Why not have an input from an outsider. Things here in the United States
are not much different than in Australia when it comes to reporting rare
bird sightings. I reported a rare out of range sighting once while on a
business trip to Oklahoma (a Gray Hawk). I had no pictures, except what I
drew, and no witnesses. I sent a detailed report to a local birder and to
the rare birds committee chairman for the State of Oklahoma. I asked both
to let me know if anyone else found the bird or what their decision on my
report was. Three or four years later I am still waiting (but not holding
my breath) to hear from someone out there.
Back home here in Maryland I reported an Arctic Tern that my wife
and I saw while doing a spring bird count in an inland county a few years
ago. That report was rejected by the rare bird committee; however, they did
get back to me and explain why it was rejected. From their point of view, I
agree with their rejection. I know what I saw, but the write up certainly
was not enough to convince someone who was not there. The fact that they
replied to me and told me why they rejected our sighting made me feel much
better than the incident in Oklahoma.
If rare bird committees think that birders should spend the time to
document a sighting record and submit it then remember, birders think rare
bird committees should likewise document and report back to the birders. It
is only fair, and will promote a willingness to submit further reports if
the birder doesn't think their report is going into a black hole.
One problem that I had heard about with some committees was that
people on the committee who had not see the rarity were inclined to reject
the sighting so that others could not add something to their bird list that
the committee member might not have. Ridiculous! These reports are to help
birders, scientific and recreational alike, to understand the movement of
Make everyone feel like they are part of the system and they are
more likely to contribute.
> From: Terry Pacey[SMTP:
> Sent: Friday, July 23, 1999 2:59 AM
> To: Birding Aus
> Subject: birding-aus Rarities
> I am one of the first group of birders referred to by Peter Menkhorst.
> I am this way by choice - not by laziness or any other vice. Within
> of my return from six years in the Solomon Islands, I placed a full report
> of a sighting of a Metallic (Shining) Starling with the appropriate
> This bird was out of range and habitat. During my time in the Solomons,
> this was a common bird with a colonial nesting tree within sight of one of
> my residences.
> Although I was able to eliminate Drongo and Koel etc., my sighting of a
> I was thoroughly familiar with was rejected. No reason was given. If
> report was rejected, what chance would I have of having any other rare
> report accepted. I have never wasted my time since.
> As a single income family with children who are more important than birds,
> am unable to afford the high priced binoculars or a camera. I even have
> pay for my Inter-net access unlike many of those who report to
> If my low quality binoculars and no camera make my reports doubtful as I
> have been told in the past, why should I bother.
> To those of you who are offended by this, I say "Have a serious look at
> you have been saying and doing and think again."
> Terry Pacey
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