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Colton V

Count birds you hear on checklists?

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I do a lot of birding by ear. For many birds it’s easy to hear them sing but hard to get a visual. I usually report birds I hear on eBird checklists. For example, I have heard a Western Screech-Owl on multiple occasions but I have yet to see one. I reported them on eBird on those occasions. Should I have? What are your thoughts on this? Do you count birds you hear on your checklists?

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Yes, as long as you are confident in the ID.  I like to include an audio recording in my checklists every once in a while to show the reviewers and other eBirders that I do know my bird sounds....at least most of the time...😄  It's easier to trust eBirders who include photos and audio.

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This is why it's so crucial to develop your ear as a birder- depending on the location and habitat you might miss 30-40% of species if you aren't able to pick them out by ear. Even if you don't want to count heard only birds, it's still so critical that you're able to identify birds by ear because it will alert you to where specific species are, so you can look for them without wasting time finding every common bird you hear.

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Posted (edited)

Participants in the World Series of Birding or Big Days count in a 24-hour period.  Obviously that includes long stretches of darkness when they wouldn't be able to see birds.  They're expected to include birds ID'ed only by call in the dark, otherwise the competitions would run sunrise to sunset (or 'Beginning Morning Nautical Twilight' though to 'Ending Evening Nautical Twilight', for the technical / picky / obsessive / anal).

Edited by Charlie Spencer

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I seldom do this and only when I am 100% confident (a fairly short list of birds in this category).

I wonder whether they should always be reported as "heard" - some birders do and a lot don't. For those that do this a lot I guess it would be a bit of a chore.

OTOH birds reported as seen without backup are possibly no more reliable (or perhaps they are). All down to the skill level of the observer.

I "heard" a Least Bittern the other day that was tagged because of the time of year but was not accepted.

The day before that I "saw" one at a different location, tagged also for the same reason, but was accepted with no backup.

 

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Posted (edited)
19 minutes ago, RobinHood said:

I seldom do this and only when I am 100% confident (a fairly short list of birds in this category).

I wonder whether they should always be reported as "heard" - some birders do and a lot don't. For those that do this a lot I guess it would be a bit of a chore.

OTOH birds reported as seen without backup are possibly no more reliable (or perhaps they are). All down to the skill level of the observer.

I "heard" a Least Bittern the other day that was tagged because of the time of year but was not accepted.

The day before that I "saw" one at a different location, tagged also for the same reason, but was accepted with no backup.

I write "Heard only" for all birds I heard and didn't see.  It doesn't take long; I just copy it and paste it in the details of the species I only heard.  I do this mainly because, when I am looking at other eBirders' checklists for birds I want to see, I want to know if that bird was seen (which means it was in the area) or not (which means it could have been far away).

I guess we do have an advantage as we have been birding with our local eBird reviewer many times.

Edited by The Bird Nuts
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On 8/23/2020 at 12:50 PM, RobinHood said:

OTOH birds reported as seen without backup are possibly no more reliable (or perhaps they are). All down to the skill level of the observer.

There are some species that so closely resemble others, songs and calls are the only way to distinguish them in the field.  In those case, the birds seen are likely to be LESS accurate than the ones heard!

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Actually if you do not report heard only species you should mark the list on eBird as “Incomplete”. (That is, if you can identify a vocalization, you should report it, or your data is incomplete. However if you can’t identify the vocalization, no worries).

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