Thursday, 17 January 2008

"Pieces of Eight" or ,"I say Species you say Faeces"

Wow ! As regular readers will know I am well versed in the martial art of defending the Scotbill cause on Bird Forum. However, things have taken an interesting twist in THIS thread where I am actually defending Parrot Crossbill as a species ! Really. Apparently all crossbills are 'one species' cos someone in a lab coat once shook a couple of test tubes about and someone else then came to this conclusion ! I have my own thoughts on this DNA research which I am not going in to here.

The sad thing is a couple of individuals have posted some well constructed thought provoking material, whilst another particular individual is being deliberately antagonistic and just spouting out a complete pile of crap. Great things blogs - I can write that eg. what I like, without a moderator shouting "naughty, naughty" ! However, being the 'vet' that I am with several 'tours of duty' under my belt I know not to rise and take 'the bait'.

I will continue to combat the whimsical ramblings and psycho babble of spectacled desk based 'ornithologists' with 'facts' and 'evidence' gained from 'experience' in the field.........or maybe I should just go and study Dippers ( or read a book on Crossbills) ?


Jochen said...

You sure?
Ever looked at their subspecific structure and distribution?

The whole crossbill discussion is quite similar to the redpolls. I think it is rather naive to say they (crossbills, redpolls) are the same species only because we - as humans - can't spot any differences.
How cares, as long as the birds can!
The redpolls don't have that many difficulties, apparently, and neither have the crossbills. So we just have to do our homework more thoroughly...


Lindsay Cargill said...

Agree on the crossbills - the 'types' are definitely acting as species. I could possibly accept sub-specific status for some 'types' but not Parrot !

That said, Northern Bullfinch pyrrhula is very different in size from pileata and europaea ! I don't think their food specialisation is different though ??

I like the notion of 'emerging' species to attempt to meet the anagonists in the middle, something which I think we must always we willing to do when it is not clear cut.

Maybe the guys in the lab coats and all the desk ornithologists should just agree on a definitive meaning for the word 'species' and it would save us all a great deal of time arguing whether something fits a PSP, BSP.....! The 'law' is the 'law' after all.

Regarding Scotbill, well, just read "Pine Crossbills"......!

Dippers are the next species I will be working on - hopefully get some pullus ringed this spring and (trying) to do the song as I speak!