Date: 7/11/18 6:07 pm
From: Joel Geier <joel.geier...>
Subject: [obol] Re: Is this a Western Watch-a-ma-callit? A modest suggestion for photo ID discussions
Hi all,

I suggest it would be best if we all assume that everyone who commented
on the Western Wood-Pewee/Willow Flycatcher thread was commenting with
good intentions.

Like others have expressed, I value Jim's high-quality photos and I
appreciate him sharing them with the group. It takes a lot of patience
to get shots like this. Once in a while Jim has asked me for an opinion
on grassland bird photos, and he often has tough questions (which shows
that he's thought about these photos before asking for a second

I think Tim makes a valid point about the benefits of working through an
identification, and taking it as far as you can go, before putting it
out there for others to comment on. I didn't think he was being snarky
but I think it was a mistake to make this comment in response to a
particular individual's posting. Tim has apologized and I think we
should let that rest.

Thinking about how to make photo ID discussions more productive, I'd
like to toss out a few suggestions here for discussion:

1) When you post a photo, try to give a tentative identification based
on your own efforts (I think Jim did this by suggesting Western
Wood-Pewee in the subject line).

2) Please try to include information about habitat and behavior. Where
did you see the bird? What kind of tree or shrub was it in? What was it
doing? How big did it seem in comparison with "standard" birds like
Robin, Killdeer, etc.?

3) For birders who respond, please explain WHY you think it's a
particular species, pointing out the key field marks. It can be helpful
to give a link to a more detailed discussion (as Dave Irons did),
especially if you include a brief mention of what you think are the key

4) For birders who don't respond, please understand that the relatively
small subset of birders on OBOL who respond to ID requests get a LOT of
similar requests, and they are humans too. Sometimes people get cranky
or otherwise are not in top form.

5) To me, it seems like a lot of these ID discussions are unsatisfying
from an educational point of view, because there's no wrap-up
discussion. A lot of people chime in with opinions, some of them
contradictory. So the result sometimes can be confusing. Also, a lot of
times the original poster ("OP," in internet-speak) might get feedback
from people who don't post to OBOL.

It would be nice if the OPs could post a brief synopsis of what they
learned. Not just a "democratic" summary of how many votes for one or
the other alternative, but a summary of the key ID points that were
cited in favor of the identifications. This could be a good way for the
OPs to share what they've learned in the process of sharing their
photos, with the full community.

Happy birdwatching,
Joel Geier
Camp Adair area north of Corvallis

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