[wisb] Thoughts on reporting rare/interesting birds

  • From: Peter Fissel <pfissel@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: Wisconsin Birding Network <wisbirdn@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sun, 16 Jan 2011 21:38:09 -0600

I concur with Jesse's comments - it's definitely better to risk a mis-ID than 
to be afraid of reporting something potentially good.  I think beginning or 
less-advanced birders often feel somewhat intimidated and worry about looking 
foolish, but as I always emphasize to newbies on my field trips, even 
highly-experienced birders make mistakes.  It's how you learn!  Never be afraid 
to point out something that you can't fully ID, even if you suspect it's not 
anything uncommon - maybe it really IS something unusual, and happens to be a 
very tough bird to separate from another, more common species.  At the very 
least, even if it turns out not to be the rarity you hoped it was, you'll get 
some (hopefully) useful feedback and gain some knowledge. (And, if you're like 
me, you'll have to forget something else to make room for that new tidbit of 
info, but I digress...)
As a corrollary, even if you're an experienced birder, something you regard as 
not very notable might be really exciting to someone who's seldom or never seen 
that species. This is particulary true if you're birding in an area far removed 
from your home turf.  I would barely look twice at a Semi-palmated Sandpiper 
here in July - in Arizona, it's an RBA species. (Just as an Arizona birder 
would barely glance at a Western Sandpiper in Wisconsin.)  Speak up,  share,  
use the wondrous new technological tools we have.  As Jesse pointed out, think 
about the "old days" of phone hotlines, versus iPhones with birding apps.  
Peter Fissel 
Madison WI 
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