Xantus's Hummingbird Deliberations (long)

Michael Price mprice at mindlink.bc.ca
Tue Feb 9 22:57:29 PST 1999

Hi Tweets,

Scott Downes writes:


>I would like to publically say that I am very impressed by the amount of

>thought and reason you gave the bird, amazingly some of the points you had

>brought up I was not thinking about. When somebody makes a decision based

>on that much careful thought and research I must support their decision

>either way.

The Rarity Report as Police Procedural? (grin)

>I do confess that if it came down to my voting on the issue a

>doubt has always lingered in my mind and I really could not say which way

>I would favor.

Well, if you're not certain beyond reasonable doubt, the most conservative
course is to vote against or, if your committee has the luxury of a 'pending
further data' category for long-term evaluation, bung it into the 'pending'
file and hope for enough additional observations within your lifetime to
make eventual sense of the one sighting.

>My hunch is that the bird was blown off of land by the

>hurricane and would normally have died if it had not been transported by

>ship, plane or some other foreign object. So I doubt it was a *kept* bird,

>yet the probability of it reaching here under its own power is a little

>hard to swallow as well. So thank you again for your detailed comments.

Now that you mention it, ship assist is a plausible possibility, Scott, one
that I think we all overlooked. Gibson's (and the Patterson's house)
overlooks Georgia Strait, an inland passsage for all kinds of shipping
heading for the northern exit to the Pacific Ocean through Queen Charlotte
Sound. It's possible that when the ship was directly adjacent to the Sechelt
Peninsula, that part of the mainland where Gibsons is, it thought it was
home and jumped ship and thanks-for-the-ride. Could be.

Only how would the bird feed while aboard? Would crew, captain or passengers
chip in to buy a feeder? Maybe the ship already had one for use when moored
in tropical ports--not all sailors head for the dives (just rantin', roarin'
Rowlett-san ashore from his many seabird surveys, arrrr). Certainly if blown
out to sea by Rick or Nora, spotting, then hanging on for dear life on a
(northbound) freighter or cruise ship is a plausible way to survive *and* to
get here all the way north, if either hummingbird feeding or a long torpor
(though there's something inadequate about that second alternative) is assumed.

Interesting possibility you've raised, Scott-- thanks!

Michael Price
Vancouver BC Canada

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