, a USA list, etc. Why does there need to be just one formal ABA Area when much of the listing action actually appears to be state and county, not ABA Area. Listing Central is more expansive than the one ABA Area, as is Milestones in Birding magazine — why the big debate about “the” ABA Area? The current and proposed areas are indefensible from both ecological and political perspectives, such that I can bird in Virgin Islands National Park and that won’t count but birding in a tiny slice of France does count. And, of course, ecological borders are not political borders.

  • Eric VanderWerf

    Regarding the inclusion of Midway, the Hawaii Bird Records Committee defines their area of jurisdiction as the Hawaiian Islands, not just the State of Hawaii, so it includes Midway and offshore waters up to 200 miles. If Hawaii is accepted, it would make sense to conform the revised ABA boundaries with those.

  • Carl

    Maybe something to consider is that even if you get to Hawaii, you may not get a chance to even look for some of the native birds. A couple of species (namely the ‘Akepa on Hawaii and the Parrotbill on Maui) are only found on one preserve that is totally closed to the public. Even the monthly tours onto these preserves have stopped to reduce the chance of spreading Rapid Ohia Death (ROD). The birds on Kauai can only be accessed by driving down a road that is rained out for more than half of the year and even then their ranges have reduced so much that they are almost entirely within a private preserve. You can travel the 2,000 miles out there, but may still not be able to travel the last few to look for the birds.

    • Lance Tanino

      Wouldn’t it be possible to make the same argument for those that get to any of those remote islands in Alaska? You could travel all those miles out there but may still not be able to travel due to weather or those Asian vagrants may be missed.

      • Carl

        I guess one could. What’s different about the HI birds is that they are always (for now) there and should be at least semi-accessible to the public. It is hard to compare with finding vagrants in the Aleutains where a bird could be on the island for days and still be missed even with good birder coverage. Weather is something that no one can control, but allowing access to birders onto a preserve is. Hopefully if Hawaii is added into the ABA more people could get into these preserves, but that seems doubtful to me.

        You live on the islands, so I would be interested to hear your opinion. Personally I am in favor for adding the islands into the ABA.

        • Morgan Churchill

          Well…the conservation of individual species is more important than a check on a list. But hopefully a tad more attention paid to these birds maybe raises their awareness and moves some conservation funding there way. which may lead to further recovery (and viewing opportunities!)

          FYI there are a few current ABA birds I would say are comparable. Until recently California Condor wasn’t countable anywhere. And there are extirpated species like Thick-billed Parrot that are native but no longer have populations within the ABA region.

          • Carl

            I totally agree. I do think that being able to view these birds would help with their conservation. Charge a fee into the preserves, encourage people to donate. I believe that awareness for the birds could be generated easier if people could actually see the birds. But of course the birds come first and if the population is so fragile that the public can not come in contact with it, than that is just how it is.

          • Cliff Hawley

            You can visit the preserves that hold the Kiwikiu (Maui Parrotbill) and Akohekohe (Crested Honeycreeper) on Maui. You have to arrange access with the Nature Conservancy who owns the property but there is one scheduled trip per month and with more demand from paying visitors they might allow more entry. Obviously strict biological protocols are in place because of Rapid Ohia Death (ROD) and I would advise you not to visit the Big Island before going to Maui or you aren’t getting in there.

    • Alex Wang, ABA member

      A valid point, and admittedly the birds are getting more and more difficult to see as time goes on due to climate change induced range contraction. Especially on Kauai where the populations are dwindling rapidly. But while, you are correct that the Kiwikiu (Maui Parrotbill) is most accessible from just one reserve that is not the case for the Akepa. Akepa are freely accessible to all the public from Pu’u O’o trail, where I saw it along with Hawaii Creeper and Akiapola’au last weekend. They are also relatively abundant in the upper portions of Pu’u Maka’ala Natural Area Reserve and can be seen on private land owned by Kamehameha schools for participants of the annual Christmas Bird Count. They also persist (albeit in small numbers) on the Kona side of the island. So just a nitpicky clarification that Akepa are not found on just one reserve (i.e. Hakalau NWR). The point of your argument is understood. I agree there can be rather limited public access to endemic birds, especially on Maui. But I think if there was greater demand, that might change. Access in some places is getting better. For instance, just last month a ‘Palila Discovery Trail’ was created and I had the pleasure of seeing Palila on it also last weekend.

    • KR

      Sadly, there are a great number of U.S. birders who are unaware of the slimness of these populations, or even that a bird species in their own country went extinct in 2004. The lack of conservation attention that Hawaii receives is an embarrassment in a country such as the United States. Federal spending is up to about 18% of the total “bird budget” for endangered Hawaiian birds but even two years, that number was closer to 6-7%. When compared to spending on relatively stable threatened or endangered mainland species (ie Red-cockaded Woodpecker, Golden-cheeked Warbler, Bald Eagle, Marbled Murrelet, etc.), it is indefensible that species with populations less than a thousand may be allocated dollar amounts which are sometimes less than a hundred bucks! (see this article for an interesting rundown of species and spending amounts in 2008 http://www.cfr.washington.edu/classes.esrm.458/Leonard_2008.pdf)

      Within a country that has the capacity to move immense amounts of money toward all sorts of varied causes, there doesn’t seem to be an excuse for Hawaiian native birds to essentially be ignored to extinction – yet this has happened repeatedly within our lifetimes. The members of the ABA should do whatever they can to bring more awareness and attention to these critically endangered birds. Surely its easy to see that any reservations about checklists, Big Years, “biogeography,” traditions, or other constructs pale in comparison to the very real consequences from us continuing to turn our heads the other way.

  • Nicholas Sly

    I’d just like to respond to the notion in the Birding article that the Hawaiian avifauna is largely Nearctic in origin and thus closely allied to current ABA-area birds. I quickly ran through the literature I could find for all of the endemic lineages on Hawaii, and I found that this is really not the case. The endemic species/subspecies on Hawaii comprise at least 15 independent colonizations. Of those, three are Nearctic in origin, three are Neotropical in origin, seven are Asian or Australian in origin, and two are unknown or ambiguous. I outline each below:

    Nearctic colonizations (3):
    Nene (along with several extinct geese) – derived from a Canada Goose-like ancestor (Paxinos et al. 2002)
    Hawaiian Gallinule – embedded within Common Gallinule
    Hawaiian Coot – sister species to American Coot
    [I could not find published papers on the genetic affinities of Hawaiian Coot or Hawaiian Gallinule, but genetic barcodes for both exist on Genbank. I downloaded them, along with COI barcodes for all the other members of their genera, and ran a quick-and-dirty neighbor-joining tree to see their relationships]

    Neotropical colonizations (3):
    ‘io (Hawaiian Hawk) – The biogeographic origin here is somewhat ambiguous to me, but it is sister to a clade containing several neotropical hawks and Swainson’s Hawk (Amaral et al 2009). Since Swainson’s Hawk is nested within the Neotropical species, I think it is reasonable to assume both Hawaiian Hawk and Swainson’s are derived from Neotropical origin ancestors
    Mohoidae – most closely related to the Central American silky-flycatchers and the caribbean Palmchat (Fleischer et al. 2008)
    Myadestes solitaires – Solitaires include just one Nearctic species (Townsend’s) and several Central and South American and Caribbean species. The Hawaiian group of species are most closely related to the central American and Caribbean species, not the Nearctic one (Miller et al. 2007)

    Asia/Australia/Oceania (7):
    Hawaiian and Laysan Duck – These species are most closely related to the group of asian mallard-like ducks, like spot-billed and philippine duck (Gonzalez et al. 2009, Lavretsky et al 2014)
    Laysan Rail + Hawaiian Rail – two independent colonizations from Australasian relatives (Slikas et al 2002)
    ‘alala – sister species to the old world Rook and related to a clade of old world ravens, not new world crows (Jonsson et al. 2012)
    ‘elepaio – Monarchid flycatchers, old world origin
    millerbirds – Acrocephalus warblers, old world origin
    Hawaiian Honeycreepers – By a huge margin the most diverse colonization of species in Hawaii. Descended from Asian Rosefinches, not New World finches (Lerner et al. 2011)

    Unknown (2) :
    Pueo (Hawaiian Short-eared Owl) – a species found in North America, East Asia, and the Neotropics. I would not assume any particular origin route until it receives a solid phylogeographic study (none that I could find)
    Hawaiian Stilt – no genetic study that I could find. Species limits in Himantopus have changed a lot, and I personally really wouldn’t put much faith in the fact that it is currently listed as a subspecies of the New World stilts, until it receives more genetic study.

