[CT Birds] [NOSbird] Purple gallinule

Chris Elphick elphick at sbcglobal.net
Fri Oct 2 07:41:30 EDT 2015

Hi Tom,
You are absolutely right that conservation should not be restricted to endangered species, and I'm a strong advocate for the mantra of "keeping common birds common".  The bluebird analogy is a poor one however.  There is good reason to believe that nest sites for bluebirds have declined due to a reduction of snags and natural tree cavities in the landscape.  Building nest boxes directly addresses that issue, and so it is not unreasonable to think that it might help bluebird populations.  It is very hard to see, however, how capturing this bird will help protect wetlands or reverse sea level rise.  And science tells us very clearly that prolonging the life of one individual in a population of this size will have no appreciable effect on that population's ability to persist.  As I said previously the solution to that problem is protecting habitat and for every one of us (me included, perhaps especially) to get much more serious about reducing consumption.  

I don't disagree that there are other reasons to capture this bird, but it is very clear that conservation is not one of them.  Moreover, the evidence that it cannot fly, or that it won't survive is circumstantial at best.  I've seen it fly short distances, wing stretch, etc.  It clearly has some injury, but it can certainly use the wing and it is not all that unusual to see birds in a similar state.  There is certainly a risk it might die, but for an out of range bird with winter coming, that would be true even if it were not injured.  Close to half the birds currently in CT will die in the next year - that is normal (and would be the case even if humans were not around).  Given this bird's mobility, my guess (having caught 1000s of birds of 100s of species over the years) is that it could be hard to catch, and there is a risk of doing more damage by trying to capture such a mobile bird (though spotlighting or a walk-in rail trap could certainly work, especially if done by someone with appropriate experience).  Maybe that risk is worth it, maybe not.  For these reasons, I reiterate, I personally would not attempt to capture it.  Of course, you and others are welcome to disagree.

I promised Roy last night that I would not prolong this debate on the list and I doubt that I have much more to contribute at this point.  If you or others would like to continue the discussion off-line, I'd be happy to do that.  
Chris Elphick @ssts 
Storrs, CT 
elphick at sbcglobal.net

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