Tuesday, June 11, 2013

CT's Next 15 Birds - Six Years Later

Back in the summer of 2007 I began to piece together an article, later published in The Connecticut Warbler, that attempted to predict (AKA 'guess') the next 15 bird species to be added to the CT state list. Now that we're six years out, it's time for another look back.

The "research" included assembling a 13-member panel to submit their own Top Ten Lists, ranked from most (10 pts) to least likely (1 pt). A total of 47 species received votes. Here they are (since recorded species in bold):



Rank
Votes
Points
1
Townsend's Warbler
13
117
2
Swainson's Warbler
11
68
3
Black-chinned Hummingbird
10
70
4
Little Egret
6
39
5
California Gull
6
28
6
White-winged Tern
6
19
t7
Allen's Hummingbird
5
29
t7
Hammond's Flycatcher
5
29
9
Slaty-backed Gull
4
30
10
Garganey
4
18
11
Northern Lapwing
4
15
12
Common Murre
3
26
13
Pacific Golden Plover
3
17
14
Redwing
3
13
15
Black-tailed Gull
3
9
16
Shiny Cowbird
2
16
17
Western Meadowlark
2
14
18
Rock Wren
2
13
19
Reddish Egret
2
12
20
Vermillion Flycatcher
2
11
21
White-tailed Kite
2
9
22
Lesser Sand-Plover
2
7
23
Yellow-legged Gull
2
6
t24
Black-bellied Whistling-Duck
2
5
t24
Sage Thrasher
2
5
26
Lewis' Woodpecker
2
4
27
Great-tailed Grackle
2
2
28
Inca Dove
1
9
t29
Long-billed Murrelet
1
8
t29
Trumpeter Swan
1
8
t31
Black-throated Sparrow
1
7
t31
Common Ground Dove
1
7
t31
Lesser Nighthawk
1
7
34
Anna's Hummingbird
1
6
t35
Fieldfare
1
5
t35
Western Wood-pewee
1
5
t37
Gray Jay
1
4
t37
Western Reef-heron
1
4
39
Eurasian Kestrel
1
3
t40
Broad-tailed Hummingbird
1
2
t40
Cassin's Sparrow
1
2
t40
Clark's Grebe
1
2
t43
Brown Booby
1
1
t43
Common Chaffinch
1
1
t43
Common Ringed Plover
1
1
t43
Mountain Plover
1
1
t43
Violet-green Swallow
1
1

Panel members: Nick Bonomo, Milan Bull, Frank Gallo, Greg Hanisek, Julian Hough, Jay Kaplan, Frank Mantlik, Edward James Raynor, Dori Sosensky, Mark Szantyr, Daniel Williams, Glenn Williams, and Joseph Zeranski.

Since then, the following 12 species have been seen in the state (in chronological order):

Common Ground Dove
"Western" Flycatcher
Broad-billed Hummingbird
Slaty-backed Gull 

Graylag Goose
Western Meadowlark

White-tailed Kite
Northern Lapwing
Common Murre
Band-rumped Storm-Petrel
White-tailed Tropicbird
Brown Booby (pending ARCC review)


*NOTE: A 1986 record of Ivory Gull, originally rejected, was recently reviewed and accepted by the ARCC. However, nobody included Ivory Gull on their lists anyway (note that this was before the recent rash of lower 48 IVGU sightings).


You'll see that several of those birds were not even mentioned in the predictions!

Common Ground Dove received one vote (Frank Gallo), Western Meadowlark got two votes (Milan Bull and Frank Mantlik), Slaty-backed Gull received 4 votes (Nick Bonomo, EJ Raynor, Danny Williams, Glenn Williams), Northern Lapwing got 4 votes (Greg Hanisek, Mark Szantyr, Frank Gallo, Danny Williams), Common Murre fetched three (Nick Bonomo, Glenn Williams, Frank Mantlik), White-tailed Kite had two (Jay Kaplan, Danny Williams), and Brown Booby one (Joe Zeranski).

For those keeping score at home, Danny Williams currently holds the title of king prognosticator, having hit on 3 of the 12 new species. Well done Daniel.

It is interesting to see how perception has changed over the past six years. Looking back, a few birds really stand out. First, White-winged Tern is higher on the list than you'd think, getting votes from nearly half of the panel. This seems high because there are no recent regional records, despite several from 10-20 years ago. As far as underrated birds go, Common Murre (now with several records over the past few years!) and Black-bellied Whistling-Duck appear too low. In fact, if I had to redo my list today, I'd definitely put the duck in my top three as they continue to expand in the southeast and increase as a vagrant to the northeast.

Also of note, the four most recent additions to the CT state list come from the "seabird" category. The Band-rumped Storm-Petrel and White-tailed Tropicbird came thanks to Tropical Storm Irene. Tropical cyclones are a real wildcard, obviously impossible to predict in advance, but capable of bringing several first state records to the pelagic-poor state of Connecticut (we have a coastline, but we are blocked from open ocean by Long Island). 

The murre is a species that winters in small numbers very close to CT waters, and has recently shown signs of becoming a regular winter visitor into far eastern Long Island Sound. Its appearance in CT should not have come as a great surprise. The Brown Booby was also not storm related (as far as we know), and came as a real shocker, despite a spike in sightings along the east coast over the past few years.

Please feel free to share thoughts on this. This was meant to be a fun project from the beginning and I find it interesting to look back on it every now and then.

 - Nick

4 comments:

  1. I find it kinda funny that none of the top 8 species have been found yet. I guess that goes to show how much of a crapshoot this can be.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Nick,
    Thanks for providing this update, as well as your original article in 2007. One of the most exciting aspects of birding, for me and many others, is finding/seeing new species. It points out what a crap shoot it is to predict new species, as evidenced by the "top 8" not being documented yet, as well as several of the recent newbies having not even been predicted. (Thanks, hurricanes). Congrats to Joe Z. for predicting the Brown Booby. How about this: I predict the next CT bird species will be Roseate Spoonbill!
    Frank Mantlik

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  3. Where is the bloody Townsend's Warbler?
    Frank Gallo

    ReplyDelete
  4. Whenever I chat about the next new bird for CT with birding friends, my answer generally depends on the season. When discussing a few weeks ago, I went with Black-bellied Whistling-Duck. If asked in July, I'd probably suggest a long-legged wader or Neotropic Cormorant. In autumn I generally think of Townsend's Warbler or a rare hummingbird. And in winter, gulls.

    There are so many realistic possibilities. We've got some work to do!

    ReplyDelete