Date: 7/11/18 10:45 pm From: Paul Sullivan <paultsullivan...> Subject: [obol] Re: A modest suggestion for photo ID discussions
I'd like to second Joel's comments about photo ID discussions and add a couple comments.
I came to birding in an earlier time. Someone interested in birding 30-40 years ago hooked up with a local bird club and went on FIELD TRIPS with knowledgeable leaders. You got to see a variety of birds in a day's birding. You saw them in their habitat: treetop Hermit Warblers and lower MacGillivray's Warblers. You got to see a bird from all angles. You saw relative size. You saw behavior. You saw it next to other known species. You heard it sing. Beginners could ask ID questions: "What's that bird singing?" "What's that bird on the wire?" The leader could point out multiple field marks to 20 people in a few minutes. The leader could quickly explain why that oversize streaky bird was not a sparrow, but a female red-winged blackbird. She could explain why that plain brown bird was a female house sparrow, a female cowbird, a young starling, a female lazuli bunting, or a female house finch, and not one of the others. As Tim Rodenkirk suggested, getting out there and puzzling over a bird, putting together all the habitat, behavior, song, and plumage clues makes the identification you arrive at stick, because you worked for it.
Now we are in the digital age. Folks are getting lots of information over the internet, a good share of it conflicting "information." New folks are coming to birding via digital media. So we have people learning by asking photo ID questions. That has its benefits and drawbacks. This discussion has highlighted some of them.
A single photo shows only one view of a bird. Size, behavior, habitat, and voice are missing. Context is missing. To reply takes someone 20+ minutes to type an essay to answer each inquiry.
I'm not good at birding-by-photo. Often I'm stumped. I don't have the context I would have in the field. I don't have the energy to sit and type and edit a long essay. I leave that to others who are quicker and better at it.
I don't find a lot of these photo ID exchanges educational. Sorry. I just don't. If I were going to study-up on some difficult ID question, I'd go to my library of good books and pour over them, going back and forth between text and images to see what the author is saying. I'm a creature of the printed page, not the digital screen.
I'd be more than happy to take you birding, and I could share a lot more than identifying just that one bird photo in a lot less time. Corny puns are thrown in for free, and maybe a beer, too.
Hope this doesn’t' sound grumpy or snarky. It's just the way things are.
--------------------------------- [obol] Re: Is this a Western Watch-a-ma-callit? A modest suggestion for photo ID discussions • From: Joel Geier <joel.geier@xxxxxxxx> • To: Oregon Birders OnLine <obol@xxxxxxxxxxxxx> • Date: Wed, 11 Jul 2018 18:06:17 -0700 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 opinion).
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 marks.
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 -- Joel Geier Camp Adair area north of Corvallis