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      Whatbird Forums Rules   01/08/17

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Melkor

eBird Confirmation Frustration

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Hi birders-

Just what does it take to get eBird to confirm a sighting? Do you always need an A+ picture? 

I recently saw a Red-Headed Woodpecker out here in NH (a very exciting moment for me), and sent in a highly detailed NH Rare Bird Confirmation form and they still snubbed it. Kinda' took the wind out of my sails a bit. 

I've never fancied myself a wildlife photographer, and I don't enjoy carrying around a large camera whilst birding, so can I assume that a sighting sans photo will be brushed aside?

Is it elitism? "They" don't recognize my name from ornithology class? Maybe it's because I don't rub elbows with the birding crowd on group trips? All of these?

You might think someone would look at my past eBird lists and deduce that I'm uber-careful with id's. I only discovered eBird in 2015 (believe it or not) so maybe they don't realize I've been staring at bird books since I was in first grade. Doesn't mean that I'm some sort of "Master Birder" (not close), but I do know the difference between a RHWO and...everything else!

I apologize for venting, this being my first ever post to this forum. Nothing but positivity here on out!

Scott Lemire

 

 

 

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Every eBird reviewer is going to be different, so it's impossible to speculate on personal reasons why they have not accepted your sighting.  It can sometimes take a while for reviewers to get around to a report.  It's also possible that the reviewer simply doesn't think your description is good enough evidence to confirm your sighting.  How long ago did you submit your sighting? Have you gotten an email from them requesting more information?

If you haven't already, I'd suggest reading through this. It lays out how the eBird review process works: http://help.ebird.org/customer/portal/articles/1055676-understanding-the-ebird-review-and-data-quality-process

Also: not sure if I'd call this "elitism," but I'm sure that the rare bird reports from locally well-trusted/well-known birders are sometimes taken more seriously than others.  In many cases, I think this is justified.  In some cases, (hopefully not often) maybe there's unfair favoritism.  But as I said, it's not a good idea to speculate too far here, because every situation will be different.  

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Hey Scott,

You are not alone with your frustrations.  However, I wouldn't react too soon yet.  I checked the NH alerts page, and see that NONE of the flagged reports from the last week have been approved (some have very good pictures).  It is possible that the reviewer is on vacation and hasn't had a chance to look at any reports recently.

Also, even if your report doesn't get approved, it doesn't necessarily mean they think you were wrong.  Some reviewers are very careful, and only want to accept records that are undoubtedly correct.  Sometimes a report may sound pretty good, and they can't say it is wrong, but just may not meet their personal criteria to be accepted to the public database.

Reviewers certainly can have a hard time receiving reports from people they are not familiar with.  There are many reports that are just WAY off, however, there are reports of very good birds that are correct from unknown birders.

The reviewers don't have complete access to other users accounts.  They can only see your other checklists if you have a public profile, and they only have access to as much as any other eBird user.

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Sometimes things take just time. A data reviewer I talked to said that he has had up to 9000 checklists to review on any one day...that takes a lot of time! I normally expect it to take at least two weeks for sighting to be reviewed, often up to a month. Occasionally it will happen within hours, one time it took four months. 

As guy_incognito noted it will happen sometimes that the reviewer may even believe a sighting but not confirm it because it lacks good deals and doesn't fit their personal standards for confirmation. A good description will go a long way to help with this. 

Good luck. 

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Another note, some reviewers only confirm really rare records after the state committee has ruled one them, a process that only happens once or twice a year. If Red-headed Woodpecker is a Review-list species for the state, it might be a while before they get around to looking at the record. 

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While not one myself, I get the impression that being an ebird reviewer can be overwhelming at times, especially in highly birded areas.

Welcome aboard, Scott.  Lots of great stuff on here.

Ron

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Thanks for all the replies. Insightful and somewhat encouraging.

An update: Red-Headed never confirmed, and even the Common Shelduck I saw with several others (8/28/17) not confirmed (though the sightings by others were!) Weird...

Anyway, I guess I'll forget about the "contributing to science" part, and just use eBird as a digital life-list.

Thanks again for the opinions!

 

Scott

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You are still contributing to science if one or two birds were not accepted. Don't worry - if you keep submitting records of rare birds with plausible reports, then they should begin to get accepted. It is best if you can get some form of documentation (even a blurry phone picture), but of course, a thorough written explanation is also fine. I agree with you, Ebird is a good tool for keeping lists. 

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It can be the eBird system sometimes.  My Baird's Sandpiper last month is probably the third time I've had a sighting be approved by the reviewer (without my knowledge) and it disappear.  It didn't pop up on the birds seen for the county, but I knew the reviewer had a baby recently so figured he just wasn't caught up.  What really perplexed me is I looked on eBird for confirmed and unconfirmed pictures for Baird's and none of them showed up.  This only works if you upload to eBird as a check.  I deleted the bird from the checklist, and resubmitted it today.  Reviewer sent me an email saying he approved it originally and should be good to go now.

 

i just looked at New Hampshire pictures for confirmed and unconfirmed and saw one picture of a rare bird form submitted.  Not sure they should have included their personal address in there.  So if you uploaded a picture of the form to eBird you could have had the same thing happen.  

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