Thanks for sending this around - most interesting.
Some suggestions: ? publish in Wingspan for wider dissemination
How about publishing the results
of the RAC's deliberations in Wingspan
a la the American Birding Association?
I look forward to the Web page -
can you keep us posted via birding-aus?
PS There are 1 or 2 minor typo's.
>The recent communication regarding possible name changes to the Records
>Appraisal Committee has resulted in a number of requests for more
>information about the committee and the way it works. Consequently I have
>put together below a frequently asked questions page that may assist those
>interested in the committee and in particular those contemplating a
>Records Appraisal Committee FAQ's
>1. What is the function of the RAOU Rarities committee in Australia?
>Basically it is to provide an informed, discerning and impartial appraisal
>on submissions relating to reports of rare birds in Australia and its
>2. Why have an appraisal committee at all?
>There are many reports of rare birds which are never published in any
>form. In time these are often forgotten or at best treated as unconfirmed.
>In many countries files of the rarities committee act as an accepted
>repository for such records and help to resolve this problem. It is hoped
>that in the future the same will apply here in Australia. Not that long
>ago, a record of a rarity was not considered adequately documented unless
>it was collected and retained as a museum specimen. Today the
>ornithological community has a lot more confidence in field observations,
>but this does not obviate the need for field notes to help authenticate
>sightings. Even the best observers make mistakes and many rare birds
>pose identification problems that are often relatively unfamiliar to
>Rarities are worth reporting. They provide interesting distributional
>records that add to our knowledge of how migration systems work and
>improve our knowledge of field identification techniques. New records for
>a country are particularly important, as they influence what goes into
>checklists and field guides.
>3. How many members are there to the committee?
>There are eight members one of whom is the chairman; proxy members are
>also used should any of the eight on the committee be unavailable. All
>members of the committee work voluntarily in their own time on behalf of
>4. Which species are reviewed?
>A review list of national rarities is maintained and revised annually and
>published in the annual report currently available from Birds Australia.
>It is hoped to have this report available on a web site in the near future.
>Copies of the Review List can be obtained on request from the Secretary or
>the Chairman of the Committee.
>5. What happens once a submission is received?
>Confirmation of receipt is sent to the originator. The submission is
>duplicated and distributed to committee members for voting. Votes of
>acceptance or non-acceptance are forwarded together with reasons for
>decision to the secretary who collates the votes and passes on the case
>file to the committee Chairman. The Chairman then prepares a case summary
>outlining the decision and copies are then distributed to the originator,
>the Director of the RAOU and the Chairman of the Taxonomic Advisory
>6. What happens if members votes differ?
>A count of seven or more votes in favour will result in an accepted
>submission and votes totalling four or more against will result in non-
>acceptance. Five or six votes in favour will result in a second round of
>voting, this time with other members comments available for review. If
>after two rounds of voting there are still only five or six in favour,
>the case will be decided by the committee in a discussion forum, following
>which a final vote will be taken. If the case then receives no more than
>six votes in favour of acceptance, it will be deemed to be one of
>7. What happens if a member cannot decide how to vote?
>It is mandatory that all members vote either for acceptance or non-
>acceptance. The only other avenue that can be taken in appropriate cases
>is to request expert opinion. For example from an overseas ornithologist
>with recognised specialist knowledge of a particular species or group of
>birds. The second or third round of voting will then be based on this
>information in addition to that already available.
>8. How can a member vote on a species he knows very little about?
>In the absence of personal field experience with the species concerned,
>committee members are expected to research an identification topic using
>available literature, museum specimens or other sources of information to
>objectively appraise any report under consideration to the best of his or
>her ability. Other members views are not available during the first round
>9. What is expected from the observer in the way of a submission?
>The most common reason for the non-acceptance of a record is lack of
>information. Ideally, any birder submitting a report for appraisal should
>have as documentation a set of field notes made at the time of the
>observation or as soon as possible thereafter. Accompanying field
>sketches, no matter how rudimentary or crude, are an invaluable adjunct to
>any submission and are strongly encouraged, as are corroborating field
>notes from other birders. Photographs are, of course, very desirable
>provided they accompany a submission. Claims of species new to Australia
>or of those involving a very difficult identification problem (e.g. Cook's
>versus Pycroft's Petrel) naturally require a very high standard of
>documentation. Copies of field notes from more than one observer,
>sketches and photo's where possible are all strongly encouraged.
>10. Where should I send a submission once it has been completed?
>Submissions should be sent directly to David W Eades, Secretary, Records
>Appraisal Committee, Birds Australia, East Hawthorn, VIC 3123.
>Submissions can also be passed on to any member of the committee.
>11. What happens if a record is not accepted?
>Records are not REJECTED; rather they are NOT ACCEPTED. A final vote of
>non-acceptance does not mean that the observer(s) did not site the species
>claimed; rather, that the information submitted is, in the opinion of the
>committee, insufficient to establish beyond reasonable doubt the
>identification or natural occurrence of the species being claimed. It
>should be noted that submissions of non-acceptance are not a waste of time.
>All submissions are filed for future reference and become part of a
>permanent archive what will serve researchers in the future.
>12. How long does it take for a Committee decision to become available?
>This has been an ongoing problem for the committee particularly with the
>more difficult cases. This topic was discussed at our recent annual
>meeting and we are striving to improve our procedures and efficiency in
>order to reduce waiting times. A straightforward case should take no
>longer than two to three months. Submissions that involve more than one
>round of voting, require expert opinion or have only one set of
>photographs may take longer. In such instances the originator will be
>notified in writing. Birders whose submissions include photographs could
>help us by including additional copies (7 if possible) this would enable
>us to circulate the case more quickly.
>Our thanks to all for their interest and support.
>Chairman RAOU Records Appraisal Committee.
>Phone.....+61 2 9900 1678 or Home +61 2 9427 7563
>Fax.......+61 2 9900 1669