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.)