Saturday, March 24, 2012

Is it Wild or Domestic? Chinese White Geese & ABA Rules

We birders (which I guess I now must consider myself one - since I have started to keep a list of the birds I have seen - although novice as I am) pride ourselves in three main talents in varying degrees: 1.) How many different species of birds we have been able to observe in the wild and identify them.  2.) Being able to identify a wild bird by its sound (song, call, etc.), 3.) Being able to identify a wild bird by its appearance and/or habits. My interest in birds evolved from my love of nature and nature photography. Being a birder at first was secondary to getting a good photograph, and getting a good photograph is indeed a challenge. Then seeking a good photograph of a bird has lead me to want to get as many photographs of differerent species as possible which in turn has led me to want to travel to areas where I might be able to see a bird I have not seen or photographed.  Hence, I became a birder.
Getting a Magnificent Frigatebird in flight displaying its inflated red gular pouch is a an example of a good photograph
Then there are those hard core birders (Of which I am not one ... yet) who not only keep lists of how many different species of wild birds they have seen, but keep different lists of when and where they have seen a wild bird: a.) in a year, b.) in a month, c.) in a day, d.) in a particular region: continent, country, state, county, park, yard, feeding station etc. (Um... I guess I keep track of some of those).  Regardless of when and where, there is a common term involved, and that term is "wild." There certainly wouldn't be much of a challenge to see or photograph birds that are held in captivity such as raised on farms, or kept in zoos (Below). The thrill of the chase, the discovery, and the patience (and luck) that is involved in getting a good photograph is what makes it satisfying. I myself am happy to be able to see a new species of bird that I have not seen before, but getting a good photograph of it is what makes it a fantastic experience for me (Above).
This Wattled Crane was a captive at the interantional Crane Institute, but would be considered wild in Africa. Baraboo, WI; 7/31/10.

This trio of Chinese White Geese appeared at the Riparian Preserve. Are these wild? Gilbert, AZ; 12/24/2011.
This raises the question about what makes a bird wild. When a bird is not in captivity and is not owned by anyone is it wild?  We would assume so. Ah ... but not so fast. What if it was in captivity at one time and escaped and lived the remainder of its life "free." Is this bird considered wild? If I saw a bird such as this, could I count it on my list of wild birds I have seen? What if the bird is an offspring of a bird that was once held in captivity, but has subsequently escaped, and was conceived and hatched and raised in the wild? This bird IS obviously wild, but is it considered as species of a wild bird? While I was photgraphing birds in the Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch in Gilbert Arizona, I saw up to 40 differet species of birds. But one species was the Chinese White Geese (Above). They were obviously living and thriving in the wild and were not the subject of anyone's ownership. These birds are considered domestic fowl (raised on farms in Russia and China) and are not included in any Bird Guide that I own (I own six different bird guide books) as a wild species. According to the ABA (American Birding Association) Chinese White Geese are not on their list of birds that birders are allowed to count as a wild species.
To be wild or not to be wild - that is the question. Is this "Wild Jungle Fowl," which is listed in many Hawaiian Bird Guides as a bird in Hawaii, accepted on the ABA list of wild birds? It seems that it would be considered wild because of Rule #3iii (below). But "wild" jungle fowl is not listed, whereas "Red" Jungle Fowl is. But the bird (Above) is more likely to be a hybrid offspring of an escaped domestic chicken with a Red Jungle Fowl. These offspring are called "Wld" Jungle Fowl. Is it then not considered wild because of Rule#3iv?  ; Oahu, June, 2008.
The ABA  developed  a code for "birding" thirty years ago and has been amended as recent as 1999.
Members who submit lifelist and annual list totals to the ABA for publication in their annual List Report must observe the ABA Recording Rules. A bird included in totals submitted for ABA lists must have been encountered in accordance with the following 5 rules:

(1) The bird must have been within the prescribed area and time-period when encountered.
(2) The bird must have been a species currently accepted by the ABA Checklist Committee for lists within its area, or by the A.O.U. Checklist for lists outside the ABA area and within the A.O.U. area, or by Clements for all other areas.
(3) The bird must have been alive, wild, and unrestrained when encountered. ***
(4) Diagnostic field-marks for the bird, sufficient to identify to species, must have been seen and/or heard and/or documented by the recorder at the time of the encounter.
(5) The bird must have been encountered under conditions that conform to the ABA Code of Birding Ethics.

Okay, so I put an asterick (or two or three) next to #3 above.  Below is the ABA's definition of what is considered "wild" bird:

“Wild” means that the bird’s occurrence at the time and place of observation is not because it, or its recent ancestors, has ever been transported or otherwise assisted by man.
(i) An otherwise wild bird that voluntarily uses or is attracted to a feeder, nest box, tape recorder, ship at sea, or other nonnatural device without being captured is still considered to be wild. Physical contact between an observer and a bird does not automatically preclude a bird from being counted, as there are
situations where wild birds have learned to eat from outstretched hands, or have used people as temporary perches.
(ii) A species observed far from its normal range may be counted if in the observer’s best judgment and knowledge it arrived there unassisted by man. A wild bird following or riding a ship at sea,
without being captured, is considered to be traveling unassisted by man.
(iii) Birds descendant from escapes or released birds are considered “wild” when they are part of a population which meets the ABA definition of an established introduced population (see the Hawaiian Wild Jungle Fowl Above).
(iv) A bird that is not wild and which later moves unassisted to a new location or undergoes a natural migration is still not wild.
“Unrestrained” means not held captive in a cage, trap, mistnet, hand, or by any other means and not under the influence of such captivity. A bird is considered under the influence of captivity after its release until it regains the activities and movements of a bird which has not been captured.
(i) A bird is under the influence of captivity during its initial flight away from its release point and during subsequent activity reasonably influenced by the captivity, such as initial perching and preening or early sleeping or roosting near the release point.
(ii) A nocturnal species released during daylight which goes to roost near the point of release is considered under the influence of captivity until the next nightfall, when it has left its roost and
begun normal nocturnal activities.

FYI, there are 13 species of geese accepted by the ABA. They are listed below (The * notes which geese I have seen and photographed):

Taiga Bean-Goose
Tundra Bean-Goose
Pink-footed Goose
Greater White-fronted Goose *
Lesser White-fronted Goose
Graylag Goose
Emperor Goose
Snow Goose
Ross's Goose *
Barnacle Goose *
Cackling Goose *
Canada Goose *

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