    So, in terms of both number of colonization events, and absolutely in terms of species diversity, the ABA area (aka Nearctic) has had the least impact among all the biogeographic regions contributing to the Hawaiian avifauna. I wouldn’t use this argument to make the case for adding Hawaii to the ABA area.

    • Morgan Churchill

      I think it’s more that groups have closer connections to North America than they do Polynesia/Australasia.

      • Nicholas Sly

        You can split it however you want, I just wanted to lay out the actual numbers here. Even if you just lump it as Old World vs New World, it’s pretty much even in terms of number of colonization events and still weighted heavily Old World in terms of numbers of species (because of the Honeycreepers, mostly).

    • Doug Pratt

      Your last paragraph is demonstrably untrue. I’m writing a detailed rebuttal, but could not find many of the references you cite. How about a proper Lit. Cit.? You can send that to me off the blog (dpratt14 AT nc.rr.com) if you prefer. In general, I note that whenever you have a choice of calling something Nearctic or something else, you always choose the alternative. That’s called spin in politics. I think I can convince you that Hawaii is, in fact, Nearctic.

      • Nicholas Sly

        Oh please, spin? I wrote this to combat the obvious spin in the Birding article. I wanted to do this by the numbers and just lay out all the lineages, systematically. Where there is uncertainty, I’ve noted it. If you choose to count the beans in a different way, and say the Neotropical origin clades are Nearctic, or something, feel free to post that version of the totals. However, if I have missed any papers that prove alternative results, I will happily change my tune. I’m particularly keen to find phylogeographic work on Short-eared Owl and Himantopus, but there doesn’t seem to be any.

        Here’s the reference list. If you or anyone else doesn’t have access to the pdfs and want them, I can email any of them, no problem.

        Paxinos et al. (2002) mtDNA from fossils reveals a radiation of Hawaiian geese recently derived from the Canada goose (Branta canadensis). PNAS 99:1399-1404
        Amaral et al. (2009) Patterns and processes of diversification in a widespread and ecologically diverse avian group, the buteonine hawks (Aves, Accipitridae). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 53:703-715.
        Fleischer et al. (2008) Convergent evolution of hawaiian and australo-pacific honeyeaters from distant songbird ancestors. Current Biology 18:1927-1931.
        Miller et al. (2007) Historical biogeography of the New World solitaires (Myadestes spp). The Auk 124:868-885.
        Gonzalez et al. (2009) Phylogenetic relationships basedo n two mitochondrial genes and hybridization patterns in Anatidae. Journal of Zoology 279:310-318.
        Lavretsky et al. (2014) Phylogenetics of a recent radiation in the mallards and allies (Aves: Anas): inferences from a genomic transect and the multispecies coalescent. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 70:402-411.
        Slikas et al. (2002) Rapid, independent evolution of flightlessness in four species of Pacific Island rails (Rallidae): an analysis based on mitochondrial sequence data. Journal of Avian Biology 33:5-14.
        Jonsson et al. (2012) Brains, tools, innovation and biogeography in crows and ravens. BMC Evolutionary Biology 12:72
        Lerner et al. (2011) Multilocus resolution of phylogeny and timescale in the extant adaptive radiation of Hawaiian Honeycreepers. Current Biology 21:1838-1844.

        • Doug Pratt

          Thanks, Nicholas. Could you send me pdfs of Jonsson, Lavretsky, Gonzalez, Amaral, and Paxinos? I’ll get back to you tomorrow or when I have had time to go through these. I will add here that you overlooked several lineages known from fossil remains as well as the Black-crowned Night Heron (same subsp. as western Americas). They all count. The reason you haven’t seen any genetic studies of Short-eared Owl and Hawaiian Stilt is that no one wants to waste expensive lab resources and time on two lineages whose relationships are obvious. The owl, despite being a named subsp., is a recent colonizer from California. The stilt is possibly an endemic species (barely), but obviously very close to Black-necked. Score 3 more for Nearctic.

  • Nate Dias

    * Something important I have not seen mentioned yet: it seems VERY unfair to past ABA area listers, or those who are now too elderly or infirm to make long flights, to RADICALLY “move the goalposts” so far into the game!

    This potential moves flies in the face of fairness and equity in terms of listing (which is one of the main underpinnings of the ABA and one of its main membership draws).

    • Rick Wright

      But Nate, the point isn’t to add potential checkmarks to a list, which you have to admit is a pretty absurd reason to do anything. It’s about including HI, its birds, and its birders in a way that, say, the United States of America did nearly 60 years ago. Any argument based on the “listing” aspects of this decision seems pretty trivial, a return to the silly short-sightedness that excluded HI in the first place when the ABA Area was set up.

      • Nate Dias

        So Rick, are you saying listing is trivial / unimportant in the scheme of things as far as the ABA is concerned?

        • Rick Wright

          I don’t speak for the ABA. But as far as my relationship to the ABA is concerned, yes, entirely trivial.

          • Nate Dias

            Wow – that’s not my perception of things!

            The fact that the ABA has put forth so much listing-related effort, publications and digital infrastructure certainly contradicts your assertion.

            Many, if not most, ABA members I know say one of the main reasons they join is for being in the listing rankings and to see the competition, etc. Back when I cared more about listing, it was the main reason I was an off-and-on member…

            I am not saying this about Rick in particular – but anyone asserting that not many people join the ABA (at least partially) for listing reasons is like saying people buy Playboy for the political articles and interviews.

          • Morgan Churchill

            My sense is that ABA is, at least nowadays, more a general advocacy group for birding. Listing is part of that but maybe not the most important aspect.

    • Greg Neise

      Nate, I think that’s absolutely not true, and we can look at the current ABA Big Year efforts as an example. After Sandy Komito’s now infamous 1998 Big Year, the “common wisdom” was that it would never be beat, or if so, by an extremely small margin, because Attu had become a much more difficult proposition.

      But let’s fast forward to now. Attu has nothing, or very little, to do with the fact that the 1998 record of 748 species (and Neil Hayward’s 2013 record of 749) will likely be beat 20 or more species.

      The reason? In a nutshell, smartphones. Should we ban the use of smartphones to make things fair and equitable?

      • Nate Dias

        Greg – I was thinking of life lists more than big year efforts.

        But your “advancing technology” argument still falls flat when only considering big years. Technological advancements have always improved lister efforts and been part of the game. Examples: better optics (particularly spotting scopes), better playback equipment, NARBA coming on the scene, better weather forecasts, better transportation options, even email – the list goes on and on. Birding technology has been evolving and progressing LONG before smartphones or eBird.

        But enlarging the playing field so much and so far into the game is inherently unfair to previous generations of listers.

        And where would this desire to expand the playing field end? As Laurent says, why stop at Hawaii – are Puerto Rico, Midway, Guam, the US Virgin Islands, and even Guantanamo Bay (for military birders) next? By the “pro-adding Hawaii” crowd’s arguments they should be added too, in order to avoid inconsistency.

        But that would be even more unfair to birders of the past (and present and perhaps future until all the changes were made).

        • Morgan Churchill

          eh…I find slippery slope arguments not very persuasive. All of those other territories are not US states (and realistically, given current politics here and abroad, are probably not going to be states in the near future). We can cross that bridge when we come to it, if a large faction of the current membership wants to add Puerto Rico and if there is vocal support from the Puerto Rican birding community.

