Birders Crazy for Smew from the Union Democrat.
We had a smew show up in southern Minnesota a few years ago. Everyone was gung ho to see it until someone from the MOU records committee sat and studied it and discovered that the right hallux was missing and it looked like a clean cut--something that is often done with captive birds. The smew was presumed an escapee and not a wild smew and therefore not countable on Minnesota bird lists.
I remember a few month after that I was in Nebraska and over heard a couple of guys talking about birds and smew came up. I turned and asked where they had seen it. They were from Iowa and had gone to see the smew that was in Minnesota a few months earlier. I told them that it was no longer considered countable and about the missing hallux. They looked at me skeptically and one said, "Somebody actually watched it that close?"
"Yes. You don't play around with the Minnesota bird record committee, they're hardcore."
And they are.
Crestfallen, they quietly walked away.
Have I put this story in the blog before? I'm really starting to get concerned that I'm repeating stories...