Established Non-countable Birds in the Continental ABA-Area

Ever since seeing my first Great Tit visit at suet feeder in a park in Sheboygan, I have been fascinated by the fact that there are many established introduced birds in the ABA area that aren't on the checklist or in anyone's field guide (unless you own The Sibley Guide to Birds). After much research, here are some short profiles detailing all of the non-countable established introduced species in the Continental ABA-Area I could find:

Mandarin Duck - Aix galericulata
Mandarin Ducks were first noted in California in 1970, when hundreds were noted on a ranch in Healdsburg. This species was formerly found throughout much of the state, but it now seems to be restricted to the Los Angeles-San Diego area, the Sacramento area, and Sonoma. The species seems to be dependent on Wood Duck nest boxes in order to successfully breed.

A population of Mandarin Ducks also exists in Utah, in the Salt Lake City area. The first eBird record of a Mandarin Duck in Utah is from 1994, and they were first documented breeding in 2015.

Indian Peafowl - Pavo cristatus
Populations of Indian Peafowl exist in Florida, Texas, British Columbia, and California. It is found throughout much of California, but is best known in the LA area. According to local legend, the California peafowl were introduced by Elias “Lucky” Baldwin, who released the birds (imported directly from India) onto his property in 1880 (this land later became the Los Angeles County Arboretum). This is probably true, but peafowl are widespread enough that they probably came from a series of introductions around the state.

In Florida, Indian Peafowl are found throughout the peninsula. The earliest eBird record of a peafowl in Florida is from 1970. They were probably introduced separately to all of the major cities by homeowners as a yard decoration. This is somewhat ironic considering they are now viewed as a pest that destroys gardens and poops everywhere. In Miami (which has one of the largest populations) it is illegal to harm peafowl or their eggs. The Florida population actually consists mostly of hybrids with the Green Peafowl (Pavo muticus), (these hybrids are known in aviculture as Spalding Peafowl) but no pure Green Peafowl exist wild in the state.

In Texas, Indian Peafowl occur in Austin, Houston, Dallas, and Midland. The earliest of these is the Austin population, which were released around 1930 on private land that is now known as Mayfield Park. The Houston population was introduced by homeowners in the 1980s. All of the Texas populations are slowly spreading into more rural areas, it seems likely that in a few decades the species could exist statewide. Spalding Peafowl are known to occur in Texas, but not in as large of numbers as Florida.

In British Columbia, a population exists in Surrey. The population remains small due to population control measures by the city but it does appear to be self-sustaining.

Rose-ringed Parakeet - Psittacula krameri
Rose-ringed Parakeet populations exist in Florida and California. In California, the species exists in the Los Angeles area, San Diego, and Bakersfield. The Bakersfield population has been extensively studied by Ali Sheehey. They became established in 1977 after a large flock of them escaped from an aviary. The LA area and San Diego populations likely derive from escaped pets. The earliest LA area eBird record is from 1977, and the earliest San Diego record is from 1988.

In Florida, the species is found in the Naples area and probably came from escaped pets. The earliest eBird record of this species in Naples is from 1990.

Mitred Parakeet - Psittacara mitratus
The Mitred Parakeet exists in California, Florida, and possibly New York. In California, well-established in the Los Angeles area, which has been there since the 1980s. It is also present in small numbers in San Jose.

In Florida, the species is present in the Miami area. The earliest eBird record of this population is from 1985.

This species is possibly present in Queens, New York. The birds were first documented around 1985 feeding in trees on a neighborhood in Queens. They showed up there every fall, then disappeared each spring. Juveniles would turn up every year with the rest of the flock, proving they were breeding, but no one knows exactly where they were breeding. I haven’t been able to find any online reference to this population since 2011, but I am not sure if this is because they no longer exist or because no one has been documenting them.

