Date: 1/11/18 11:49 pm
From: Noah Strycker <noah.strycker...>
Subject: [obol] Re: ebird throws out the baby with the bath water...
Hi all,

I've been a little disappointed with the way sensitive species are handled by eBird. In Oregon (and worldwide), all records of Gyrfalcon, Great Gray Owl, and Spotted Owl are now invisible. I'm sure there have been incidents of disturbance of these and other species (though I doubt any of these birds' survival is significantly affected by eBird in Oregon). But there are less heavy-handed ways to deal with the issue then blanking out people's checklists across the board, whether they wish their reports hidden or not -- Mike's 1999 Gyrfalcon checklist shows how this can get ridiculous. And no list of species is ever going to cover every instance of abuse. If you're going to hide Great Gray and Spotted Owl reports in Oregon, why not winter Burrowing Owls or nesting-season Long-eared, which are arguably more prone to disturbance?

I understand and support the need for caution, but I wish it could be accomplished without eBird censoring data (it's actually more severe than that - you can't even tell if a checklist has been "censored"). Locations could be inexact, a time-delay could be instituted, or local reviewers could be given control of specific cases in their own area. The latter would at least help with eBird's "Orwellian" image, as Mike put it. Suppressing data, or restricting who can view it, has a long and uncomfortable history -- right up to certain current events, which I'm sure eBird would rather not be associated with.

Good birding,


> On Jan 11, 2018, at 7:23 PM, David Irons <llsdirons...> wrote:
> Posting the exact location for any roosting owl is a bad idea, particularly Willamette Valley Burrowing Owls, as their roosting culverts are typically right next to roads with nothing around but bare dirt or short grass. Any time wintering WV Burrowing Owls are reported a stream of birders and photographers descend upon them. Getting a year bird or your umpteenth point-blank photo of this species is not a good excuse for the harassment that they endure. For these reasons I also didn’t report one I found in early November. It was found by someone else a week or so later and the exact location was mapped on eBird and reported on listservs.
> The logic of hiding Gyrfalcon reports escapes me. I cannot recall an instance of wintering Oregon Gyr disappearing in midseason. Once found? they tend to remain thru the season. In the southern Willamette Valley, the epicenter of w. Oregon Gyr sightings, there are a number of active falconers, some who I know personally and others that I’ve crossed paths with in the field. Trust me, they know where the falcons are long before the birders figure it out. eBird and OBOL postings are not informing them of anything they don’t already know.
> Dave Irons
> Beaverton, OR
> Sent from my iPhone
> On Jan 11, 2018, at 6:38 PM, Lars Per Norgren <larspernorgren...> wrote:
>> *
>> In the 70s there was the real concern that public records led to capture, legal
>> or not, of Gyrs and Peregrines. Captive raised falcons are now a standard item
>> on the market and no falconer with half a brain wants a wild bird months or years
>> out of the nest. I think a myth is firmly established. I purposely withheld reporting
>> a Burrowing Owl on Obol this November because I've seen non-birders with monster
>> lens walk right up to them in Linn County. Weeks later I saw that someone posted
>> the same BUOW on ebird within a day or two of my sighting. It came with a very
>> detailed map of where to find it. I understand ebird's intentions. Hell is paved with
>> good intentions (or bad excuses, take your pick). The benefit of access to these
>> Gyrfalcon sightings weeks to years post facto seems significant. The risk under a
>> similar timeline seems non-existant. I can imagine any number of other species
>> worthy of masking under various circumstances that will no doubt never get it.
>>> On Jan 11, 2018, at 4:51 PM, Mike Patterson wrote:
>>> If you go looking for Gyrfalcon records on eBird, you will discover
>>> that they have all been masked. You can no longer get any info other
>>> than very approximate locations when using the find a species tool.
>>> I will start by saying that I understand about releasing locations of
>>> sensitive species. I understand that by masking a location, ebird
>>> protects sensitive species and themselves. I fully understand,
>>> appreciate and support the larger effort in this.
>>> But...
>>> Why protect a record from last year? Why hide the date? Why disappear
>>> a list for a bird that left the place it was seen 2 decades ago?
>>> This is what one gets, if one goes to my report of a Gyrfalcon from 1999
>>> Orwellian isn't it?
>>> I'm pretty sure that a clever programmer would be able to protect
>>> dates and locations for sensitive species without making it look like
>>> nothing was ever there...
>>> Here's what one sees at iNaturalist
>>> So I'm pretty sure there's a middle ground solution to this issue...
>>> --
>>> Mike Patterson
>>> Astoria, OR
>>> That question...
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