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Your comments bring to mind the barnacle geese that have been seen in
recent winters in New Jersey.  We would have made the trip to see them,
but we are suspicious of their origins. I guess we'll just have to make
the run to Baffin Island to be sure!

Doug Wassmer & Lilian Saul
Tampa, FL
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-----Original Message-----
From: Florida Birds [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of
Brian Monk
Sent: Saturday, November 30, 2002 4:03 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [FLBIRDS] Eurasian Wigeon and other Waterfowl Hybrids

Hi Y'all,

       I would like to raise an often overlooked point concerning
Eurasian
Widgeon, in regard to birding in general and the biology of North
American
Waterfowl in particular.

       It does not surprise me in the slightest that this bird MAY be of
mixed blood with American Widgeon.  Most importantly, waterfowl
hybridize
more frequently and more readily than any other group of birds.  Any who
doubt this should go find reports of Goldeneye x Wood Duck hybrids!  Let
alone two species as close as these Widgeons.  Those who raise orchids
may
see a certain similarity here.

       Now for the thorn of the rose that is this special bird that we
love
to list (fanfare here, please) - Eurasian Widgeon.  Emphasis on "list,"
as I
believe that listing, at times, leads to overzealousness, which leads to
the
acceptance of bad sightings.

       Humans like to collect things.  Look at us birders.  We collect
sightings.  However you slice it, we are collectors, though only of
memories.
 Other humans prefer their collections to be more physical.  Within this
group are those that actually prefer their collections to be ALIVE.  And
further within this group is a population that collects waterfowl.  ALL
KINDS
of waterfowl.  And some breed them.  And some don't keep track of them.
And
some don't prevent them from flying away.  Which seems stupid,
considering
the lengths to which these collectors go to get these birds to begin
with.
Nevertheless, escape is a common occurrence.

       Now for the point of this rambling.  Let me state a plain and
bald-faced fact, and let no one misunderstand this:  EURASIAN WIDGEON IS
THE
SINGLE MOST KEPT BIRD IN CAPTIVE WATERFOWL COLLECTIONS.  Why is this
important?  There are two reasons, and I will state them in the form of
questions that should strike at the curious side of every birder.

       First, why do we automatically accept every sighting of Eurasian
Widgeon, without considering origin.  Certainly, some sightings aren't
accepted (The lone widgeon on an inland farm pond with a flock of feral
mallards - though sightings such as this HAVE been accepted).  But every
single bird that shows up on either coast is simply written down.
Certainly
the ID is not difficult, but I question the origin of some of these
birds (As
in, any bird that shows up at any time other than fall, or maybe
spring).

       Second, we accept Eurasian Widgeon automatically for most
sightings,
especially on the coasts.  So what about other waterfowl?  Is it
inconceivable that they can make the same journeys that Eurasian Widgeon
make?  We KNOW that the Greenland race of White-Fronted Goose
occasionally
makes it to the Mid-Atlantic states.  Yet almost every sighting of
"insert
European waterfowl species here" is rejected out of hand as an escape,
or at
best "origin uncertain."

       I'm not suggesting that "origin uncertain" is a bad tag, or that
all
sightings are "origin uncertain," or that all Eurasian waterfowl are
"origin
uncertain."  What I am suggesting is that we as birders sometimes are
very
quick to accept or reject many of these sightings out of hand, without
further investigation into the presence of these birds within captive
populations or patterns of seasonal/geographical occurence.

       Mostly, I guess I'm just thinking out loud, but I thought this
might
spark some interesting conversation!

Brian Monk, DVM
Destin, FL
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850-650-6158

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