Date: 10/7/19 10:41 pm
From: Alan Contreras <acontrer56...>
Subject: [obol] Limits on the interpretation of detail in bird records
I don’t think it is useful to try to generate comparisons among loose assemblages of non-comparable things dredged up long after the fact.

Many of us who hear Tropical Kingbirds vocalize in Oregon simply don’t mention that fact in published reports, whether in eBird or other venues, nor do we mention the forked tail, big bill or bright yellow underparts.

Why not? Because that isn’t how birding works. Unless a report falls into the category that records committees chow down on, this level of detail on how a bird was identified might occasionally reside in personal notes but is very rarely included in any kind of published material.

Does that limit what a researcher might do with such material? Yup. When I go out in the field I am rarely conducting a study. I am birding. I am on my own time doing something I enjoy. In that situation my obligation to future researchers is nil. I understand that researchers wish I did things in a way that would be more helpful to them, but the idea that there is a duty to live according to someone else’s wishes or agenda is not an adult thought.

That said, sometimes I AM doing what I would consider focused data collection. I have kept several years of records for a private landowner. That is data collected on purpose for the landowner and my approach to that process is more structured.

Birding activity CAN be channeled for scientific purposes, but it need not be.

Today I sought TRKIs and found none. I did see a Prairie Warbler, some Townsend’s Warblers and some Song Sparrows and I heard a heap of Virginia Rails. That’s all part of the birding experience. I enjoyed that time with my friends.

Alan Contreras
Eugene, Oregon

Nostalgic for Nixon….

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