          As for fairness…I mean listing was never fair. if we wanted a fair checklist the ABA would have fixed their taxonomy back at the dawn of the organization, and the ABA would have made their focus on native species, and not hunting down every single vagrant. After all, vagrant chasing by it’s very nature favors the rich or those with a lot of free time. Listers who have neither, because they are buried in student debt or find their time taken up by building careers or families, are not able to compete on the same playing field. At least Hawaii is a destination he could convince his nonbirding partner to visit during their precious vacations

        • Tracy Farrington

          Nate–Time marches on and eventually we will all be rendered infirm and our radius of activities diminished. While the addition of new countable territory may limit some, it expands opportunities for many more to experience the challenges and rewards to be obtained through this fine “treasure hunt”. I’ve yet to bird the interior of the big island. I need little in the way of an excuse to get there, but if the ABA ads the islands, that will be just a bit more of an incentive.

        • Cliff Hawley

          Except that Puerto Rico, Guam, and the US Virgin Islands are not states. Hawaii should have been included from the beginning.

    • Andy Boyce

      Is the latter statement actually true? Is ABA-area listing one of the main membership draws? Honest question, but I’d be surprised and super disappointed if so.

  • Rick Wright

    Will joint members be getting two ballots?

    • The ballots–printed and the PDF–have a second space for joint memberships to register a second vote.

  • Todd Pepper

    Never mind about the “listing game”, Hawaii is not physically or ecologically connected to the current ABA area that encompasses 2/3rds of continental North America and the islands, such as Newfoundland, St. Pierre, and Michelin, that are geographically part of the North American continent. All of the reasons for not including Mexico as part of the ABA birding region, i.e. it’s different ecology, apply but multiplied 10 fold to including Hawaii. Yes, it is a state within the United States of America, but it was not a natural joining. Hawaii was an independent country before being annexed by the United States in 1898, and it only became a state 66 years later. If the ABA is going to start adding territories acquired by the United States to the ABA birding area, then by default it would have to include Guam, Midway, Wake, American Samoa, Puerto Rico, and Diego Garcia in the middle of the Indian Ocean. I am sure that all ABA birders would consider those inclusions to be ridiculous, just as it is ridiculous to add Hawaii.

    • Morgan Churchill

      is the difference in ecology that great? the ABA currently includes arctic tundra, dry deserts, and mangrove forests.

      How Hawaii was added doesn’t make any sense either. A good chunk of the Southwest was acquired due to war with Mexico, and that doesn’t even get into what we did to Native Americans (I don’t most tribes would consider there territories be carved up into the US states as a “natural” joining

      I’ll grant you that Hawaii is not connected with the rest North America, but California is the closest landfall, and it’s not like Hawaii is just off the coast of Asia or Australia either.

    • Doug Pratt

      If any of those territories becomes a state, ABA might want to consider including it. But I think the chances of statehood for any of these are vanishingly small (especially in light of the financial disaster in PR). Why make a big issue over something that is not going to happen?

      • Nate Dias

        Doug – what does being a state have to do with it? That seems like an arbitrary line meant to support a preconceived notion (Hawaii) and to exclude say Puerto Rico, which has its own “ignored” species in trouble, like Puerto Rican Parrot, Yellow-shouldered Blackbird, Elfin Woods Warbler, etc.

        By the way – Washington DC is not a state and it IS included in the ABA area already.

        • Doug Pratt

          Well, being a state has everything to do with it. I may be wrong, but I think Puerto Ricans are US nationals, but not citizens (they can’t vote in federal elections). When you travel to PR, you have to go through customs, but not when you travel to Hawaii (unless you’re Canadian). Midway is a US possession with no permanent residents, so not quite the same as DC, but you still have to go through customs when you go there. ABA area now is most of the US and all of Canada, with the French islands included because they would otherwise be an enclave, as would DC. The change would make it all of both the US and Canada, plus any little bits that would be holes in the map.

          • Jason Crotty

            Puerto Ricans are US citizens and passports are not required for US citizens to travel to or from the mainland. They have a non-voting resident commissioner of Congress, similar to the delegate from DC. They have presidential primaries but no electoral votes.

          • Doug Pratt

            I stand corrected. However, international sports and other such things regard PR as a separate entity from the US. PR is represented separately in the Olympics, but North Carolina (and Hawaii) are not.

          • Jason Crotty

            I’m not necessarily suggesting any of these facts make a difference, only that we might as well get the facts right. To me, it is citizenship that would matter if the decision ever came to a vote.

            My point here is that there is no principled basis for either the current ABA Area or the proposed one, including political boundaries. That’s why members cannot even agree on an essential premise, such as: What is the purpose of the ABA Area?

      • Lance Tanino

        I’m sure when Robert (Bob) Pyle and Michael Ord, both Hawaii residents, who served on the ABA Board a long time ago, explained why Hawaii should be added to the ABA Area, I’m sure ABA members thought the same thing…”not going to happen”.

  • The Birdist

    The one thing missing for me in this debate — in the blog post about or in the Birding article you linked to — is just what it *means* to add a place to the ABA area. Does adding a region to the master checklist simply facilitate the checking of lists, or are there more concrete changes that would occur in ABA’s focus or policies?

    I don’t understand how not including Hawaiian birds on the official listing checklist precludes the ABA from advocating for Hawaiian birds. If we want to use the master checklist as a tool to encourage conservation, should we not also be voting on whether to add Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and American Samoa, other parts of America with imperiled species? I wholeheartedly agree with the need to conserve the birds of Hawaii (of anywhere, for that matter), but the link between adding these species to the master checklist and achieving that conservation has never been made clear to me. It seems to the that if the ABA wants to advocate on behalf of Hawaiian birds, other options include a) just doing it without the birds on the ABA checklist, or b) adding an ABA+ checklist or something similar.

    My argument against adding Hawaii to the ABA checklist continues to be that adding another far-flung destination into the scrum of places that we listers “need” to visit reinforces the economic disparity that already makes it darn near impossible for regular-income folks to compete. Current ABA boundary birding is not cheap, but its relative contiguousness (Aleutians excepted) meant that everything was pretty much a dedicated hitchhike away. Call me a romantic, but I like that idea. That’s lost when suddenly I need to fly across the Pacific, then among the various islands, hiring guides at each stop (I guess I could stow away on a tramp steamer or something, that’s sorta romantic). I know how beautiful the birds of Hawaii are, having honeymooned there last November, but I also know how expensive it is. I don’t know if U.S. listers should be required to make a lifelong commitment to another human being just to be able to afford some new state ticks.

    ABA birders are smart enough to care about Hawaiian birds without having the area be listed on the ABA master checklist. Checklists are for listing, but the ABA is more than that.

    • Jason Crotty

      I have the same question about what the actual concrete consequences of this change might mean. I have also asked this question on the Facebook post. Would this just impact the checklist committee and listers or is there something more? Changing the bylaws makes it sound pretty important but perhaps that is not the case. It is unclear to me how members can make an intelligent choice without having an explanation of the consequences for both outcomes, as those consequences are understood by those in charge. For example, would this cost anything? For an organization in financial peril, that’s a meaningful issue, I would think.

    • Morgan Churchill

      My sense is that adding birds to the ABA checklist would eventually lead to their inclusion within field guides covering North America. Which would increase their visibility to the American public. More birders probably know what a five-striped sparrow is and exactly where it occurs in the US than what an Palila is. It may also slightly raise the profile of Hawaiian birds. Again…consider that almost all the field guides use the ABA area guidelines as there own geographic guidelines…we don’t see Greenland birds in our Sibley for instance

      It won’t magically make all the problems disappear, but any marginal aid could become beneficial.

