If, as Dave Seibel alleges, the bird was collected, there is more to it than
the dubious justification that it was done for science. The collector
crossed a state line and took a bird that a lot of  Missourians (not to
mention quite a few Kansans) were enjoying back to his own state for his own

In weighing the advantages to science of killing an individual vs the
sensibilities of a community that values the individual alive,  the
community's desires and interests deserve a lot of weight. I hope that
appropriate Missouri officials will hear of it and tell the collector not to
collect birds in Missouri again.

Bob Fisher
Independence, Missouri
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----- Original Message -----
From: "David Seibel" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Thursday, September 23, 2004 11:28 AM
Subject: Re: In defense of the shooting of the Smithville Gull

> Jackie,
> Well said.  A very intelligent and thoughtful analysis of a touchy and
> inflammatory situation, exacerbated by the flippancy of the initial
> I have it on impeccable authority that the gull was in fact collected.  In
> this instance, I don't believe the specimen would have been necessary for
> reliable identification, thanks to Kyle Gerstner's excellent photos and
> gull's tameness and site fidelity, but you have pointed out several
> additional kinds of information that can be gleaned only from the bird in
> hand.  It will be up to individuals to decide whether they think that
> scientific advancement justifies killing a bird, but before being too
> judgmental we should each consider our own choices of food and apparel.
> Except for vegetarians who wear plastic shoes, chances are we have all
> placed a higher value on our comfort than at least one animal's life, and
> would argue that even "trivial" scientific advancement has greater
> merit than that.
> David Seibel
> [log in to unmask]
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Birds & Their Habitats in Kansas
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Sent: 9/23/2004 10:51 AM
> Subject: In defense of the shooting of the Smithville Gull
> Hello fellow birders,
> I do not know the details of the shooting of the gull. The flippant
> reporting of the shooting makes me wonder if it happened at all. My
> defense
> of the shooting hinges on the assumption that the collector had proper
> permits (state and federal) and that the specimen will be deposited into
> a
> scientific collection. If this is not the case, I could not defend the
> shooting.
> Vagrant specimens are valuable to scientific collections, beyond their
> DNA.
> They document the potential of a species to wander and the pattern of
> wanderings. In the latest issue of the American Birding Association's
> journal: North American Birds, the feature article highlights vagrant
> "Black" Brant subspecies. This is an often over-looked subspecies that
> might not have been documented had not specimens been collected. By the
> way... if you do not subscribe to this journal, you are missing out on a
> lot of the new, in-depth studies of variation in plumage and
> distributions
> of birds in North America (See
> For another example, look at the following article: Idzikowski, John.
> 2002.
> A Possible Nineteenth-Century Murre from Milwaukee. Passenger Pigeon
> 64(3):151-161. This is a detailed analysis of a Thick-billed Murre
> specimen
> in a the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee's collection. The data
> coincided
> with other specimens collected in Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Ontario,
> Pennsylvania, and New York. The analysis of this specimen has added
> Thick-billed Murre to the WI checklist.
> In general, collections document not only the presence of a bird (which
> could have been obtained from a photograph), but also morphometrics
> (measurements required for identification in some species), various
> internal attributes (what the bird was eating, adaptations/modifications
> of
> the internal organs, concentration of toxins in various tissues), and
> the
> variations in plumage. Stable isotope analysis of feathers allows us to
> determine where the bird last molted or if there are shifts in diet over
> time. An recent article detected a shift in diet of a pelagic seabird in
> California by comparing isotopes from museum specimens before, during,
> and
> after the collapse of a certain commercial fishing industry. We cannot
> predict what is needed for future research, so anything we can preserve
> might be valuable. For general information about the uses of museum
> collections, the cover story in a recent article of Winging It, another
> publication. If anyone would like to read this article, please contact
> me.
> I would be happy to mail you a copy.
> It is disappointing that you and I will not be able to see a rare gull
> and
> add it to our life lists. However, those of you that did see it, it will
> now be documented and correctly ID'd by various means: behavior,
> plumage,
> morphometrics, and DNA. If someone does stable isotope analysis on the
> specimen, we might even figure out where it came from. Had the specimen
> not
> been collected, its true identity may have remained a mystery and it
> would
> not have been added to any list. We will also have more information
> available to us when future rare gulls present themselves.
> Thank you for reading this letter. I would like to hear your comments.
> Could someone please forward this letter to the MOBirds listserve?
> Thank you,
> Jackie Nooker
> Manhattan KS
> [log in to unmask]
> For KSBIRD-L archives or to change your subscription options, go to
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