FYI, although the ABA considers the eastern whooping cranes to be countable because they cannot be distinguished from wild-born birds, a message posted to this forum last month  stated that the four birds at Kaskaskia were part of last fall's "direct autumn release" cohort. So these are in fact captive bred birds that were released to find their own migratory route. Not really wild (yet), but certainly worth seeing!

John Besser 
Columbia MO

On Sunday, February 14, 2016, William Rowe <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
First of all, the question about countability must refer to rules set by the ABA, since that is the only organization that creates such rules -- and let's be clear, the rules apply only to those who wish to submit their list numbers to the ABA and have their names published. Otherwise, as the saying goes, your list is your own and you can put whatever you like on it.

That said, and assuming one does want to go along with their listing standards, their latest rule on reintroduced species says,

"An individual of a reintroduced indigenous species may be counted if it is part of a population that has successfully hatched young in the wild or when it is not possible to reasonably separate the reintroduced individual from a wild-born individual."

and they interpret this for Whooping Cranes as follows:

"WI-FL migratory population – Countable – First confirmed wild hatching on 22 June 2006"

So it would appear that the cranes are solidly countable for an ABA-area life list, based on a wild nesting and hatching (in Wisconsin, I presume).

It's a separate question whether these cranes would go into the official record for the states of Illinois and Missouri as wild birds, given that at least a lot of them are still being reared with human assistance. I'm not sure about either state without further checking. But the states are not in the business of monitoring people's personal lists; only the ABA does that, and only if one wants to follow their rules and participate in their listing activities.

I might add that this rule is new and also makes several other reintroduced species countable that previously were not, like the California Condor, which is now countable in all of the areas where is presently occurs (since it has successfully raised young in the wild in all of them, in addition to the cage-reared birds that have been released).

Hope this helps,

Bill Rowe
St. Louis
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John Besser
Columbia MO
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The Audubon Society of Missouri's Wild Bird Discussion Forum
Archives / Subscription options / ASM Website / Email the list owners

ABA Birding Code of Ethics

ASM Spring Meeting: April 29 - May 1, 2016 at Bunker Hill Retreat near Mountain View, MO Details and Online Registration