IORC Evaluation of Barnacle Goose Records

Barnacle Goose by Davida Kalina

Barnacle Goose by Davida Kalina

The question of origin of Barnacle Geese that are observed in Illinois is not straightforward, at least not for making an “official” decision as is the case for members of the Illinois Ornithological Records Committee (IORC). IORC does have plans to do a careful evaluation of a number of these records. I am aware of twenty distinct occurrences of Barnacle Goose in Illinois, in numbers from one to three, with varying amounts of evidence behind them. The twenty include this current bird. (See IOS Rare Bird Alerts.) Documentation of four of these, including the current McLean County bird, has been submitted to IORC for evaluation. In the two cases that have been decided (the 1998 Winnebago Co. bird and the 2013 McLean Co. bird), IORC did not accept the records on the basis of origin. A third case (2015 Mercer Co. observation with three birds involved) was documented, but a decision is still pending. This one now represents a fourth record for which documentation has been submitted to IORC. I won’t make a prediction of when IORC will be done with its work, but I am hopeful that it can be done without excessive delay. The possibility exists for IORC to revisit the prior records that were not accepted, depending on the outcome of its investigations.

The question of countability is simpler. If you feel a Barnacle Goose that you observe in Illinois is of wild origin, you may count it in your list totals that you report to the American Birding Association (ABA). For Listers Corner, maintained by the Illinois Ornithological Society (IOS), until Barnacle Goose gets on the state list, you may not count it. In no situation does IORC’s decision on any particular record have any say on whether birders may count their sighting on ABA or IOS lists. For lists that you keep for your own purposes, the ABA and IOS have nothing to say about the matter, and you are free to do what you think is appropriate.

Information about IORC can be found at the IOS Web site.

Geoff Williamson
Secretary, IORC

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