Red-masked Parakeet - Psittacara erythrogenys
Red-masked Parakeets are present in Florida and California. The first record of this species from California is from 1983, although it is likely that they were there before that and were confused with the very similar (and much more common) Mitred Parakeet. They occur in the Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego areas.

In Florida, they are found in the Miami area, with the first record eBird record being from 1985.

This species will hybridize with Mitred anywhere they both occur.

Lilac-crowned Parrot - Amazona finschi
Lilac-crowned Parrots are present in Florida, California, and Texas. In California, they were first documented in 1976 and occur in the Los Angeles and San Diego areas. Unlike other introduced parrots, this species is actually spreading into more rural areas, including both lowland and mountainous regions.

In Florida, this species is present in small numbers in Miami, with the first eBird record being from 1983.

In Texas, Lilac-crowned Parrots are established in the Brownsville area. The first Texas eBird record of this species in Texas is from 1987.

This species will hybridize with the Red-crowned Parrot (Amazona viridigenalis) anywhere they both occur.

Black-throated Magpie-Jay - Calocitta colliei
The Black-throated Magpie-Jay is established in the San Diego area. It is a popular pet species in nearby Tijuana, Mexico, and the population is likely descended from escapees from there. It was first documented here around 2000.

Orange-cheeked Waxbill - Estrilda melpoda
The Orange-cheeked Waxbill is established in the Los Angeles area. It is quite a common pet species in the area and the population likely came from escaped pets. The first eBird record of this species from the LA area is from 1982.

Pin-tailed Whydah - Vidua macroura
The Pin-tailed Whydah is a well-established introduced species in the Los Angeles and San Diego areas. The earliest eBird record of this species from the southern California is from 1996. The species is a brood parasite, and it parasitises the nests of estrelids. Interesting, although some of its native hosts- most notably the Orange-cheeked Waxbill and the Northern Red Bishop (Euplectes franciscanus) - have been introduced to southern California, the only species it uses as a host in North America is the Scaly-breasted Munia (Lonchura punctulata), a species introduced from Asia. This proves that it can change hosts to a species they wouldn’t encounter in the wild in their native range. There are worries it may move on to native species.

This species is occasionally sighted in and around Houston, Texas and there may have a population there, but more research is needed.

Great Tit - Parus major
This species is established in the vicinity of Sheboygan, Wisconsin. They originate from a series of illegal bird releases in the Chicago area in 2004. The species initially moved north to Milwaukee, where they were found until around 2010, when the entire population moved north to Sheboygan. Despite the amount of invasive European plants in the area they seem to prefer native forest and dune habitats.

European Goldfinch - Carduelis carduelis
The North American population of this species originates from the same release of the Great Tit. Unlike the Great Tit, however, this species originally stayed in the Chicago area, but quickly moved out into more rural areas. It is now found throughout much of northeastern Illinois and southeastern Wisconsin. They are not believed to be a threat to native species as they seem to feed almost exclusively on invasive European plants.

Red Junglefowl - Gallus gallus
Populations of the domestic form of the Red Junglefowl (AKA Domestic Chicken or G. g. domesticus) exist in Florida, California, and Texas. A population of the Burmese subspecies (G. g. spadiceus) exists in Georgia.

In California, a small population of Feral Chickens exists in Lincoln. I could find no other information on this population other than a couple of anecdotal reports of lots of chickens being there from a few birders.

In Texas, Sam Houston State University and the surrounding areas are also home to a population of Feral Chickens. I could find no history on this population other than that it is relatively large currently.

In Florida, populations of Feral Chickens exist in the Tampa area (the first eBird report being from 1979), the Miami area (earliest eBird report from 2007), and the Keys, being most common on Key West (first eBird report from 1993).

The Georgia population of wild-type junglefowl (known locally as Burmese Chickens) exist in the town of Fitzgerald. They were introduced by the state in the 1960s in a failed attempt to introduce the species as a game bird. Thousands exist in the town (more than 10 for every resident).

