[CT Birds] Fwd: New Year's Resolutions courtesy of a Records Committee Secretary

Chris Elphick elphick at sbcglobal.net
Sat Dec 29 10:18:54 EST 2007

No one from the state records committee has yet forwarded the message from Maryland that I've pasted in below .... so I thought I would as it epitomizes the type of birder I strive (but usually fail) to be.  

Quite apart from the advice being invaluable for anyone who wants to add the state's ornithological record, it contains most of the best suggestions (points 3-6) I can think of for anyone who wants to get better at bird identification. 



Ten New Year's Resolutions for the Field Birder

by Phil Davis

Few people really make New Year's resolutions any 
more. Well, I can help you fill that huge void in 
your life! Here is a list of resolutions that you may freely adopt.


1. To carry a copy of the latest MD/DC Records 
Committee (MD/DCRC) Maryland and/or DC Review 
Lists inside my field guide or in my car so that 
I can check on the review status of any rare or 
unusual birds that I run across to determine if 
they are "reviewable" sightings. [The MD Review 
List is only two pages (one if you print on both 
sides), and the DC Review List is only one page.] 
These lists can be found on the MD/DCRC web pages at:
         MD      http://www.mdbirds.org/mddcrc/pdf/mdreview.pdf
         DC      http://www.mdbirds.org/mddcrc/pdf/dcreview.pdf

2. To carry a list of phone numbers of other 
local birders into the field, so that if I do 
find a potentially reviewable bird, I can call 
either someone to come check it out, or someone 
who might be near a computer so that they can 
post a message to the MD Osprey listserver, with 
directions. Even if you are not sure about an ID, 
it's best to get the word out as a "possible." We 
have probably missed a number of rare and unusual 
records because of not judiciously "spreading the word."

3. To carry either note paper [with a pen] or a 
voice dictation recorder [with batteries] into 
the field to record notes for any reviewable birds on the spot.

4. To describe the entire bird, from tip to tail, 
not just key field marks, starting with which 
family the bird belongs to. The MD/DCRC web page 
carries documentation guidelines that provide 
memory joggers. [This two-page checklist is 
another good reference to throw into your car.] 
You can find these guidelines here:


         Or check out other related links in the "Reporting Sightings" section:

5. To include in my report how I have eliminated 
other similar species [for example, Spotted 
Towhees from Eastern Towhees, Cave Swallows from Cliff Swallows, etc].

6. To write out or dictate my notes before 
consulting a field guide, unless I'm still in the 
field and am on the bird. In that case, I can 
consult a field guide for key field marks and 
immediately check for the presence or absence of 
those field marks. [It's okay to consult a field 
guide later, to analyze age, sex, plumage, or 
elimination of other similar species AFTER the 
basic sighting has been documented; however, in 
your report draw a line between the observation 
field notes and any post-sighting analysis, and 
tell the committee when and where field guide(s) 
were consulted, including which references were used.]

7. To prepare a formal report to the MD/DCRC 
either the evening of the sighting or within a 
very few days. [Otherwise, the memory fades or 
terminal procrastination may set in.]

8. To submit written documentation in electronic 
format to the MD/DCRC Secretary [either via 
e-mail or via the MD/DCRC web form], and send images as e-mail attachments.

9. To provide some basic level of written 
documentation even if just submitting digital 
images. At a minimum, provide the date and 
location. [Even though our committee does accept 
"photo only" documentation, the voting members 
still grouse if they don't get some kind of accompanying statement.]

10. In electronic documentation and attachments, 
to use file names that convey information, such 
as observer name (eg, last name and first 
initial), observation date, species name (or 
four-letter abbreviation), and a sequence number 
for multiple images. [Feel free to contact the 
MD/DCRC Secretary before you submit electronic 
documentation for the assigned MD/DCRC data- 
accession number, and you can include that, too.]

Oh, what a wonderful life it would be 

Happy New Year to All!

Phil is the Secretary of the Maryland/ District of Columbia Records Committee

Phil Davis, Secretary
MD/DC Records Committee
2549 Vale Court
Davidsonville, Maryland  21035     USA
mailto:PDavis at ix.netcom.com

MD/DCRC Web site:  http://www.MDBirds.org/mddcrc/rcindex.html

Bird Records Committee Forum archives:

Chris Elphick
Storrs, CT
elphick at sbcglobal.net

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