      • Jason Crotty

        I understand the argument that adding Hawaii to the ABA Area would mean some listers might focus some additional attention on Hawaiian birds and perhaps some ABA Blog posts and Birding might add some more Hawaii content (though neither seem particularly limited by the current ABA Area right now) but it seems highly unlikely to me that a field guide to the birds of North America might add Hawaii simply because the ABA added it to its listing area. That would not make Hawaii part of North America nor would it change that fact that more than 100 new birds would have to be added, making the “field guide” even more unwieldy. It is hard to see Sibley getting significantly larger than it is now, for example. That doesn’t make adding Hawaii a bad idea, but I don’t think the field guide argument works. I do think it would increase attention on the plight of Hawaiian birds within a group of highly interested and motivated conservation-minded individuals, which is probably enough for me, if I understood the overall consequences of the vote to the ABA.

        • Doug Pratt

          All of the writers in this thread seem to think that this change will only affect continental birders. But one of the best reasons for adding Hawaii is to acknowledge that birders who live there are Americans. The current ABA boundaries are highly offensive to them, and over the years, that has been detrimental to both the ABA (because Hawaii residents wondered why they should join an organization that discriminated against them) and to local birders who missed out on the educational benefits of ABA membership. The number of birders in Hawaii has increased dramatically in recent years (just as native birds are fast disappearing), so this point is even more important now.

          • Jason Crotty

            I agree with that, but the problem is that it is not applied consistently. The absence of an organizing principle for the ABA Area effectively means that no one principled argument (political boundaries, ecology, established expectations, etc.) can prevail. Even the proposed ABA Area excludes more than 2.5M Puerto Ricans, who are Americans by virtue of being born in the US, in Puerto Rico. But it appears a non-starter to add Puerto Rico, for reasons that are evidently too obvious to articulate though they are not clear to me.

            Some of this is a larger issue: Is the ABA an organization dedicated to birding and birders or is it a club for listers, a combination of the two, or something else? There’s a reason people are talking past each other in this debate.

          • Laurent Fournier

            Why not adding France (the whole country) to the ABA, then? After all, France is also part of the ABA area (by virtue of the Saint Pierre and Miquelon Islands), and is even closer to, say, Chicago than Honolulu (4,200 miles).

          • Jason Crotty

            I can’t imagine this is a surprise, but rather than add France to the ABA Area, I would be more inclined to add all of the USA and exclude the tiny portion of French-owned North America.

          • Rick Wright

            Right — we already exclude Martinique.

          • Michael Retter

            Laurent, SPM is an enclave of the rest of the ABA Area. Every other French territory is not. If you’re not familiar with the concept of an enclave, check out: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enclave_and_exclave

          • Steven Tucker

            Well said Jason.

          • Laurent Fournier

            I am pretty sure the “A” in ABA was meant to be “American”, as in the American Continent (and as such includes Canada and a couple of french islands). It was never meant to be “US birding association”.

          • David Rankin

            And Mexico too, right? Oh wait.

          • Rick Wright

            No, it was never meant to include “the American Continent,” whatever that is. It was defined from the start as Canada and the US except for HI.

          • Michael Retter

            Well, not quite. At first, the ABA used “the AOU Area”, which also included Greenland and Baja. Besides being the worst reason to keep doing anything, “but it’s always been this way” is also untrue.

          • Rick Wright

            True, true.

        • Michael Retter

          Jason, when you said ” it seems highly unlikely to me that a field guide to the birds of North America might add Hawaii simply because the ABA added it to its listing area”, that directly contradicts every conversation I’ve had with a field guide author about this very issue. It’s–to me–the most important reason to vote “yes” on this change. Adding Hawaiian species to field guides that cover every other state in the US would increase awareness, and with that, support for conservation.

          • Doug Pratt

            You younger birders might not know this unless you are a book collector, but Roger Tory Peterson included Hawaii in the 2nd edition of his western field guide (1962). That inclusion changed the course of my life. As a result, I eventually went to Hawaii and fell in love with the birds there. My dissertation was on the relationships of the native birds, and in 1987 I was senior author and illustrator of “A Field Guide to the Birds of Hawaii and the Tropical Pacific. It was my effort to emulate my mentor and become the “Roger Tory Peterson of the Pacific”. Peterson himself, in his third edition, cited my book as the reason he left out Hawaii (since it now had a book of its own) in his 3rd western edition. What’s in a field guide (as well as what’s included in the ABA Area) is VERY important. I think Mike Ord and I are the oldest veterans of the “Add-Hawaii Wars” within the ABA. It would be very gratifying to me to see Hawaii finally take its rightful place with American birders.

          • Jason Crotty

            Michael, I’m surprised by that but haven’t had those conversations as you have. So I defer to the actual authors of field guides on what they’d do if the ABA Area expanded.

      • Lance Tanino

        Raising the profile of Hawaiian birds is important. It is also important to recognize the non-endangered native species that many birders may not be aware of: O’ahu ‘Amakihi (island endemic), Hawaii ‘Amakihi (island endemic), Kauai ‘Amakihi (island endemic), ‘Apapane (endemic), Maui ‘Alauahio (island endemic), Omao (island endemic), ‘I’iwi (endemic, will be proposed for endangered status in the near future), Kauai ‘Elepaio (island endemic), Hawaii ‘Elepaio (island endemic). This is a good list to just start learning to pronounce their names 🙂

    • Lance Tanino

      I agree with your statement: “If we want to use the master checklist as a tool to encourage conservation, should we not also be voting on whether to add Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and American Samoa, other parts of America with imperiled species?” As U.S. citizens/birders/listers, it would be important to be aware of these other places and bird species recognized by the USFWS.

      I think regular-income ABA member folks living in the 50th state should be able to romanticize about adding their own local species to the ABA Area. I believe ABA birders care enough about Hawaiian birds for it to be necessary to have the area listed on the ABA master checklist. ABA can be for listing and conservation at the same time and thrive doing so.

  • Laurent Fournier

    ABA can choose political boundaries, or continental boundaries, but cherry picking your boundaries because it fits the ABA marketing goals is just lessening the ABA reputation.

    – If political boundaries are the one that counts, then all US and Canadian territories should be included (including porto rico and Guam). And a decision about the case of Saint Pierre and Miquelon should be taken. Either exclude Saint Pierre and Miquelon from ABA, or include all of the French Territories (continental France, plus all territories such as French Carabians islands, Tahiti, Kerguelen Islands, and south polar bases).

    – if continental boundaries are the one that counts, then stick to the current definition. And possibly rename it “North American Birding Association”, as the American continent includes, as you may know, a few more countries south of the USA/Mexico border.

    • Rick Wright

      Wish you could tell us more about “the ABA marketing goals” and where you’ve found out about them.

  • Matthew Williamson

    I have come to expect inane and ridiculous decisions from the ABA. This “vote” is just one more. The ABA is a “broken” organization. It has been for many years. Rather than do one thing well, the ABA does many things poorly. I gave up on the ABA years ago. My guess is that the ABA will soon be a forgotten entity.

    • Morgan Churchill

      The fact that it is a vote open only to membership would suggest that it’s not broken. If the membership decides they want to add Hawaii, than denying their say in the manner strikes me as more broken than putting up a vote.

      By all means people who are opposed to this SHOULD vote if they are members, and convince friends and colleagues to do so as well. I know I am voting for it and endorsing adding Hawaii to all who will listen. But if the revision doesn’t pass, I am not going to rail against the ABA and its membership. I am just going to hope that the decision may be considered again in the future at some later date.

  • Bill and Nancy LaFramboise

    We think this is taken care of by having a United States category and there is no need for the ABA bylaws change. We feel that is where the birds of Hawaii should be counted.

    • Rick Wright

      That’s a very sensible point, Bill and Nancy. But the US “listing area” is a subsidiary category, and leaving HI there rather than placing it in the constitutive area leaves it second-rate.

      • Michael Retter

        To channel Justice Ginsburg, it’s a “skim milk list”.