Blue-and-yellow Macaw - Ara ararauna
A population of this species can be found in Miami, where they have existed since the 1980s. They were increasing in numbers until quite recently, however they are now under intense stress from “legal poaching”. The effects of this species on the local ecosystem are not currently understood, so whether this a good thing or not is entirely unclear.

Common Hill Myna - Gracula religiosa
A small population is present in Miami, they were first recorded nesting there in 1973. Formerly common but is now seen only in small numbers.

Red-vented Bulbul - Pycnonotus cafer
Red-vented Bulbuls have existed in Houston since the 1950s. They are now common in many areas. They probably originated from released pets in the Woodland Heights area, although some biologists believe they may have been ship assisted.

Graylag Goose and Swan Goose - Anser anser and Anser cygnoides
These two species (as well as hybrids between the two) make up the common domestic geese of farms, zoos, and private collections. Escapees are incredibly frequent across the continental ABA-area, and it’s very difficult to tell where they are established and where they are simply frequent escapes. As far as I can tell there is population of A. anser in the Los Angeles area (it’s hard to tell if A. cygnoides is involved there or not) and population in Houston made up of A. cygnoides and hybrids.

Yellow-headed Parrot - Amazona oratrix
This species has populations in California and Texas. In California, where it was first documented in 1973, it is found in the LA and San Diego areas.

In Texas, it is found throughout the Rio Grande Valley. The earliest eBird report from the region is from 1960. It is possible that this population actually includes some wild vagrants, similar to the local populations of Red-crowned Parrot (Amazona viridigenalis) and Green Parakeet (Psittacara holochlorus).

Red-lored Parrot - Amazona autumnalis
The Red-lored Parrot has feral populations in the Los Angeles area and the Rio Grande Valley. In the LA area it was first seen breeding in 1997. The population is relatively small and it is usually found in mixed flocks with other amazons.

The earliest Texas eBird record is from 1985.

Blue-crowned Parakeet - Thectocercus acuticaudatus
This species has introduced populations in California and Florida. In California, the species is uncommon and local in San Diego, with the first eBird report being from 2007. A population formerly in the LA area appears to be gone.

The species is much more common in Florida, where it exists in the Miami, Tampa, and Melbourne areas. The first Miami area eBird report is from 1985. The first Tampa eBird report is from 1993. The first Melbourne area eBird report is from 1998. Single birds are occasionally seen elsewhere throughout the state, whether these involve escapees or wandering birds from the established populations is unclear.

White-fronted Parrot - Amazona albifrons
The White-fronted Parrot has been established in the Rio Grande Valley since at least 1982.

Orange-winged Parrot - Amazona amazonica
This species is established in the Miami area. The first eBird is from 1978.

White-eyed Parakeet - Psittacara leucophthalmus
Established in the Miami area. First eBird report is from 1987.

Chestnut-fronted Macaw - Ara severus
This species is established in the Miami area. The first eBird report is from 1978. It has declined in recent years but is still present relatively large numbers in certain areas.

“Japanese White-Eye” - Zosterops species
A species of white-eye in the recently-split Japanese White-Eye complex is established in the Los Angeles and San Diego areas as well as Santa Catalina Island. The species present is currently identified as Swinhoe’s White-Eye (Zosterops simplex), although this is tentative. Despite being introduced only as recently as 2009 they are currently one of the most common bird species in southern California. Based on the effect the introduction of the Warbling White-Eye (Zosterops japonicus) in Hawaii it is worried they may become quite a detrimental invasive species.

This is the only species on this list that is not eligible for the ABA Checklist as it has not yet been present for 15 years.

Silver Pheasant - Lophura nycthemera
Silver Pheasants are established in and around Nanaimo, British Columbia. They arrived in 1970s after a flock was released by a bankrupt zoo.


You will note that many of these profiles lack much information. That's because birders don't seem to pay attention to these birds - so many seem to be in the mindset that if they aren't countable they shouldn't care. I suspect many are not added to eBird checklists, which makes finding info hard. I know for a fact that many of these species get marked as "not wild" on iNat.

