About Life Lists, I’m sure organizations have rules, but unless you are trying to make the list for the organization, it’s your life and your list, so you can make your own criteria.
For myself, a new species which I encounter will necessarily be unfamiliar and may be confusing, so I may be uncertain at first. Also, birds which are not new species to me may appear different enough to be suspected to be new. I’m not the best at studying and memorizing the field marks of unexpected species beforehand, so these are learning experiences as I try to figure out what I found. But over the course of many such situations (including months in Costa Rica, which hosts as many bird species as the US & Canada within and area the size of West Virginia, before Costa Rica had a convenient field guide) I have tried to develop the habit of noticing everything I can about an odd bird, so I can write my observations in a notebook or an eBird report. So, what “counts” for my lists? I don’t need to have known what species the bird was at the exact time of the encounter (which may be brief), nor do I need to be the person who first made the ID, but I want to have seen or heard enough features to distinguish that bird as that species. For me, seeing a new or rare bird, and only saying that some other authoritative person identified it, while I can’t say why or I didn’t see the field marks or hear the sound well enough, well that doesn’t cut it. It’s frustrating, but there are times when I just have to say that the bird may well be what they said, but I didn’t see or hear it well enough, and it does not go on my list. If you are with someone who confidently IDs a bird about which you are not confident, I think it’s okay to ask how they made the ID. They may not be good at explaining, because many birders are not practiced at organizing and communicating their observations, but it’s worth asking, and good birders should be willing to share their knowledge. When I was a field trip leader for Spring Field Ornithology, we took a chartered bus on a weekend trip to southern New Jersey in early May, where we encountered many species which are not typically found in the Cayuga Lake Basin. Also, many of the birders were fairly inexperienced, so there were a lot of Life Birds for people. We kept track of what species the group encountered, and the rule was that an individual bird had to be identified as that species by at least 2 members of the group, and at least 1 of those people had to be a student, not a leader. That kept leaders focused on sharing birds with students. But if the species is novel to the student, how can the student attest to it? I would try to call out the field marks I saw when a bird was in view and describe what made a song special in between the times a bird sang, and I would review the information with students afterward, preferably with an open field guide in hand. I maintained that if the student saw the distinguishing field marks or heard the distinguishing sounds, and was comfortable saying so, even if the learning happened after the few seconds of observation, then that should count as an observation of the species. Merlin, however, is not a teacher who studied field guides to remember and communicate distinguishing field marks. Merlin is an artificial intelligence program which is fed lots of images and recorded vocalizations which people have previously categorized as being of a given species as well as many more which people have categorized as not that species. But the people don’t tell the AI why they believe those IDs to be the case. The program compares and “learns” to recognize and distinguish that species, but the AI never articulates how or why it reaches that conclusion. So, Merlin is a help, but it’s not a teacher. Merlin is a fun and useful tool, so use it, but I say then reach for the field guide which discusses what distinguishes species from each other. Jot down any of those field marks or vocal characteristics which you observed, and any which did not agree or which you did not see. For me, this studying & note-taking during and after an observation makes it something I can build upon, so I get to know the species better during subsequent encounters. And, yes, there are birds on my lists which were identified by sound and not seen, although I still make an effort to see the bird later, because that is more satisfying. And all that goes into my notes within the list. The Alder Flycatcher I heard yesterday under the powerlines at Sapsucker Woods is in that category for my year list. Little blighter kept singing but was invisible. - - Dave Nutter > On May 25, 2022, at 6:47 PM, James Gaffney <jgaff...