Volume XXIII, No. 3
PUBLISHED BY THE ORNITHOLOGY GROUP. OUTDOOR NATURE CLUB, HOUSTON. TEXAS
A BIRDER'S CHECKLIST OF THE UPPER TEXAS COAST - by Noel Pettingell (co-compiler with
T. Ben Feltner)
Two years - almost to the day - were required to get the 5th edition of the Upper
Texas Coast Checklist into print ~ from Nov. 21, 1972, when publication of the checklist was first discussed with OG Chairwoman, Marilyn Crane, until Nov.22, 1974, when
the field cards finally came off the presses. During this period, the compilers
found it necessary to schedule some 18 meetings of several hours duration each in
order to work out definitions and annual relative frequency in graphic form of some
343 species of birds occurring regularly in the UTC area. The five degrees of relative abundance or scarcity generally indicate the ease or difficulty of finding a
species during any field trip in the appropriate season and/or habitat, as well as
depicting known presence of the species by population and/or extent of range within
the checklist area. The compilers also allowed for the fact that some species may
be present in considerable numbers while at the same time not as easily found as other less abundant species and also that some species may be readily identified by song
or call in spring and early summer, yet not be as easily found by sight alone at other times of the year, even though there be no significant decrease In population during non-singing periods. Realizing that graphics alone cannot always denote the relative ease or difficulty of finding species at any given time of the year, the compilers decided to include a series of 8 definitions numerically coded to denote ease or
difficulty of field identification for all 343 species as well as secretive, local,
and erratic species. Current, former, and suspected nesting species are also denoted
by appropriate sympol.
Much time during many of the 18 meetings was also spent by the compilers in making
determinations of whether to accept or reject vagrant and accidental records as well
as out-of-season reports. Unfortunately, lack of published substantiation necessitated the omission of numerous sightings of species outside their normal ranges or
seasons. In between meetings, additional records, both old and new, were incorporated into the preliminary draft and other revisions made in response to suggestions by
knowledgeable UTC Birders.
After the final pencilled draft was completed, it was turned over to James Hargrove,
who translated the 7 pages of graphic information into a computer printout. After
the printout had been proofread by the compilers and Hargrove it was fed into a computer (Data General Corporation Nova 800) which passed the translated numerical data
on to a plotter (Calcom P Model 738) which in turn reproduced in graphic form (by
means of India ink) all 7 pages onto mylar sheets at twice the actual size of the
checklist. The rest of the operation was completed by the printer (Wetmore and Co.),
which involved reducing the graphics to checklist size and typesetting bird names on
the 7 graphic as well as vagrant species pages, plus reproducing all data appearing
on the other 7 pages.
There is only one error on the finished checklist, and it appears under "Explanatory
Notes" and should be revised as follows:
Change: "Very rare and vagrant occurrences are based on acceptable records from
1960 through September 1974".
To: "Very rare and vagrant occurrences are based on acceptable records from
1935 through September 1974".
Principal contributor are: Margaret Anderson, Victor L. Emanuel, T. Ben Feltner, Dan
H. Hardy, Elric N. McHenry, Arlie K. McKay, Norma C. Oates, Noel Pettingell and
Stephen G. Williams.