You will also note that all of these birds (except the white-eye, as noted above) are eligible for the ABA Checklist. So why aren't they countable? I have no idea. Part of the reason I wrote this is to raise awareness for these birds.

I appreciate any information you might have on any of these birds, or even some populations of these species or others I may have missed in my research. I also recommend you go out searching for some of these birds, including uploading them to iNat and making sure to add them to your eBird checklists.

I've also attached two observations of Great Tit, the only birds on this list I have seen. The European Goldfinch is my nemesis bird, I have failed to see it at supposedly reliable locations more times than I can count.

I plan to publish more posts on similar subjects in the future (like maybe looking into Hawaiian introductions) so stay tuned!

Publicado por raymie raymie, 24 de janeiro de 2020, 08:38 PM


Fotos / Sons


Chapim-Real (Parus major)




Março 10, 2019 11:12 AM HST

Fotos / Sons


Chapim-Real (Parus major)




Outubro 5, 2019 09:21 AM HST


Colors aren't as vibrant on this one - perhaps a young bird?


You wrote above that Great tits moved in 2010 from Milwaukee to Sheboygan. Comment elsewhere describes that the Milwaukee population crashed, but few "were found" from Sheboygan. Latter would suggest that something happened to the birds in Milwaukee, but there were still birds in Sheboygan to make species survive. This includes a notion that there were much more great tits in Milwaukee, than now is in Sheboygan. Which interpretation is correct? (Btw. pictures in both sites look so similar that is both information yours?)

Publicado por kaupunkilinnut mais de 1 ano antes (Sinalizar)

@kaupunkilinnut I probably should have been more clear on that. I meant they were no longer seen in Milwaukee and from then on were only seen in the Sheboygan area. It isn't really clear if the same birds that were in Milwaukee moved north, or if a second Sheboygan population was started, than the Milwaukee population crashed.

Publicado por raymie mais de 1 ano antes (Sinalizar)

There is a population of European Goldfinch around New York City as well. Also, there are some interesting stories about Great Black Hawks in Florida but I don't think there was ever evidence of them breeding. There used to be a myna population around Vancouver, BC but my understanding is that starlings outcompeted them.

I'm surprised Rose-ringed Parakeets haven't spread further considering their success in Europe!

Publicado por upupa-epops cerca de 1 ano antes (Sinalizar)

IIRC, European Goldfinch is also established in California. There are also breeding Mitred Parakeets in Washington.

Publicado por masonmaron cerca de 1 ano antes (Sinalizar)

The Mynas in Vancouver were Crested Mynas, and were actually considered countable for many years.
Back in the late 1990s there was a small population of Mandarin Ducks around Pueblo, CO, apparently.
The first Great Tit I'm aware of in the Chicago area was a bird that was seen in Racine County, in 2001. There are a couple of breeding attempts from Lake and McHenry Counties in Illinois later than that, but my understanding was that those birds (and several others) were the results of someone doing releases somewhere in SE Wisconsin. I do know that we Chicago birders went up to Wisconsin to look for that first one.
The European Goldfinch population in NE Illinois is a bit complicated, I think. I believe that there are records dating back far enough to suggest that there were earlier releases, perhaps throughout the area, but they were never consistent enough to be considered an established population. (I seem to recall finding a family group in Wadsworth, IL, prior to 2000.)
An interesting release that never established any sort of population is Eurasian Jay -- in 2005 I guess there were two of them in SE Wisconsin that spent the summer coming to feeders. In September (October? -- I'd have to check our records) one of them flew past our hawkwatch at N. Pt. Marina with a flock of Blue Jays.

Publicado por psweet cerca de 1 ano antes (Sinalizar)

Nice list! There are populations of peach faced lovebirds and monk parakeets in Arizona. Also missing is a growing population of nanday parakeets in Southern California. I’m not sure if these qualify for your list as they may be countable.

