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an Allen's, he said you can not be sura without getting the tall fea+hers, which Is
wha+ we already knew from +he literature.
Van Remson did say that there Is a diagnostic behavioral characteristic when the male
begins displaying. He described the Allen's display as follows. The bird starts the
display by going back and forth in a low arc about 5 times, making a "Zee...dadada,
Zee...dadada" vocalization. Then the bird shoots straight up Into the air and comes
down with a "pop" at the end of Its dive. According to Remson, the Rufous Hummingbird does not swing in the low arc before it begins its display. Again Remson says
this is a diagnostic behavioral characteristic.
Conclusion: It Is my opinion that the Atkins' bird Is not a Rufous Hummingbird. I
believe Fred and Ted share this view. Also, the odds of a hybrid being here are
probably less than the odds of an Allen's being on the UTC. Thus, I believe we can
say that the bird Is a "highly probable" Allen's Hummingbird. However, It can not
be determined for sure without tall measurements (preferably the feathers are plucked
...which does not Injure the bird...and saved) or the diagnostic aerial display.
If nothing else, Its fun learning more about these two species. —-Jim Morgan
COMMENT FROM THE SPOONBILL EDITOR
We can learn much from the "search for truth" engendered by the UTC appearance of an
occasional puzzler such as the Allen's hummer, it sometimes seems very hard to accept the fact there could be doubt about the Identity of a "text-book" bird, but
there are those who feel that as long as there are well-known, long-and-wldely-stud-
led problems In establishing the Identity of a particular species, there must remain
doubt In their minds. In the Instance of the Allen's hummer, Jim's digging for Information has shown two ways to remove the doubt as pointed out by Van Remson.... net
th. bird sn-! m^asur; the tail fea+hers, and/or the aerial display. Hopefully,
ano+her attempt to net this bird will be made, and/or the bird will remain long
enough to display!
(J!m Vardaman, who made such a valiant run for 700 species last year, removed a
Siberian Chickadee (a bird he had made a special trip to Edmonton, Canada to see)
from his I ls+ when 1+ was la+er netted, studied, and pronounced a leucistlc Black-
capped Chickadee. At the time of sighfipg, the Canadian experts who showed him the
bird had no doubt It was a Siberian Chickadee, but in-hand study proved otherwise.)
Then there are those who feel that "text-book" appearance Is enough, and it Is their
privilege if they wish to add a well-seen and well-studied bird to their "list"....
life, year's, whatever...for one's list Is one's own. And this _ls_ their privilege.
There are no hard-and-fast, a I!-encompassIng "rules" in birding. There are many ways
Individuals get their pleasure from birding, and It is the individual's choice as to
what makes one comfortable when adding or not adding a species to one's list.
The Editor feels that In a case such as the Atkins' Allen's hummer, we must allow
the holder of a differing opinion the same privilege of choice we want for ourselves.
Anyway, It jLs_ a lot of fun learning more about any of the birds we so enjoy watching,
whether we list, don't list, or keep no list at all!
AND AN EXPLANATION FROM THE EDITOR
It is a well-known fact among her friends that the Editor can't abide a vacancy, in
conversation or on a page of THE SPOONBILL. So....last month, confronted by the
need to fill a space on the last page, and time fading fast, she dug out a stencil
of a drawing by Ben Feltner, and, cognizant of the Larry Balch article In-the December Issue on problems of Identification, decided to have a little fun and possibly
give the readers a little exercise. Larry Balch said one of the problems Is "seeing" what you expect to see, or being swayed by a pronouncement. Did my purposefully
misleading caption mislead any of you more than momentarily into expecting anything
o+rer than a Long-billed Curlew? From the response, i+ gave some of you a moment or
+wo of puzzled conjecture as to what. If anything, you might be missing!
ANOTHER BIG YEAR RECORD
You have heard much about Jim Vardaman's attempt at setting a record of 700 birds in
1979, but we now learn from SIGNAL SMOKE that Alma Barrera set out to surpass Ben
Fel+ner's 1973 record of 431 species seen in Texas, and she succeeded, wi+h a total
of 452 birds! This included the only Jacana seen (Sept.) at Maner Lake in over a