Date: 7/5/18 8:07 am
From: Marshall Iliff <miliff...>
Subject: Re: [MASSBIRD] Incredible pelagic eBird report

Unlike listservs, we do have a vetting process in place in eBird. This is
important since misidentifications and checklist errors (e.g., misplotted
or erroneous location information) do occur.

This report had not yet been followed-up on as of last night (it has been

The eBird review process tends to occur between the observer and the
reviewer, not in a public forum like this.

That said, it seems worth noting that:

1) The photo labeled Black-capped Petrel is actually Great Shearwater
2) The photo labeled Barolo Shearwater is actually Great Shearwater
3) The Band-rumped Storm-Petrel photos show Wilson's Storm-Petrel
4) The Dovekie is correctly identified and is a noteworthy record for
anywhere in the USA in July (but we have no idea where the photo was taken
- I have asked the observer)
5) White-tailed Tropicbird is an abundant breeder on Bermuda and the photos
were likely taken close to Bermuda
6) The Gulf Stream does not typically reach Massachusetts waters, so
comments about birds "in or on the south side of the Gulf Stream" were
either not "in or south of the Gulf Stream" or not in Massachusetts
7) There is no indication whatsoever that any of these birds were in
Massachusetts waters, nor that the observer intended to plot them in
Massachusetts waters
8) For "Unconfirmed" eBird reports, sometimes one has to apply their own
judgment on records until the eBird review process has had a chance to run
its course (and even then, independent assessment is a good thing and we
always appreciate feedback is an eBird review error was made. Typos happen.)

It is important to note that eBird submissions are of the most use when
they are site-specific and covering shorter distances and durations. This
allows us to tie the birds to the place and time observed, which helps
scientists model their distribution: For pelagic trips, we do have a
recommended protocol:

Not all eBird users follow protocols that make their data more useful. We
see a range of lists from entire cruise lists plotted at a random midpoint
(the clear case here) to people uploading their whole life list to a Plum
Island location from yesterday. While these are confusing to the eBird
community and while we wish these instances were less common, use of eBird
is a learning curve and we do our best to practice patience when birders
make mistakes or make choices that cause confusion, as occurred here.

So, maybe not such an "Incredible pelagic eBird report" after all. I have
followed up with the observer directly.

There are plenty of other birds around. Just see the eBird Alert for the
state here (which indicates the records which have been reviewed and those
that have yet to be reviewed):


Marshall Iliff
eBird Project Leader

On Thu, Jul 5, 2018 at 9:28 AM, Josh <opihi...> wrote:

> Hi Eric and all - Yeah, I was contacted off-list by someone who would know
> confirming that the “Black-capped Petrel” photo in that eBird checklist is
> indeed a Great Shearwater. I had that fleeting suspicion last night but
> haven’t seen an actual Pterodroma in a couple of years, last summer’s BBC
> pelagics having been cancelled by bad weather. Then his tropicbird photos,
> especially the three in one frame, blew me away.
> I’ve never seen a Barolo, so can’t judge from his photo, but the fact that
> he’d report two of those, and not a single shearwater of any of the more
> abundant species, does strike me as fishy now.
> I’m going to use late-night posting, sleep deprivation, and possibly
> after-effects of July 4 fireworks as my excuse...
> Good birding,
> Josh
> Joshua S. Rose, Ph.D.
> Amherst, MA
> On Jul 5, 2018, at 6:02 AM, Erik Nielsen <erikbogh...> wrote:
> It sure is an amazing report. Let’s hope the camera has a GPS embedded and
> that it was enabled. It would be nice to be able to confirm that all the
> Tropicbirds truly were in MA waters.
> To me the Black-capped Petrel looks like a Great Shearwater. I also don’t
> see why the Barolo pictured isn’t an Audubon’s and the Band-rumped not a
> Wilson’s.
> Erik Nielsen
> Westwood, MA
> On Jul 5, 2018, at 00:51, Josh <opihi...> wrote:
> Hi MassBirders,
> Skimmed the state’s daily summary of rare bird reports from eBird just
> now, and there’s a report from offshore that is just mind-boggling. The
> species list is hard to believe, except maybe from one of the BBC overnight
> trips, and numbers of at least one species even more so, except that he’s
> got really amazing photos! For his location he says “Bermuda to Portland
> transit;” he estimates 180 miles for eBird, and it’s a wee bit longer than
> that from Bermuda to Portland, so I guess this was just the part of the
> trip that was in MA state waters. Not sure which boat he was on, but I want
> a ticket... Check this out:
> Good birding,
> Josh


Marshall J. Iliff
miliff AT
Westwood, MA
eBird Project Leader
Cornell Lab of Ornithology
Ithaca, NY

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