Tag Archives: ABA

ABA Bird #981 – the Nutmeg Mannikin

Nutmeg Mannikin 1The September 7 post ABA Adds Nutmeg Mannikin, #981 by the ABA blogger Bill Pranty, announced the acceptance of species #981, the Nutmeg Mannikin, to the list of ABA countable species.  According to the California Bird Records Committee (CBRC) the Nutmeg Mannikin is an established species in certain regions of California which, in the end, was good enough for ABA acceptance.  It can now be counted but only in those regions.

When we lived in Southern California we knew of this bird’s existence through the short entry on a page of exotic finches near the back of our first edition copy of The Sibley Guide to Birds published in 2000.  We never actually saw one of these while we lived there (we left in 2005) but we did eventually see one on a vacation to the island of Kaua’I in 2012.  They have been long established on the Hawaiian Islands having been introduced in 1866 [Ref 2] and are on the AOU checklist which includes Hawai’i.  Even though most of the rest of the world recognizes this species by the name Scaly-breasted Munia, the ABA has the tradition of using the AOU name first if available.  Bill Pranty in his post hints that an AOU name change could eventually result in a change to the more widespread name that is also the name recognized by the International Ornithologists’ Union [Ref 4].

I tried to find out where the alternate name of Nutmeg Mannikin came from but have so far been unsuccessful.  All I have been able to discover is that in the pet trade the more common names are Nutmeg Mannikin or Spice Finch. If anyone knows the answer I would love to find out.

If you want more information on the Nutmeg Mannikin, take a look at Bill Pranty’s blog article.  It has lots more information and useful links.  I now have one more bird to look for on my next visit to Southern California.

Nutmeg Mannikins In Birdfeeder

References and Other Links

[1] ABA Adds Nutmeg Mannikin, #981; 2013-09-07 ABA blog posting by Bill Pranty.

[2] Monograph: Nutmeg Mannikin, from the Bishop Museum (http://hbs.bishopmuseum.org).

[3] Houston Audubon Birding: Nutmeg Mannikin (Lonchura punctulata).  This link has an identification chart showing a juvenile mannikin photographed weekly until it reached adult plumage.  I wish that I could have such a chart for all birds in my area.

[4] International Ornithologists’ Union: World Bird List.

[5] Wikipedia: Scaly-breasted Munia.

Birding Song Parodies by Young Birders

A couple of mornings ago, I came across the following ABA blog post by ABA president Jeff Gordon: Ladies and Gentlemen, LIVE from Camp Avocet…Pish & Twitch!!!. For anyone who likes birding and musical parodies it’s worth a listen (I missed breakfast and was almost late for a dentist appointment trying to make it through the YouTube links).

In a nutshell: Camp Avocet is an ABA run summer camp for young birders and Pish & Twitch is a musical duo newly formed by two of the campers Caleb and Brendan. Following a long tradition in song parody, they took well-known tunes and replaced the lyrics to poke fun at, in this case, birding and birders. Five songs were recorded and can be found on YouTube, through the links in Jeff’s article.

The first three songs (in posted order) used contemporary tunes the only one of which I recognized was their second song “Moves Like Jaeger” which was obviously a parody of the Maroon 5 and Christina Aguilera hit “Moves Like Jagger”. The other two tunes were lifers for me once I made identifications with the help of my phone’s SoundHound app.  The first song “Chase Me Maybe” about going after rare bird sightings, covered “Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Japsen and the third tune, about night-time bird call identification, “Flight Calls”, used the melody (if you can call it that) from “Thrift Shop” by “Party DJ Rockerz”.

The final two songs were based on well known hits from my own youth. The first of these was “Migrants Go By” sung to the Don Mclean hit “American Pie”. Impressively, they covered the 8-plus-minute long version and not one of the shorter radio-friendly variants. And finally, the song, “Bill Stewart”, clearly aimed at all of the camp leaders, was sung to the Billy Joel hit “Piano Man”.

It wasn’t what you might call a ‘tight’ performance as they had obviously bitten off more than they had time to practice for but that did not seem to detract from the energy in the room.  Besides, the hard part of a parody is crafting the lyrics and there they did some excellent work.

If you are a part or or even just familiar with birding culture then you will probably enjoy listening to Pish and Twitch.