  • andrew haffenden

    In response to some of the topics in this discussion, not sure that the Dry Tortugas or a pelagic in the Gulf Of Mexico is ecologically similar to the arctic tundra of Alaska or Canada, or the sea and islets seen from the boat on your way from Adak to Attu. I haven’t seen a lot of ecological similarity between the Arizona desert and the deltas of the Gulf either. Complaining about some Hawaiian birds having an ancient Asian or Australian origin rings a bit hollow when going to Attu or Adak is about getting modern Asian vagrants, not mainly about breeding residents.The listable Kelp gulls that bred in Louisiana were far more recent migrants from the Southern Hemisphere than the original stock leading to some Hawaiian species. Not to mention that Australia and surrounds was likely the original of all the passerines, way back when. Hawaii was just a bit behind, in large part due to it not existing…

    A quick looks reveals bird tours to Hawaii for around $480-500 per day, including inter-island air. Air to Hawaii from Chicago – I used that city as a representative as it appears that some birders live there -ranges from $750-900. Adak tours are around $500 per day, and Attu tours around $550 per day. Air to Anchorage is $500-650, and an additional $1200 to Adak. So Adak/Attu tours are a little more expensive on a daily basis – but much better food, accommodation etc – but to get there costs twice as much as to get to Hawaii.So a week birding Attu is about $5600, and a week birding Hawaii is about $4300, both on guided bird tours. The Attu and Adak costs don’t include the cost of a hotel in Anchorage before the flight to Adak and on return. I don’t think the cost of getting to Hawaii as an objection to its inclusion stands up.

    • Morgan Churchill

      Plus you can do a lot of the Hawaii islands by yourself, without a guide. All of the exotics and the majority of native species can be seen in publicly accessible areas. You can’t really easily pull that off at most of the remote AK outposts, given the very limited accommodations/food venues/transportation. And most of the specialties are resident. If the weather gods frown on you while on St. Paul…well…have fun on that.

      • Carl

        The weather gods seem to frown on HI just as much as St. Paul. Kauai is the wettest place in earth, some areas getting 300+ inches of rain annually. A friend of ours had a 3-day birding trip there this year rained out and had a hurricane come through.

        • andrew haffenden

          Carl, as one wouldn’t go to the Aleutians in February for birds (or for any other reason I can think of), don’t go to Hawaii in the hurricane season. The birds one wants to see will be there every other month, unlike the Aleutians.

  • Frank Pinilla

    I vote no.

    Yes, Hawaii is American, but what do the birds know about political boundaries? Isn’t the geographic region the important determining factor here? Hawaii, in the middle of the Pacific is no more a part of the geographic distribution of birds, and in fact far less, than say Puerto Rico or Cuba or the Bahamas, but those regions aren’t included.

    Seems a strange decision to be including it simply based on political distinction.

    Apart from the Aleutian Islands, the ABA listing area is quite contiguous. Why add something that is 3,750km (2,230mi) away from the nearest point of land in the ABA (and 2,030mi from the nearest portion of the ABA area after adjusting for the 200mi limit in the Pacific)?

    • Steven Tucker

      The geographic region is not the determining factor here, certainly not the main factor anyway, for good or ill. Mexico is part of North America and shares a massive border with the U.S., but no one seriously thinks about including it in the ABA, despite the contiguous border and hundreds of species it shares with the ABA Area.

      Speaking of things contiguous, aside from the Aleutians, St. Lawrence Island and the Pribs are quite far from the mainland as well. These are all crucial places for ABA listing purposes, but no one complains about how far offshore they are or of their proximity to Russia. Greenland is only a stone’s throw from Canadian soil, but since it is not part of Canada few think about including it in the ABA Area. Political boundaries have everything to do with the boundaries of ABA Area, and I don’t think that is anything new. Jason Crotty makes a good point above regarding this.

  • Laurent Fournier

    Let’s be honest here. The real goal here is to bring one of the most popular retirement destination (and its wealthy retirees from the former ABA area) inside of the ABA boundaries, in order to maintain and expand membership. Greenland and Puerto Rico would have make a lot more sense in a geographical and ecological point of view, but that’s not where the money and interest was.

    • Nate Dias

      Thanks for mentioning the elephant in the room – that so many of us have been thinking! That is why certain people are turning intellectual cartwheels in support of that preconceived notion.

      • David Rankin

        I’m pretty sure Florida is already a part of the ABA 😉

        • Not to mention Texas and Arizona.

          Sent from my phone

      • David Rankin

        On a serious note, why shouldn’t the ABA expand in the direction that the majority of its members are interested in? Most members don’t care about fundraising and recruitment, they care about birds. And the number of Hawaiian birders is tiny.

    • Rick Wright

      You’re right — it’s a great big conspiracy.

  • Andrew Spencer

    What most people advocating against adding Hawaii don’t seem to realize is that the ABA area, as currently defined, is completely artificial any way you look at it. It’s neither a biogeographic region (or it would include northern Mexico, Greenland, etc), nor a political region (or it would include Hawaii), nor a geological region (or it would include, at the very least, Mexico south to the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, or otherwise to the Darien Gap). So since most of the arguments for the ABA staying are based on false assumptions, the only potentially valid reason for keeping the status quo is to avoid “widening the playing field” as someone put it. Personally I think that’s a rather silly reason to decide one way or the other, and I would be in favor of adding Hawaii, but I don’t feel that strongly either way.

    On another note, hasn’t the ABA area already changed once? Didn’t Baja California, Greenland, and Bermuda once count as part of the ABA? So the playing field has already changed once.

    • Laurent Fournier

      I think you are right…was in in the 1970? I wonder what was the reason why these territories were excluded. Would be great to post something about it, so ABA members can make a fully educated guess

  • Matt Bartels

    A comment and a question:
    I’m pretty agnostic on whether or not to include Hawaii – I don’t see the arguments to include it as very persuasive, but I don’t have a problem with it either. This spoken as one of those folks very focused on listing — I’m just never going to be in the ‘big leagues’ enough to care about every last potential bird in the ABA area, however defined, so changing the area doesn’t affect me personally that much.

    As some have mentioned though, the exclusion of Mexico, the Caribbean, and maybe even Central America seems less based on anything other than an implicit ‘white folks’ vs ‘non-white folks’ bias. Adding Hawaii at least goes against that implication, but really does make me question why places like PR are excluded.

    And my question: Does anyone have a sense of how many species would be ‘added’ to the ABA checklist with this change? It would include the Hawaiian endemics, sure, but wouldn’t it also include a bunch of other species that are established non-exotics? Is there a list somewhere of what we’d be adding if/when this is pushed through? It doesn’t affect the arguments either way, I’m just genuinely curious.

  • Benjamin Fambrough

    I do not think this is a good idea. Would this do anything for the environment or conservation? Maybe Jeff could clarify this point for me. Obviously I have some research to do. The islands (which I have visited and birded, and seen I’iwi as well as Palila) are not related to the current ABA area in any way except by political association. Birds and ecology pay no attention to these matters. While I appreciate the value of listing (based on politically defined regions), I find this the least compelling way to advance birding and conservation. I must admit I am a bit nonplussed.

    • Cliff Hawley

      The Red-cockaded Woodpecker receives more in Federal conservation funding every year than all of the critically endangered Hawaiian birds put together. Out of sight of the mainstream birding community the Hawaiian birds slowly blink out without most people even knowing they exist. Inclusion in the ABA Area will bring greater attention to these birds and a greater desire among the mainstream birding community to see them protected even if just for the selfish reasoning that they want to see them for their list.

    • Cliff Hawley

      The American Bird Conservancy has covered this issue a few times in press releases. For example: https://abcbirds.org/article/threatened-birds-recovering-thanks-endangered-species-act-protection/

      From the article:
      “The dire situation for Hawaiian endangered birds is in part a result of inadequate recovery spending. Hawaiian birds account for more than 25 percent of all listed birds, but received only 6.7 percent of federal recovery spending for birds in 2014,” said George Wallace, American Bird Conservancy’s Vice President for Oceans and Islands. “The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has been working diligently to increase its recovery efforts in Hawaii, and is now spending 18.4 percent of its bird recovery funds on Hawaiian birds, but the population trends indicate still more needs to be done to reverse current declines.”

      In 2012, Red-cockaded Woodpeckers received $38 million in recovery spending.

