[LACoBirds] Frequent misidentifications in eBird

Dave Compton

A helpful post from Kimball Garrett on eBird ID problems, this one specifically on African Collared-Doves versus Eurasian Collared-Doves.

Dave Compton
Santa Barbara
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Kimball Garrett kgarrett@... [LACoBirds] <LACoBirds-noreply@...>
Date: Thu, May 4, 2017 at 2:47 PM
Subject: [LACoBirds] Frequent misidentifications in eBird
To: "LACoBirds@..." <LACoBirds@...>




On occasion I’d like to point out some common identification issues that we encounter in eBird from Los Angeles County (and neighboring) users.  Some of these involve claimed rarities or otherwise scarce species, but most reflect confusion between common local species.  One need only to review photos (in eBird, choose “Explore Data” then “Search Photos and Sounds” and filter the location by entering “Los Angeles” to pull up media from L. A. County only) to get a sense of the scale of the problem -- you shouldn’t have to scroll far to find a misidentified photo.  This is more than a bit scary when one considers how many birds NOT photographed are also misidentified.


In this first installment, I wanted to point out that I’ve seen many reports throughout California of “African Collared-Dove” or “African Collared-Dove (domestic type or Ringed Turtle-Dove).”  While this species is occasionally seen in the wild as an escapee (or a survivor of ceremonial release), individuals don’t seem to survive for long and the only known small populations (e.g. near downtown Los Angeles in the 19502 to 1970s) have long since died out. Many birders do not seem to know that it is common – routine even – to see pale individual Eurasian Collared-Doves within flocks of that species. Some of these birds are very pale creamy to whitish, and they often appear a bit smaller than the “normal” Eurasians with them.  I suspect, but can’t prove without more research, that these pale individuals also tend to have less black in the tail, thus rendering one of the best characters for telling AfrCD from EurCD unhelpful.


There may be individuals that can’t be identified, and I suppose there could even be hybrids out there. But please don’t enter a pale creamy or whitish Streptopelia dove as “African Collared-Dove (domestic or Ringed-Turtle Dove)” without confirmation from vocalizations.  EurCDs give the very familiar three-note ‘coo-coooo-coo” call (exact quality and emphasis can vary a bit), whereas AfrCDs have a two-note call, with the second note lower and drawn out, as in ‘cu-crruuUUuuuu’. Also, AfrCDs do not give the loud, growling “excitement call” that is so typical of EUrCD (the AfrDC excitement call is a softer and higher-pitcher whinnying). As always, XenoCanto < http://www.xeno-canto.org/ > is a great place to review and compare vocalizations [hint – when searching for collared-dove recordings, leave out the hyphen – i.e. use ‘collared dove’ instead of ‘collared-dove’ since Xeno-Canto unfortunately uses a nomenclature that eschews hyphens].


More to come, as there is no shortage of ID issues! Among these, in no particular order, will be: Empidonax (and empids vs. Hutton’s Vireo, etc.), Willow Flycatcher vs. wood-pewee, Herring Gulls, hummingbirds, American vs. Lesser Goldfinch, Purple vs. Cassin’s Finch, streaky sparrows, etc.




Kimball L. Garrett

Ornithology Collections Manager

Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County

900 Exposition Blvd.

Los Angeles, CA 90007 USA

(213) 763-3368




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