Date: 3/18/23 11:30 am
From: maliadances via <maliadances...>
Subject: [pen-bird] Spring Migration - Using eBird, Documenting Rarities, High Counts, Merlin, Links to Help Files and more
Happy Spring Migration,

Everyone who has used eBird to report a *rare bird, unusually high counts of a species, or birds that are unusual for the time of year, or location* , is familiar with the automated prompt requesting more documentation. Just a few reminders about documenting your rare/unusual sightings on eBird:

*Written Documentation :* When you are prompted to provide documentation for a sighting of an unusual or rare bird, the #1 comment to add is *a description of the bird.* A description of the bird should contain field marks and defining physical or audible characteristics that helped you separate it from similar species. *This is* t *he most important element you can add to your checklist record.* The bird’s behavior, what the bird was doing, where it was seen etc. can add depth to the record, but a description of what the *bird looked/sounded like is the most important component*. Remember, the rarer the bird, the more important thorough documentation becomes. *Early Arrivals* : It is understood that not everyone will know if a bird is extremely early, sort of early, or just a little bit early. Some migrants return earlier than others some return a lot later than others. *So best to treat the prompt for more details for an early bird* in a similar way that you would treat *rare birds.* *Please provide a description of the what the bird looked like or sounded like.* *Lingering birds/Late departures:* Some species only spend the fall and winter here. They are not here year-round. The eBird filters are set to catch these late/lingering birds that will soon be heading to their breeding grounds and will also prompt for descriptive details. When writing your details, consider *how helpful your choice of words will be* to other eBirders, researchers, scientists and people doing important conservation work now, and far into the future.

*Photos and Audio:* eBird has made uploading photos and audio recordings relatively easy. Media are a great way to document your sightings. And we are fortunate in San Mateo County to have many good photographers. However, there are times that we see photos or hear audio, that are of a less than optimal quality and they alone do not support the ID of the bird. *If your uploaded media is less than optimal, please supplement your record by adding descriptions of the bird(s) as noted above.*


*Merlin ID: In a nut-shell…….* Merlin can give accurate ID suggestions, but Merlin can also be tragically wrong for both audio ID suggestions as well as photo ID suggestions. Always set your location for where you are birding. If Merlin is suggesting an audio ID, always best to try and see the bird that is vocalizing to help confirm its identity. And if you are reporting a bird that is rare and you are prompted to add details, “ID’d by Merlin” is not considered sufficient details alone. Please upload your audio or photos to your checklist to support your record. Here is the Merlin Best Practices from the eBird Help Files:

*“Details to be added” “Photos/Audio to be added”.* When compiling checklists in the field using a smart device, it can be difficult to type detailed notes. *For birds flagged for more details, please use comments like “Details to be added” or “Photos/Audio to be added” only as a temporary placeholder in your checklist comments.* Avoid making them permanent. Try to write your descriptions of the birds and field marks/notes etc. as soon as you can while the details are still fresh in your mind. Don’t wait until a time too far in the future when details are fuzzy at best. Upload your supporting photos and audio as soon as it is convenient, especially if it is a rarity you are documenting.

*Species High Counts for eBird records:* The mobile app now prompts species “High Counts” with a request for added details. A brief comment describing how the number was determined, i.e. “counted by 10’s” or “direct count” is what eBird is looking for. *In addition, in some cases, it may be necessary to confirm how the species was ID’d by providing a brief description of the species and how it was separated from similar species.*

*A Big Thank You* *to All* , for your media contributions, documentation and note-taking efforts to support rare bird sightings, unusually high counts of a species, or birds that are unusual for the time of year or location in San Mateo County. You make San Mateo County eBird a valuable database for all.

Below are more articles from the eBird Help Files:

*Good Birding and Happy Spring Migration,*

*Malia DeFelice*

*eBird-San Mateo County*

Here is an eBird help article about how to document your sightings.

For more information and tips for counting large numbers of birds or birds observed over a duration of time click here:

Here is an eBird help article that talks about uploading media.

We are seeing a lot of new users on eBird. If you are new to eBird here is a help article about Getting Started with eBird:

For new eBirders, I highly recommend taking the FREE eBird essentials course

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