[CT Birds] Not a Sprague's Pipit: Been there, done that.

David F Provencher david.f.provencher at dom.com
Thu Sep 6 08:38:25 EDT 2012


This is an excellent example of a phenomena we all are susceptible to, seeing what we expect to see.

I would like to start with giving cudos to whoever first called it a Sprague's Pipit (Paul was it you?). That shows "rarity awareness", a very good thing to possess. Secondly, I like to say I have mislead myself on identifications before as well, and been mislead by other's incorrect identifications too. This is just part of being human.

A number of years ago a birder friend found a bird at Hammonasset that she identified as a LeConte's Sparrow. She then found Greg Hanisek and I and got us on the bird. Greg and I trusted her id before we saw the bird (we knew she deserved our confidence due to her experience) and when we saw the bird we also turned it into a LeConte's Sparrow in our heads. It was in fact a fresh plumage Grasshopper Sparrow (at least we had the genus right!), a plumage we seldom observe in Connecticut. It was only later when Greg and I had gone our separate ways that we both started to second guess the identification and we both came up with the correct identification.

In birding, as in life, we learn much more from our mistakes than from our successes. I learned that the best way to identify a rarity is try very hard to turn it into a species that isn't rare. If you can not disprove the rarity despite your best efforts, than your much much closer to getting the call correct! But being human, we will all continue to make mistakes till we die. It's easy to see why this bird was thought to be a Sprague's Pipit, and they do occur in the east (I've seen one in Massachusetts). Credit should also be given to Paul for getting the word out quickly, rarities that show up in stormy weather often disappear very quickly indeed. The hope is we make fewer and fewer miscalls as we get wiser (and by wiser I mean "older"). I'm pretty sure I'm going to get everything in life figured out, about 90 seconds before I die. My last words will probably be something like "Ohhhhh, now I know what that was!" Either that or "Hey guys, watch this!"

Dave

David Provencher

CONFIDENTIALITY NOTICE:  This electronic message contains
information which may be legally confidential and/or privileged and
does not in any case represent a firm ENERGY COMMODITY bid or offer
relating thereto which binds the sender without an additional
express written confirmation to that effect.  The information is
intended solely for the individual or entity named above and access
by anyone else is unauthorized.  If you are not the intended
recipient, any disclosure, copying, distribution, or use of the
contents of this information is prohibited and may be unlawful.  If
you have received this electronic transmission in error, please
reply immediately to the sender that you have received the message
in error, and delete it.  Thank you.




More information about the CTBirds mailing list