      This is not a new problem.
      http://www.cfr.washington.edu/classes.esrm.458/Leonard_2008.pdf

  • Bob Russell

    as long as we are adding colonies illegally taken over by the USA, let’s add Guam, Puerto Rico, and Samoa. Adding Hawaii to the ABA boundaries will not help conservation of rapidly declining species which most birders are well aware of. Vote no

    • Rick Wright

      Bob, I account myself reasonably well informed as a birder, and I’m not sure I can name more than two or three of the endangered Hawaiian endemics. If “most birders” you know are well aware of them, you move in far more rarefied circles than I do.

  • Cole G.

    Sadly, I am yet to see any birders provide realistic reasons as to why Hawaii should be added. All birders in favour of adding Hawaii that I’ve talked too have said “Well Hawaii has cool birds, so it should definitely be added! Imagine having ____ on your ABA list!”. I see this as an uneducated reason as the same logic could be applied to practically any other region or area.
    I’m concerned that inexperienced birders that do not address geographical location and relation to the current ABA area will come out to vote. If so, American Samoa, Puerto Rico, and maybe even Guam could be added in my lifetime.

    Note: This is excluding the commenters below.

    • Morgan Churchill

      I mean I could say the same thing for those against. The basic argument against comes down to “BUT IT HAS ALWAYS BEEN EXCLUDED” and concerns about listers needing to add more birds.

      Obviously the root problem here is that not much effort or thought was put into the original description of what the ABA area meant, leading to an arbitrary definition without discrete borders.

      • Rick Wright

        Exactly.

      • Jason Crotty

        Yep. The core problem is that there’s been no articulation from ABA leadership about what the purpose of the ABA Area should be, and why adding Hawaii is consistent with that vision. Is it so the checklist committee can create the definitive list of all birds in the USA (at least the part of the USA that is a state or DC)? Is it for listers and, if so, primarily the ones who have relied on the current rules? Or is it to have the most sensible listing area going forward regardless of the past? Is it to somehow encourage conservation, and, if so, how? Is it to expand the area to include all Americans (or at least exclude fewer Americans)?

        What is perplexing to me is that the process is formal in some respects (e.g., proxy ballots) but informal in others (e.g., the discussion appears to be almost exclusively in a series of posts on the ABA Blog.) And the most comprehensive defense of the proposal is from co-authors of an article in Birding, not the leadership of the ABA. I understand leadership favors the proposal but I don’t know which of the many possible reasons they consider most important, nor do I know their responses to the best arguments against. Unless the article is supposed to represent the opinions of the Board. If that’s the case, it has not been made clear, at least not to me.

        • Morgan Churchill

          The ABA president in his “birding together” column does outline it more and includes statements of support. There have also been various pieces in Birding, both in the recent issue and in past issues. If it seems largely through the blog it’s because the blog is simply the medium with the largest outreach, and most visible to non-members. After all…practically every lister uses the ABA list but I would guess a major component of those listers are not members.

          • Jason Crotty

            I’ve read that and it includes some information, but not what I outlined above, namely a clear articulation of the purpose of the ABA Area and why the proposal fits that vision. Arguments here represent at least two incompatible premises: (1) the ABA Area should be reasonable from an ecological/geographic perspective, and (2) the ABA Area has and should follow political boundaries, to encompass all Americans and/or encourage conservation.

            It seems Jeff proposes a political area as he discusses why Puerto Rico should still be excluded (Puerto Ricans are evidently not among the “unjustly excluded community of birders” that deserve full membership in the ABA) but the article he references makes an effort to argue that some Hawaiian birds are historically from the existing ABA Area, which gives credence to the geography argument.

            Reasonable minds can differ, but I still don’t know why this is important or how it would impact anyone other than listers.

  • Benjamin Fambrough

    The conservation argument is the only convincing one to me so far. However, I still remain in the NO camp. I am thrilled that the ABA has stabilized and grown under the leadership of Jeff Gordon, although I think our membership numbers are still appallingly low given the population of birders in general. Moreover, I do believe we should continue to develop our roll in education and conservation. Our raison d’etre, however, needs to be clarified so that the inclusion of Hawaii (The Hawiian Islands) is actually reasonable. Maybe we develop some new listing ideas and language, or phase out listing altogether.

    For the record, I gave up listing nearly ten years ago, partly because of its negative environmental impact. I still remain an ABA member.

    Additionally, I have a budget for charitable contributions to organizations that do conservation work specifically (nearly the entirety to The Nature Conservancy).

    My point being two fold: a nonsensical inclusion of an unrelated geographic area is in conflict with one of the primary foci of the ABA; and is this the best way for our club to take action on conservation? I am not yet convicted.

  • Michael Retter

    A few people below have said something to the effect of “I don’t see any logical reason to include Hawaii.” Let me offer a huge one: Every “North American” field guide author I have spoken to about Hawaii has said that if it’s added to the ABA Area, they will effectively be forced to include Hawaiian birds in their field guides. Note that “North American” field guides really aren’t field guides to North America–they’re field guides to the ABA Area. The ABA membership effectively controls which birds are found in these field guides by the borders it sets for the ABA Area in the ABA bylaws. Most birders in the US and Canada aren’t familiar with Hawaiian birds only for the reason that they’re not depicted in the field guides they use every day. Adding Hawaii to the ABA Area will change this. Increased awareness equals increased conservation concern. It’s very hard to be concerned about something you don’t know exists. Added bonus: maybe this will be the kick in the butt these field guides need to stop saying “…to North America” while simultaneously excluding half of the species found in North America.

  • Morgan Churchill

    Okay I should really stop posting, but this thread reminded me of a recent paper from 2013 in Science, Holt et al “An update of Wallace’s Zoogeographic Regions of the World” This paper reassesses the boundaries and validity of the traditionally defined zoogeographic zones, by analyzing phylogenetic relationships and native distributions of 20,000 species of birds, amphibians, and mammals, excluding pelagic species.

    Of interest, Hawaii is placed within the Nearctic, while Greenland, St. Lawrence Island, and much of the Canadian Arctic is actually moved to the Palearctic. The modified Nearctic extends down to about the Ishtmus of Tehuantepec. The Caribbean islands are placed in the new Panamanian region.

    Obviously the ABA isn’t and really never was cohesive with biogeography (as discussed in other posts), but it is a bit interesting to note that Hawaii from a biogeographic big picture is more similar to most of the ABA area thank parts of AK and Canada.

  • Lance Tanino

    9.10.2016 – BREAKING NEWS from the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Honolulu, Hawaii — “The World Conservation Congress, at its session in Hawai‘i, United States of America, 1-10 September 2016… “…RECOMMENDS that Hawaiian birds be formally recognised as a part of the U.S. avifauna, and included in appropriate lists of birds maintained by relevant institutions, such as conservation organisations and birdwatching organisations, sufficient to increase the focus of appropriate constituencies on these birds and their conservation”

  • Loren Hintz

    I guess I beg to differ with the majority. In terms of the various regions described by ABA there are advantages to keeping some stability. Adding Hawaii would be a major change to the ABA region list. Currently it excludes tropical areas (Mexico and parts south, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands and Hawaii.) If the argument is to include all 50 states then Midway should be left out. If Midway is included so should Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. There are lots of other ways to promote Conservation besides including a region in the ABA region. By that logic Mexico should also be added. I think stability in the regions should be given more priority than the other factors mentioned. Loren Hintz Chapel Hill NC

    • Lance Tanino

      How do you promote conservation by excluding U.S. bird species in one state but not all 50 states? How do you promote conservation of U.S. bird species by prioritizing some states but not all states? “The World Conservation Congress, at its session in Hawai‘i, United States of America, 1-10 September 2016… “…RECOMMENDS that Hawaiian birds be formally recognised as a part of the U.S. avifauna, and included in appropriate lists of birds maintained by relevant institutions, such as conservation organisations and birdwatching organisations, sufficient to increase the focus of appropriate constituencies on these birds and their conservation…” Which regions would you prioritize for stability?

