[TN-Bird] eBird users: Xantus's Murrelet split

  • From: Bill Pulliam <littlezz@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: TN-Bird Listserv <tn-bird@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Fri, 22 Jun 2012 12:48:57 -0500

The next AOU Checklist update will include a split of Xantus's Murrelet into Scripps's Murrelet (northern) and Guadalupe Murrelet (southern). The two forms are distinctly different and covered in field guides, but they do have overlapping non-breeding ranges. Neither species occurs in Tennessee of course; but many Tennessee birders' life lists do include a "Xantus's" Murrelet. Because of the overlapping ranges of the newly split species, eBird WILL NOT be able to automatically assign your Xantus's to one of the daughter taxa. Your unspecified Xantus's will be converted to Scripps's/Guadalupe Murrelets and will no longer count towards your listing totals. This is not like the Pacific/Winter Wren or Dusky/Sooty Grouse splits where the vast majority of records could be reassigned to the correct taxon based on location and season.

So, now is the time to (a) figure out which species you have seen; and (b) go into eBird and assign your Xantus's to the correct subspecies, so that they can then be automatically converted to the correct species when the split is implemented later this year. As for (a), Scripps's is the most common one off California, and by far the most likely one for you to have seen in Monterey Bay. But Guadalupes do occur in CA, and Scripps's in Mexico, so dig into your field notes, field guides, and memories and sort them out. Now for (b), here is the easy way:

Go to My eBird, and click to view your World Life List

Scroll down and click on the name of "Xantus's Murrelet." You will now see a chronological listing of every Xantus's you have ever reported to eBird.

Next to each entry, click on the date and you will go straight to that checklist, where you can click to edit your species list.

Click the box next to "show subspecies" (you MAY also have to click "show rarities" depending on the region) and you will see the subspecies options for Xantus's appear. Now just move your entry from the lumped species to the correct subspecies, resubmit the list, and you are done. Transfer any species comments you already included with the original submission to the new entry, too; these may wind up going back to the regional editor's review queue again depending on where and when, and you can save him/her the trouble of having to reevaluate it.

In cases where you really cannot determine which one you saw, just leave it as is, and they will be converted to the "slash" form for you. Try not to just make things up to arbitrarily keep the bird on your life list; try to make reasonable assignments based on your notes, memories, and the species' ranges. And it always helps the reviewers if you include a comment explaining your choice, even if it is just to say "no notes, most likely form in this area."

Thanks for saving the eBird crew stress, work, and headaches!

Bill Pulliam
Hohenwald TN
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