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Subject: Re: Red-crowned Parrot
From: Bill Pranty <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Bill Pranty <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Thu, 24 May 2001 01:38:40 -0000

text/plain (117 lines)

Hi David,

I have an answer about the "countability" of the Red-crowned Parrot, but it
may not answer your question as worded.

I do not own a copy of the ABA Checklist, so I can't comment on whether the
American Birding Association considers the Red-crowned Parrot to be
"countable" in Florida.

On the other hand, I'm not sure whether ABA’s opinion amounts to  much. Last
year, the "Official State List of the Birds of Florida as Compiled by the
Florida Ornithological Society Records Committee" was published in "Florida
Field Naturalist" (28: 149-160).

Whether ABA rules over the FOSRC or vice versa may be a matter of debate,
but I'm going with the FOSRC.

The FOSRC's "Official" list is defined as being, "A list of modern bird
species definitely having occurred in Florida by natural appearance or by
establishment of an exotic. The base list shall be the Supplement: Checklist
of Florida Birds, pp. 255-260 in Robertson & Woolfenden (1992), as updated
by final decisions of the Florida Ornithological Society's Records
Committee. The list is updated through 3 June 2000..."

Robertson and Woolfenden (1992, Florida Bird Species: An Annotated List,
Florida Ornithological Society Special Publication No. 6, Gainesville)
placed the Red-crowned Parrot in their "Appendix B: Probably Unestablished
Exotics" (pp. 171-177). The 16 species in that list are defined as sharing
the following characteristics,: "1) They certainly or presumably required
human assistance to reach Florida; 2) They breed or presumably once bred
regularly in Florida; 3) As of the end of 1991, none of them seemed to have
a self-sustaining wild population in Florida.”

In their account of the Red-crowned Parrot, R&W stated, “Free-flying
individuals first seen in the Miami area ca. 1970, and reported nesting
there and on Key Largo as early as 1973 .... Nested in Broward Co. by 1974
... and in Palm Beach Co. by 1979 ... By the early 1980s, nesting at several
additional localities and flocks of 50 to 100 seen at roosts. But, as of
1991, thought to have declined sharply, at least around Miami ... and
establishment considered doubtful. No confirmed nesting in [Miami-]Dade Co.
during FBBA [Florida Breeding Bird Atlas] surveys, 1986-1991 ... Reports
away from the southeastern coastal strip (St. Augustine, Bradenton,
Sarasota) probably were based on individuals that escaped locally.”

There has been no updated information published for the Red-crowned Parrot
in Florida, so R&W (1992) still stands.

Susan Epps has recently observed larger counts of R-c Parrots (up to 204
individuals) at the Fort Lauderdale roost than R&W reported, but her
observations suggest no more than perhaps 50-75 breeding pairs and young
birds. A population this small, even though it has apparently persisted for
nearly 30 years (although this can only be presumed; little supporting data
are available) likely never will be considered to be truly established.

For the record, Stevenson and Anderson (1994, The Birdlife of Florida,
University Press of Florida, Gainesville), have this to say about
Red-crowned Parrots (pp. 347) “Apparently established in Broward Co...”

But the FOSRC apparently disagrees with this opinion.

As to the Muscovy Duck, R&W considered the species established in Florida,
so the FOSRC does also. R&W had this to say about Muscovys: “...Established
in the state mostly or altogether by escaped or released domestic stock, but
at least a few wild-caught individuals were introduced. Uncommon to locally
very common resident of lakes, canals, and rock pits throughout, principally
in suburban areas. Irregular, rare to uncommon in natural wetlands ....
Several reviewers questioned our including this species, but free-flying,
vigorously reproducing duck populations dominated by individuals that
resemble C. moschata are now almost ubiquitous on Florida’s suburban

There was discussion about Muscovys on FLORIDABIRDS about six weeks ago, and
I asked for the opinions of birders concerning the “countability” of the
species in Florida. I never posted the responses like I promised to, so I
will do this now.

I received 29 comments, mostly in support of counting Muscovys because of
their sheer numbers in Florida. It seems pretty clear that there are TENS OF
THOUSANDS, if not HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of Muscovy Ducks in Florida,
certainly far more than other “countable” species such as Budgerigar,
Spot-breasted Oriole, or Red-whiskered Bulbul, and probably more than Monk

Brad Bergstrom brought up an excellent point, that being that if most
Muscovy Ducks are hybrids (mostly with Mallards), then they should not be
counted. This makes sense to me. I received an e-mail from Sarah Stai, a
doctoral student at the University of Miami, who is studying Muscovy Ducks
in Brazil. Sarah has also studied the Muscovys in southern Florida to some
degree and confirms that the “vast majority” she has seen are, “heavily
domesticated but ‘pure’ Cairina moschata.”

P. William Smith also responded, and provided a reference (that I have not
read): Donkin, R.A. 1989. The Muscovy Duck, Cairina moschata domestica. A.A.
Balkema, Rotterdam. In this monograph, Donkin claims that, "Hybrids of the
Muscovy and ... Anas platyrhynchos [=Mallards] ...are sterile..."

In this case, with most of Florida’s Muscovy Ducks being “pure,” then R&W
seem to be correct to consider them established in the state.

Whew, long e-mail!

Best regards,


Bill Pranty
Audubon of Florida
410 Ware Boulevard, Suite 702
Tampa, Florida 33619
813-623-4086 FAX
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