    • Lance Tanino

      How do you promote conservation of U.S. bird species in only 49 out of 50 states where the name of the birding organization is called AMERICAN Birding Association? Should we not at least include all 50 states and their ABA members? How do you exclude conservation promotion of U.S. bird species in the 50th state where they represent a large portion of the U.S. endangered bird species list? Which regions would you prioritize for stability if it doesn’t include Hawaii?

      “The World Conservation Congress, at its session in Hawai‘i, United States of America, 1-10 September 2016… “…RECOMMENDS that Hawaiian birds be formally recognised as a part of the U.S. avifauna, and included in appropriate lists of birds maintained by relevant institutions, such as conservation organisations and birdwatching organisations, sufficient to increase the focus of appropriate constituencies on these birds and their conservation…”

      • Laurent Fournier

        as part of the U.S.A. Yes. North America? Definitely not. Hawaii is not part of North America, no matter how much you try to bend or stretch your world map (can you see the large blue area between Hawaii and north america? It’s called an ocean). Rename the American Birding Association “US and Canadian Birders Association” and I have no problem with that.

    • Lance Tanino

      Midway Atoll (Pihemanu Kauihelani) is the 2nd northernmost atoll as a part of the northwestern Hawaiian Islands (Midway Atoll NWR, Hawaiian Islands NWR, Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument) and Hawaiian Islands archipelago, where it sits 55 miles to the east of Kure Atoll (Mokupāpapa; northernmost atoll) and 87 miles east-northeast of Pearl and Hermes Reef (Holoikauaua; 3rd northernmost atoll). It wouldn’t make any sense to leave out Midway Atoll while including everything else in the archipelago.

      • Jason Crotty

        I think the point is that there’s no principled reason to include Midway (or DC) and other territories and exclude Puerto Rico and USVI. There’s no geographic or ecological reason to include Hawaii so the justification has to be political boundaries, but those too are applied in an unprincipled and inconsistent way. If this passes, the only significant group of Americans to be excluded from the ABA Area would be the territories, not because they aren’t citizens or don’t have significant avian conservation needs, but because they are not states. Since DC and Midway would be in, there would have to be some other (non-statehood, non-geographic, non-ecological) reason and, frankly, most of the plausible reasons would be very unappealing.

        • Michael Retter

          There certainly is a geopolitical reason, Jason. Midway is an enclave of Hawaii, just as Saint Pierre and Miquelon is an effectively an enclave of Newfoundland, and DC is an enclave of the Lower 48. Excluding them would not make sense to me. Puerto Rico and the USVIs, however, are not enclaves.

          • Jason Crotty

            I wouldn’t exclude Midway. What eludes me is why some territories — which have an equal conservation claim — are excluded. They have Americans who are unjustly excluded from the full ABA family too. What makes them less worthy?

            Since the Board has articulated no organizing principle for the ABA Area, it really just comes down to counting votes. Because there’s a little of everything in both the current and proposed ABA Area, no arguments are out of bounds and all are effectively entitled to the same weight.

            Obviously everyone will simply muddle though but it’s really a missed opportunity to do something more.

          • Michael Retter

            The ABA membership was formally polled a couple years ago, and the *only* area a majority favored adding was Hawaii. I would guess that’s why this is the option that’s being presented right now, and it seems like a smart move to me. It’s not generally considered a good move to present a change to the bylaws that your members are likely to reject.

  • Jason Crotty

    I am a novice when it comes to the Canadian government, but there are evidently ten Canadian Provinces and three territories, which have far less sovereignty than the provinces. I believe they are included in the ABA Area notwithstanding their inferior political status, but US territories are not. Is the difference some subtlety regarding the Canadian form of government or is there a reason the ABA treats US territories differently. And perhaps I am simply confused about how Canada works. Any insight would be appreciated.

  • Doug Pratt

    In a recent detailed contribution to this blog, Nicholas Sly purported to show that the Hawaiian avifauna is not closely connected to that of the current ABA Area, which roughly coincides with what biogeographers call the Nearctic. This finding is out of step with the consensus of most who have studied the issue, and when I suggested that Nicholas had put a lot of “spin” on his data, he acted insulted. But spin he did, by cherry-picking the data that supported his position when equally likely alternatives exist, overlooking entirely several colonizers from North America, and by misleadingly placing eastern Asia in the same category as the South Pacific (Oceania) and Australasia. Eastern Asia represents part of the region we call the Palearctic, which is closely related faunistically, and often combined with, the Nearctic. The authoritative volume “Conservation Biology of Hawaiian Forest Birds: Implications for Island Avifauna” (T. K. Pratt et al., eds. 2009. Yale University Press) recognizes only the Holarctic (temperate northern hemisphere) in evaluating the origins of Hawaiian birds, because many colonizing lineages could have come from either Asia or North America. Their analysis places the Hawaiian Islands firmly within the Holarctic, with 12-13 colonizers and 122 migrants from the temperate north, and only 4-5 colonizers and no migrants from elsewhere in the tropical Pacific. Since then, studies have been published that place a few of the ambiguous lineages in either the Palearctic or Nearctic, so now we can tell with more precision which part of the Holarctic is more influential.

    Importantly, neither Nicholas nor anyone else on this blog, has considered what nonresident migratory birds tell us about faunal connections. Birds that migrate, especially if they do so in flocks, are the most common source of island land bird colonizers. I would guess that over 80% of the birds that regularly migrate to Hawaii (mostly shorebirds and waterfowl) come from North America. A birder from mainland North America will feel right at home in the winter months on a pond in Hawaii. So lets take another look at Nicholas’s analysis.

    Consensus supports the North American origin of the Hawaiian goose, gallinule, and coot. But to this list we could add the stilt and the Short-eared Owl, which Nicholas scored as “origin unknown”. The stilt is either a subspecies of the Black-necked or a closely related species (Pratt & Pratt. 2001. Studies in Avian Biology 22:72), and although the owl is a named endemic subspecies, it is now believed to be a post-Polynesian colonizer essentially identical to those from western N. America.

    A closer look shows that the 3 colonizers Nicholas lists as Neotropical (American tropics) are also better regarded as Nearctic or probably Nearctic. Nicholas fails to appreciate the fact that even though two species may be nearest relatives, their present distributions tell us nothing about where their common ancestor lived. Colonization of Hawaii from central or South America is much less likely than from temperate North America because of the distances involved (in fact, there are no known examples). The Hawaiian Hawk is related to Swainson’s, Short-tailed, and Galapagos hawks. Because two members of this clade are island species, it makes sense that their common ancestor was a migratory North American proto-Swainson’s. Families or genera do not colonize islands; species do, and present-day distributions of groups tell us little about the distribution of a colonizing ancestor, an important point that Nicholas fails to appreciate. The Mohoidae, the now-extinct ‘o‘os and Kioea, are very distantly related to a group of aberrant families that also includes the Iranian Hypocolius, which Nicholas conveniently left out, so the most we can say is that they are of Holarctic origin. Since most island colonizers are migratory species, the idea that they came from some migratory North American species is not unreasonable. The solitaire species most similar to a likely common ancestor with the Hawaiian ones is Townsend’s. It’s the only highly migratory solitaire and migrates in flocks. So now we are up to 7 Nearctic colonizers and one Holarctic/probably Nearctic.

    Hawaiian and Laysan ducks are related to each other and to the Mallard through an ancient hybridization event. Rampant hybridization in this group has obscured relationship details, and phylogenies differ widely. Nicholas cherry-picked one that supports his argument. I think the best we can do is say the Hawaiian ducks originated in the Holarctic, possibly from N. America.

    The Laysan Rail is derived from the east Asian Baillon’s Crake, and even still looks much like it, so it’s Palaearctic. The Hawaiian Rail is in the same clade as the Spotless Crake and several other flightless rails of Polynesia and Micronesia, and is probably of Oceanian origin.

