Date: 6/30/20 6:53 am
From: Richard Littauer <richard.littauer...>
Subject: Re: [VTBIRD] Rare Bird Reports
To add to what has been said already:

Many of these reports have been coming from me. I've recently had a
wonderful time going through a list of most species in Vermont, and
figuring out which species are monotypic and which ones have subspecies.
The filters are set up differently by different reviewers: this means
that logging a Common Grackle (Bronzed) (/Quiscula quiscula versicolor/)
in Caledonia doesn't hit a flag, while logging one in Washington County
does. They're no less common in either place. Due to filters, however,
it's often the case that there are many more subspecies identifications
in counties without filters, as the checklist doesn't automatically
suggest the subspecies identification, as well. I've been curious to see
what subspecies have been seen in what counties. If I find a gap, I'll
often log one, the next time I'm there.

On a different level, one of the aspects of birding I am very interested
in is seeing birds in more detail. Learning how to identify subspecies -
when it is even possible in the field, which isn't always the case-
means I've had to really brush up on the morphology and coloration of
otherwise common birds. I spent a good 30 minutes looking at the House
Wrens <> I logged yesterday, as it
seemed that there was some light barring on the flanks, and as I
couldn't figure out whether the dorsal barring was evident or not in the
pictures I took. I know they were House Wrens; I know they were almost
certainly the /aedon/ subspecies given the geography, but it was a good
amount of fun proving it. If you look at the photos, you'll see some
very vaguely whitish feathers where the supercilium is; Northern House
Wrens shouldn't have a supercilium. I had to weigh that when deciding on
whether or not they really were that subspecies. It's a good amount of
fun. (It's also hard. I can't see red that well. When is rufescent
different from rufous? Who knows)

Another aspect of subspecies birding is checking what media is on eBird;
do we have a photo of our present subspecies, in Vermont? Do we have
audio recordings? If not, I've been going out and trying to get some.
Driving to Franklin to see Upland Sandpipers for my life list takes time
and planning and gas, which is why I haven't done it yet. But hopping
outside my door and walking twenty feet to take the first photo in the
a /Turdus migratorius migratorius /is almost as satisfying, and a whole
lot easier to do. (Fascinatingly, we also should have American Robins
from Newfoundland - /Turdus migratorius nigrideus/ - migrating through
in the fall; look for a Robin with a black mantle and a deep red breast!)

If you're interested, I have a large Google Sheet with all of the
information I've collected on subspecies in Vermont. You can see it,
here: Due to the way that
the sheet is displayed, you can't see all of the Field Diagnostics
field. If anyone is interested, let me know if you'd like me to share
the original sheet with you, and I'd be happy to.

I'll slowly be adding each species to an individual page on, when I have the time. Birding is often
more fun than coding, so this progress is slow. Rewarding, though.

Hope this helps.


On 6/29/20 21:55, Ian Worley wrote:
> I would add to Zac's reply that the filters cover counties as a whole,
> and so if a species is uncommon or difficult to ID in one part of the
> county during a particular season, but common in another part, the
> filter might be set to identify potential errors based on that part of
> the county where errors might occur.
> For example, in the Champlain Valley shorebirds common by Lake
> Champlain during fall, let's say, might also occur at high elevations
> rarely, but with a relatively high frequency of mistaken IDs.  The
> filter could be set to catch those errors, meaning that birders
> reporting the birds from the shores of Lake Champlain will have the
> same flagging.  The reviewer simply confirms those without ado.  It is
> not possible in eBird to have separate filters within counties like
> ours, such as one for lakes and wetlands, one for lowlands, one for
> highlands, and one for tundra.  The filters, however, are finely tuned
> to the changes in seasons.
> If you are curious about a filter setting, contact the local reviewer.
> Good birding and safe health.
> Ian
> ---------------------------
> Reviewing Addison, Chittenden, Grand Isle, and Franklin Counties
> ==============================================================
> .
> On 6/29/2020 9:38 PM, Zacheriah Cota-Weaver wrote:
>> Ruth,
>> All of the local eBird reviewers set their own filters based on county
>> levels. These filters allow reviewers to catch eBird observations
>> that have
>> potential for data errors, such as rare or easily misidentified species.
>> The eBird needs alerts and rare bird alerts are based on observations
>> flagged by these filters. When you see common species showing up on
>> these
>> lists, it is likely that a birder chose to report a subspecies that
>> triggered one of the filters. Most eBird reviewers have subspecies
>> flagged
>> to ensure the proper written description or evidence is provided when
>> identifications are made to that taxonomic level.
>> Below I've linked an article about the review process that might help
>> further answer your question. It's one that I'm sure other eBirders have
>> had as well. Cheers!
>> Zac Cota
>> Washington County eBird Reviewer
>> On Mon, Jun 29, 2020 at 9:27 PM R Stewart <2cnewbirds...> wrote:
>>> Can someone please inform why certain very common birds keep showing
>>> up on
>>> the Rare Bird Alert - such as Am Robin, (migratorius Group) , House
>>> Wren,
>>> Turkey Vulture, Common Yellowthroat, Barn Swallow, Song Sparrow, etc?
>>> AND why a Yellow-billed Cuckoo seen up N. is on the list and not the
>>> YBCU
>>> reported in the southern 'sun belt?"
>>> --
>>> Ruth Stewart
>>> E. Dorset VT
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