How the Records Committee Works

The Rare Birds: 
The Utah Bird Records Committee reviews the following bird species:
  • Birds on the Review Species List.  (This list will change from time to time.  The general rule is to have species seen, on average, less than twice a year over a ten year period).
  • New bird species that have not been documented in Utah.
  • Birds that are seen out of their normal range or season.  (These birds will be recorded but not vetted by the Committee.
Sight Record Submissions:
When a "rare bird" is found, the observer submits the pertinent sighting information along with a any photos, and  audio or video tapes to the Records Committee Secretary, who posts the record on the internet so the nine voting members of the committee can review it to see whether it can be accepted as an official sighting for Utah.  (This does not decide whether the species reported was actually seen or not, just whether there is adequate documentation to be included on the Committee's official rare bird sightings). 

Records Committee Procedures:
When a sight record is received, it is presented to the committee  for a "1st round" of reviews.  In the first round the voting members can either accept the record, or reject it for any of three reasons: (1) the identification was not sufficiently established by the documentation, (2) the species was not shown to be naturally occurring or (3) establishment of a naturally breeding population has not been established. ( see section IV.C.3 of the Bylaws).  So the review is completely independent, votes and comments from the first round are not shared with other voting members until the round is completed.  The decision in the first round has to be unanimous -- if any reviewer has reservations or questions about a record, it can be sent to a second round.

In the "2nd round" votes and comments from the first round are presented to the committee. With new input from other members, a second review of the record is conducted yielding new votes and comments. A final decision is made if at least 6 of 9  members  (or a greater proportion) are in agreement.

If the vote in the 2nd round is "non-decisive" (receiving fewer than 6 votes either way) the record goes to a "3rd round" where the comments and "arguments" from the previous rounds are consider before a final vote is taken.  If the record is accepted by a simple majority of  the voting members then the record will be accepted as an official sighting for Utah and placed on the official sightings list, otherwise it will be placed on the "Comprehensive List of Rare Birds Sightings" list, which includes official sightings plus undocumented and other unofficial sightings.

(For all the details, see the UBRC Bylaws).

A Utah Bird Records Committee Report is periodically prepared summarizing all of the records reviewed by the committee. The report will be  published  in the Records Committee web pages and in any appropriate publication that may request to print it.

The Records Committee also publishes a bird checklist for Utah which includes all birds that have been documented in Utah along with "abundance" and "status" codes which describe how common a bird is and in what season of the year it is usually found in Utah.

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