    Nicholas is correct that the Hawaiian Crow (alala) has been found to be related to the Rook. But note the following statement from his cited source (Jonsson et al p. 10, all caps mine): “…the Hawaiian crow …clusters with the Palaearctic [Rook] and so we infer it to have colonized Hawaii from East Asia. This is unexpected BECAUSE THE HAWAIIAN BIOTA GENERALLY EVOLVED THROUGH COLONIZATION FROM AMERICA whereas that of the rest of the Pacific was mostly colonized from Asia and Australo-Papua”.

    Nicholas says the elepaios are “Old World Origin” but that is quite misleading. They represent a primarily Oceanian branch of the monarch flycatchers (Andersen et al. 2015. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 83:118-136) that may have reached Hawaii via other Pacific islands (Filardi & Moyle 2005. Nature 438:216-219).

    The millerbirds are also said to be Old World Origin, but again that is misleading. They actually are relatively recent colonizers of the NW Hawaiian Islands from Oceania (Cibois et al. 2011. Journal of Biogeography 38:1963-1975).

    Lerner et al (2011) did indeed say that the closest relative of Hawaiian honeycreepers was an Asian rosefinch. But that does not necessarily mean the honeycreepers came from Asia, just that they share a common ancestor with an Asian species. A more recent study (sorry, but I can’t remember the reference; may have been a paper given at the recent North American Ornithology Conference) that included a broader array of birds was less specific, and found that the ancestor could have come from either Asia or N. America. Count one more for Holarctic, which at this point gives us Holarctic 3, Nearctic 7, Palearctic 2, and Oceania 3.

    That’s as far as Nicholas went, but we also must consider the Black-crowned Night Heron, which is the same subspecies as the one on the west coast of N. America; Hawaiian flightless ibises known from subfossil remains (but part of the modern avifauna) that are related to Nearctic ibises (Fleischer & McIntosh 2001); the giant flightless ducks known as moanalos that were related to Holarctic dabbling ducks; and the Hawaiian Eagle related to the White-tailed (Palearctic). An extinct forest-dwelling harrier and a group of extinct stilt-owls remain origin unknown.

    So now we have Holarctic 4 (any of which could be Nearctic), Nearctic 9, Palearctic 3, and Oceania 3. So which continent would you say Hawaii’s birds are closest to?

  • Matthew O’Brien

    We can see why many ABA members would be in favor or adding Hawaii to the ABA area. We needn’t go into detail. This would be an immediate source of ‘mucho lifers’ in a region already strongly involved in tourism.

    But, most of the arguments in the largely ‘pro’ article by Rutt et al. were, in our opinion, largely ‘straw men’, which are not real issues here.

    The arguments in the ‘against’ camp were superfluous, again in our opinion. Here’s why:

    1. The pressure on severely declining endemic bird species would only increase. This would not be a good thing. And frankly, given the large number of threatened or endangered endemics, we can’t really see a significant increase in ‘recovery dollars’, especially given the current state of the US Congress. Even such a spectacular species as the Ivory Billed Woodpecker, basically generated no ’new’ dollars for conservation of this species, just a transfer of already committed funds. Is the goal to transfer conservation dollars away from their current placements to Hawaii?

    2. Birders already consume an awful lot of resources with concomitant greenhouse gas emissions. Hawaii would have a huge amount of new birding tourism with similar, increasing emissions. Don’t get us wrong, we’re not against birding expeditions, big years, guided tours, etc. But, we don’t need to actually encourage them.

    3. We could go into the pressure to increase income to all the advertisers in ‘Birding’ in general and to the ABA in particular, but the details of this might rub such advertisers the wrong way, so we’lll skip these details.

    In conclusion, Hawaiithe ABA region is a bad idea, just as it was the last time this issue was brought up.

    Matthew O’Brien (ABA member)
    Milpitas, CA

    Bob O’Brien
    Carver, OR

    • Rick Wright

      How apophatic of you. How will adding HI to the ABA area “increase income to all the advertisers” and to the ABA?

  • Paul Budde

    I’m still confused as to the rationale for adding Hawaii. Mexico, as part of North America, is more “American” than Hawaii. And if we were to add Hawaii and Midway Atoll as some have suggested, why not Guam and American Samoa, the latter even having one of our National Parks?
    Clearly, this is all about what’s “countable”. As a lister, I understand that, but also recognize that if those endangered Hawaiian birds are added to the Checklist, then there will be more pressure put upon them by birders looking for their tics.

    • I admit I don’t really understand the concern about pressure on Hawaiian birds by “listers”. I would trust Hawaiian authorities to be able to manage that appropriately if it is a problem. There are a number of mainland species with similarly sensitive situations, but I never hear the same concern for Kirtland’s Warbler, Black-capped Vireo, or Whooping Crane, for instance.

      • Paul Budde

        In theory, yes, but why don’t listserves publish owl roosting spots? How many times have you heard others using playback in Everglades National Park or NWRs where its prohibited? And, unfortunately, closing part of a trail doesn’t always keep birders out. Most birders are very ethical and hold the birds first, but not all will do so in Hawaii just as they don’t elsewhere. Will the good effect of more attention focused on endangered species outweigh the harm? Maybe, but it’s a question to consider.

        • Morgan Churchill

          I remain skeptical that birders are going to stage infilitration of restricted reserves where the really endangered species dwell. Those are fenced and pretty well monitored I believe. And most of the endemics are not owls or really skulking birds…they are difficult to see more out of limited distribution/access issues (AFAIK) than really requiring playback or a lot of bush beating.

          By this logic, ABA should make current checklist birds that are vulnerable to human disturbance non-countable across the board, but I know no one who has ever seriously argued for that.

    • Morgan Churchill

      It simply comes down to Hawaii being a state and the others…not so much (and Midway Atoll as an enclave within a state). If those territories become states than it might be worth having this discussion again.

      From a practicality standpoint, a good reason to exclude Guam and American Samoa is neither region is within the AOU NACC checklist region. The ABA defers all taxonomic decisions to the NACC. Adding these regions would likely mean that the checklist would have to potentially decide between conflicting authorities and or make there own checklist rulings, which is a slippery slope they might not want to proceed down.

    • Lance Tanino

      In regards to pressure on Hawaiian birds or any birds in general, we (ABA members) have the American Birding Association Code of Birding Ethics.

      To me, ABA and the ABA-Area is so much more than what’s “countable” and being a lister, it is about growing as an association and addressing bird conservation. We should follow the international conservation community’s (IUCN/World Conservation Congress) recommendations for “Hawaiian birds be formally recognised as a part of the U.S. avifauna, and included in appropriate lists of birds maintained by relevant institutions, such as conservation organisations and birdwatching organisations, sufficient to increase the focus of appropriate constituencies on these birds and their conservation”

  • Glen Tepke

    If this is approved, in addition to creating a new ”ABA – Continental” listing area, the ABA also needs to create a new “Photographed ABA – Continental” listing category. Just as many members have invested great time and resources in their “classic” ABA Area sightings list, many photo listers have invested great time and resources in their “classic” Photographed ABA Area lists.

  • Jason Crotty

    I got the email about the misdirected proxy ballots but still have not received my ballot — is that consistent with the expected timing or should I just print out the online version and send that in?

    Also, if the resolution on Hawaii passes, will the ABA “Mission Statement” be revised to remove the reference to North America, like the bylaws definition of the ABA Area would be changed? And, if so, to what? The U.S. and Canada?

    It currently reads: “The American Birding Association represents the North American birding community…”

  • Wim van Dam

    As of September 27 I still haven’t received the ballot by mail. Is this a common experience? I know that I can download and print-out the pdf, etc, but I’m curious if many people have the same problem.

  • Howard Einspahr

    Forgive the belated appeal, but please don’t eliminate the current ABA Area from the accredited lists. It is of such historic importance and, for many, will always be the prime list for placing goals and totals into context. Keep it as “Original” or “Former”, even “Old” ABA Area, but keep it.

    Meanwhile, there’s no way my vote will be counted at this pointed because I prompting about a ballot came too late for USPS delivery by deadline. There must be a way to vote online. Let’s use online voting in all future referendums.

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