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Mike Grant discribes seeing a bird on Lake Michegan, which matched the picture of a Red-necked Stint in his field guide but was turned down by the Michegan records committee because certain details were lacking in the write-ups. He opines that there have been RN Stints in the Central Flyway for years.

The point of my post, entitled "The Barksdale hypothesis," is that the Lake Contrary bird is probably not the only  R-N Stint in the Central Flyway right now. However, I do not doubt that Red-necked Strints have also been in the Central Flyway in the past. Indeed, Tommie Rogers e-mailed me (before the bird showed up at Lake Contrary) that she had seen the species twice in Tennessee, once in summer plumage, once in basic plumage. That was one reason why I facetiously included Red-necked Stint  in a "wish list" of birds that I posted a week before the bird showed up at Lake Contrary.

There are several reasons why a records committee might reject a Red-necked Stint record, even though it were submitted by experienced observers. Based upon plumage coloration alone, Sanderlings in alternate plumage (or fading out of it) can look very much like field guide illustrations of Red-necked Stints. Highly competant observers have mistaken Sanderlings for Red-necked Stints more than once in the past. A write-up that does not exclude the possibility of Sanderling convincingly should be rejected by a committee.  Likewise, Little Stints are very colorful in alternate plumage. Even if Sanderling is excluded by size, Little Stint must also be carefully ruled out  before any committee will accept a record of so rare a bird as a Red-necked Stint.

Of course, rejection by a records committee does not mean the ID was not proven. It just means it was not proven "beyond a reasonable doubt," which is the proper standard for accepting first state records (as well as for criminal convictions in a court of law.)


Bob Fisher
Independence, MO
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