Publicado por naturephotosuze cerca de 1 ano antes (Sinalizar)

@upupa-epops @masonmaron I had heard that the New York and SoCal populations of European Goldfinches were just individual escapees with no breeding, but I couldn't find much information on them. Any you have would be appreciated. I would love to know more about those populations, it you have any.

@upupa-epops I had not heard of the black hawks in Florida, that is extremely interesting! I found this excellent article on them (, it seems to still be unknown if this was natural occurrence or not. Either way they seem to be no longer present.

@masonmaron Any info on those Washington parakeets?

@upupa-epops @psweet I was aware of the Crested Mynas as well, but given that they are no longer present (and were countable when they were) I decided not to count them on this list.

@psweet European Goldfinches have been popular pets in North America for a very long time - I expect that you could probably find reports of escapees back to the early 1800s. Maybe even some breeding pairs, but that doesn't mean they were established back then (after all, Wisconsin has a breeding record of Budgerigar). The 2004 Chicago release included several European songbird species, including Eurasian Jay, but the Great Tit and the goldfinch were the only ones that became established. Other species released but not established were Eurasian Blue Tit, Eurasian Siskin, European Greenfinch, Common Chaffinch, and Eurasian Linnet.

@naturephotosuze I am aware of all of those, but those species are included on the continental ABA checklist.

Publicado por raymie cerca de 1 ano antes (Sinalizar)

I still find it interesting that I hadn't heard of any of those Chicago releases -- I live north of the city, and everything I've heard places those releases up in Milwaukee or Racine.

Publicado por psweet cerca de 1 ano antes (Sinalizar)

Every source I could find for it said it was in Chicago or northeast Illinois - based on this and what you say here I would guess it was pretty close to the WI border.

Publicado por raymie cerca de 1 ano antes (Sinalizar)

I suppose in that case it must have been in McHenry County. That's the first place that Great Tits were found trying to nest here. (I actually live within walking distance of the WI state line, close to the lake.) That first Great Tit in Racine, however, clearly came from another source, since it was three years earlier.

Publicado por psweet cerca de 1 ano antes (Sinalizar)

Another possibility might be that authors not from this area might consider the entire region the "Chicago area"?

Publicado por psweet cerca de 1 ano antes (Sinalizar)

@psweet That's a possibility - I'll change the post above to say the "Chicago area".

Publicado por raymie cerca de 1 ano antes (Sinalizar)
Publicado por raymie cerca de 1 ano antes (Sinalizar)

UPDATE: Added a bit about the British Columbia population of Indian Peafowl that I just found out about.

Publicado por raymie cerca de 1 ano antes (Sinalizar)

UPDATE: Apparently there is large numbers of Spalding Peafowl present in Houston. I've update the list to reflect this.

Publicado por raymie cerca de 1 ano antes (Sinalizar)

UPDATE: Edited to add Silver Pheasant, a species I only just learned is established in North America.

Publicado por raymie 10 meses antes (Sinalizar)

I found out today the reason that many of these birds may be countable. On the "Wisconsin Birding" maillist on the ABA website, one birder asked if the Great Tit and European Goldfinch were considered to be countable ( The response, coming from the chair of Wisconsin Society for Ornithology chair was that no, they are not countable because they are not on the ABA checklist (

However, they are not on the ABA-checklist specifically because they are not on the Wisconsin list! We learn from Peter Pyle on this episode of the American Birding Podcast ( that ABA checklist committee prefers to wait for a state committee to vote on it first before they accept it on to the ABA checklist. I have long suspected this loophole may be the reason that many of these birds may not be on the official list, however it's nice to hear a confirmation from a state committee. I'm going to dub this the "Goldfinch Loophole" for simplicity's sake, and I think I'm probably going to contact the WSO about it. It would be great if others would contact their state committees (or perhaps even the ABA) as well.

Publicado por raymie 9 meses antes (Sinalizar)

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