@gmail.com> wrote: > > I agree wholeheartedly. It’s a lot of fun and a great way to find birds whose > songs I’m not familiar with. I was out in Arizona last week and the sound ID > helped me find birds I had never seen before. > Question to the group. If Merlin picks up a bird that is a life list bird > and you don’t eyeball it can you list it as heard? I would think not but I’m > interested in thoughts from you all > Jim Gaffney > > Sent from my iPhone > >> On May 25, 2022, at 12:58 PM, Barbara Hotchkiss <barahotchk...@gmail.com> >> wrote: >> >> Many thanks, as always, for your edifying info! Love this little singer’s >> melody, what that little phoebe says?! >> Warmly, >> Bar’bara’ >> >>> On May 25, 2022, at 12:42 PM, Jay McGowan <jw...@cornell.edu> wrote: >>> >>> >>> Hi Barbara, >>> That's a Say's Phoebe. And yes, you can import videos into the app as well >>> as audio from other apps, although it's easiest to record straight onto >>> Merlin. >>> >>> Since we're on the subject, I thought I would put out a quick public >>> service reminder regarding Merlin and reporting birds to eBird. Merlin >>> Sound ID is an amazing resource to help birders learn bird sounds and pick >>> up more on the birds around them. We're also working hard to expand Sound >>> ID to other parts of the world (many species in Europe are already >>> covered). However, it's important for all of us to remember that the IDs >>> Merlin gives are suggestions, or best guesses. We're achieving spectacular >>> accuracy thanks to the hard work of staff and volunteers who have annotated >>> thousands of recordings, but bird sounds are variable, and some are just as >>> tricky for Merlin as they are for birders (think Dark-eyed Junco vs. Pine >>> Warbler etc.) So please, DO NOT simply take Merlin's word for an ID when it >>> comes to adding it to your eBird checklist. Use it as a starting point, and >>> try to confirm visually or by comparing the recording to others before >>> settling on an ID. If Merlin suggests something uncommon and you think it's >>> correct, please upload your recording along with the observation in eBird. >>> >>> Thanks! >>> Jay McGowan >>> Macaulay Library, Cornell Lab >>> >>>> On Wed, May 25, 2022 at 12:20 PM Barbara Hotchkiss >>>> <barahotchk...@gmail.com> wrote: >>>> Here’s the songbird in question; heard/seen in Boulder CO >>>> https://share.icloud.com/photos/053Nl_RqRT3l4PlHfyzo0fiKg >>>> >>>> Warm regards, >>>> Bar’bara’ >>>> >>>>> On May 25, 2022, at 10:41 AM, Nita L. Irby <n...@cornell.edu> wrote: >>>>> >>>>> Sorry to clutter the list but I have to get this off my chest: >>>>> >>>>> Merlin’s sound ID function is the absolute bees knees! Thank you so very >>>>> much to its developers. >>>>> >>>>> Merlin has engaged my friends and family in ways I have not seen before. >>>>> My husband, for example, “likes“ birds but won’t even pick up a pair of >>>>> binoculars. Last night he said “get your phone and come out front quick!” >>>>> because, he said, the bird sounds were astounding (and they were). He >>>>> stood there with Merlin for the longest time, turning, recording and >>>>> listening, and the look on his face was great. This morning he grabbed my >>>>> phone again walking along the East Hill trail….. >>>>> >>>>> Thank you, Merlin people! Thank you sound library people! So amazing. >>>>> >>>>> Nita Irby >>>>> Dryden >>>>> >>>>> >>>>> >>>>> -- >>>>> >>>>> Cayugabirds-L List Info: >>>>> http://www.NortheastBirding.com/CayugabirdsWELCOME >>>>> http://www.NortheastBirding.com/CayugabirdsRULES >>>>> http://www.NortheastBirding.com/CayugabirdsSubscribeConfigurationLeave.htm >>>>> >>>>> ARCHIVES: >>>>> 1) http://firstname.lastname@example.org/maillist.html >>>>> 2) http://www.surfbirds.com/birdingmail/Group/Cayugabirds >>>>> 3) http://birdingonthe.net/mailinglists/CAYU.html >>>>> >>>>> Please submit your observations to eBird: >>>>> http://ebird.org/content/ebird/ >>>>> >>>>> -- >>>> -- >>>> Cayugabirds-L List Info: >>>> Welcome and Basics >>>> Rules and Information >>>> Subscribe, Configuration and Leave >>>> Archives: >>>> The Mail Archive >>>> Surfbirds >>>> BirdingOnThe.Net >>>> Please submit your observations to eBird! >>>> -- >>> >>> >>> -- >>> Jay McGowan >>> Macaulay Library >>> Cornell Lab of Ornithology >>> jw...@cornell.edu >> -- >> Cayugabirds-L List Info: >> Welcome and Basics >> Rules and Information >> Subscribe, Configuration and Leave >> Archives: >> The Mail Archive >> Surfbirds >> BirdingOnThe.Net >> Please submit your observations to eBird! >> -- > > -- > Cayugabirds-L List Info: > Welcome and Basics > Rules and Information > Subscribe, Configuration and Leave > Archives: > The Mail Archive > Surfbirds > BirdingOnThe.Net > Please submit your observations to eBird! > -- -- Cayugabirds-L List Info: http://www.NortheastBirding.com/CayugabirdsWELCOME http://www.NortheastBirding.com/CayugabirdsRULES http://www.NortheastBirding.com/CayugabirdsSubscribeConfigurationLeave.htm ARCHIVES: 1) http://email@example.com/maillist.html 2) http://www.surfbirds.com/birdingmail/Group/Cayugabirds 3) http://birdingonthe.net/mailinglists/CAYU.html Please submit your observations to eBird: http://ebird.org/content/ebird/ --