I agree with your “lame” comment. It’s one thing to have protocols for things like breeding bird surveys, atlas plots, etc., so that all data is collected in a similar fashion. But if the goal is to know where the birds are, why should “we” worry about how the data was acquired (within the bounds of good birding practices, of course). Certainly a photo (remote or otherwise) is far more verifiable than a reported sighting, no matter who the observer is.
M. David Luneau, Jr., P.E.
Associate Professor of Electronics
Department of Engineering Technology
University of Arkansas at Little Rock
Little Rock, AR 72204
From: The Birds of Arkansas Discussion List [mailto:<ARBIRD-L...>] On Behalf Of Glenn
Sent: Tuesday, October 23, 2018 7:15 PM
Subject: Re: [ARBIRD-L] Reporting birds
You gave an excellent response. Thank you. However...it is my understanding that eBird was a database specifically to help Cornell bird researchers and others understand what birds are out there, where and when. So, if I watch a live feed from Sabal Palm Sanctuary bird cam and saw a Ivory-billed Woodpecker, I would think those bird people would want to know about it. Or even if it is a Carolina Chickadee. Either sighting is just as valid from a person watching a camera as a person sitting there live at one of their picnic tables. Why would the eBird users refuse accurate data just because of how it was obtained? Same for a drone. If my drone spots a Whiskered Vireo in a swampy area that a person can't get to, don't the birding experts still want to know a Whiskered Vireo was there and the date and time? Or do they really want us to just throw that information away? So, I guess my point is, the bird counters, and bird behavior experts should want all sources of accurate bird location information they can get their hands on. Don't they? (By the way, I don't have a drone. I would think the noise would scare any bird away.)
I see I can report netted birds for banding. I was told once that I could not. I'm glad to see that information. But the reason given for no remote sensing "The differences in detection rates between what you can see or hear over a video feed, differs greatly from what you can detect in the field." Am I the only one that thinks that is kind of lame? That is saying they don't want me to report the one Whiskered Vireo my drone saw in the swamp simply because if I were there in person I might have seen two. If that is really the case they wouldn't accept any eBird report that does not have the block checked saying you are reporting all birds identified. Or they wouldn't accept a bird count of xx because because it doesn't convey how many birds the observer saw.
I'm saying all this not to be argumentative, but I am trying to understand why the Cornell people, or other bird researchers are not interested in valid bird sightings, no matter how that sighting was accomplished. I can guarantee this - if I had a remote cam that took an absolutely perfect picture of an Ivory Billed Woodpecker those people would all of a sudden be interested in information from a remote cam.
Sorry I was long winded, I'll shut up on this subject now.
On Tuesday, October 23, 2018, 5:21:38 PM CDT, plm108 < <mailto:<plm108...> <plm108...> wrote:
Intriguing questions, Glenn, and I think you might get multiple answers, all of which carry some level of credence. Technology, photography, and eBird have certainly changed the fundamentals and dynamics of what gets reported. I look at it personally and decide for myself in different situations and with only a few hard and fast rules. This can include species as well as numbers of each. When it's a common species that was captured in a photo or audio that I might have missed in the field, i would likely count it. But if it's a rarity or my first one for the year, i would want to see it before I would personally count it (ex, chickadee vs shearwater). I think eBird doesn't care if you see or hear a bird as long as you were physically there. They primarily want to know about its presence and your effort, so adding it to your list even if it was only discovered in a photo you took furthers that data. Some might say absolutely not and others would say why not!?!
Here's info from eBird on remote cameras etc:
No Remote Sensed Images or Video
NestCams and FeederCams are not appropriate for eBird. The differences in detection rates between what you can see or hear over a video feed, differs greatly from what you can detect in the field. Right now eBird does not have a good way to examine these differences. Please do not enter any data from nest cameras, feeder cameras, or videos of people traveling around filming birds. (This surely includes drones etc ... but if you locate a rarity via a remote camera, please let us know via ARBIRD.)
Fledglings, ducklings, gosling, nestlings and baby birds of all types count. Eggs do not count.
Introduced species should be reported,but will count on your lists. In the future we plan to give the option to selectively remove these species from selected lists.
Only include living birds. In the long run we hope to gather information on dead birds, but at this point eBird is intended only for living birds.
Do not report captive birds. You may report wild birds you see at outdoor zoos, but do not include caged birds, pinioned waterfowl, or birds that are part of the collection. As a general rule, birds at zoos that are not known to be wild should not be reported.
A netted bird for banding purposes is considered reportable whereas a captive bird is not. Ebird has a section on Banding Protocol here:
But everyone has their own standard and some folks have been keeping a life list, state list, county list far longer than I have. I'd be curious to know if their personal standards have changed as photography, technology and eBird have advanced our field experiences.
Maybe this is more of an eBird question, but I think it is a birding community question. What can I officially "report" as having seen, bird wise? For instance:
1. If I went up to where they are tagging Northern Saw-whet Owls, it is my understanding I couldn't claim having seen one because it wasn't in the wild. Even though it was in the wild the second it was released. Is that correct? I know that in south Louisiana they go out in the evenings and try to catch and tag Yellow and Black Rails and I bet those get reported. So I'm really confused why a netted bird that gets tagged and immediately released isn't reportable.
2. What if I take a photo of a flock of Greater White-fronted Geese, and later while looking at the photos I spot 2 Cackling Geese in the photo. Can I claim those even though I didn't "see" them while I was there but my camera did?
3. Here is a question my wife had that led to this post. What if I had a drone with a camera on it. If I flew that drone into the swamp and saw an Anhinga through the camera, is that reportable? This seems like a reasonable question now that drones are so readily available. Especially because if the answer to question 2 is a yes, then what difference is there if the camera is being held by hand or not?
4. Depending on the answer to question 3 - if the answer was yes, I could report a drone spotted bird then how about a remote camera? Sabal Palm Sanctuary in Brownsville, Texas has a bird camera where anyone can log on and watch to see what wild birds show up at their feeders. I bet everybody would say those birds are not reportable. But why not? They were in their natural wild state, what difference is there if the camera is 600 miles away or in my hand?
I only ask these things because I want to make sure I'm doing the right thing when reporting birds.