A Committee of the New York State Ornithological Association
How to Document a Rare Bird Last updated 3/23/05
Thank you for participating in the review process and for helping to advance our collective understanding of New York State's birdlife!
A list of species appropriate for NYSARC review can be found here. Please check the list before filling out or submitting a report, and submit a report only if the species or form is on the list!
Your report should contain the following essential information:
(1) Your name, address and if possible telephone number/ e-mail address.
(2) The location, time and date of the sighting.
(3) Names of other observers who saw the bird(s) in question. Note: Each observer should independently complete and submit a report.
(4) Description of the bird. Include as much detail as you can. Mention parts of the bird that could not be seen (e.g. legs or rump pattern)
(5) Can you age or sex the bird?
(6) Vocalizations (if any).
(7) Behavior (flying, feeding, resting, etc).
(8)Were similar species available for direct comparison?
(9)Viewing conditions (optics, light, weather etc).
(10) What separates this bird from similar species?
(11) Where photographs or any other forms of documentation made?
(12) Previous experience with this species.
(13) Is this description prepared from notes made with the bird in view? Notes made after the observation? From photographs? From memory?
(14) What reference material has been consulted and when?
(15) Do you have any reservations about the identification or origins of the bird?
We highly recommend the following links:
Donna L. Dittmann and Greg W. Lasley. (1992) How to Document Rare Birds. This article was originally published in the ABA's Birding magazine (June 1992, Vol. 24: Number 3, pp:145-159). Hosted by Greg Lasley's web site.
Claudia Wilds and Robert Hilton (1992) Emerging from the Silent Majority: Documenting Rarities. This article was originally published in Maryland Birdlife (March 1992, Vol. 48: Number 1, pp: 30). Hosted by the Maryland Ornithological Society web site.
Claudia Wilds (1985) On Taking a Notebook Afield. This article was originally published in Audubon Naturalist News(October 1985, pp:15). Hosted by the Maryland Ornithological Society web site.
Mike Patterson (1997) How to write convincing details Tips on writing informative descriptions and some neat tricks for drawing good field sketches.