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Vesper Sparrow? Sacramento, California


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I just got back from looking for the Vesper Sparrow I saw yesterday, Which I had no luck in finding. However, While I was looking at my photos I found a Sparrow that looks like it might be the Vesper in the back of a Photo with a Chipping Sparrow in it. I must have not noticed it at the time as I was Focused on the Chipping Sparrows since they are also quiet rare this time of year. Does this look like a Vesper or is it just one of the many Savannah Sparrows that were around me. 

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Thanks for the help.

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It does appear to have white on the outer tail feathers and a white eye ring...

However, I don’t think the photos give us enough to make a positive ID. I would leave this unidentified. Or pass it off as a Sav, though I may be wrong.

Even if it were an obvious Vesper Sparrow (which it is not, at least not obviously), I would be hesitant to count a “found in photos” bird in eBird. As you did not detect it in the field.

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3 minutes ago, AlexHenry said:

I would be hesitant to count a “found in photos” bird in eBird. As you did not detect it in the field.

If there is proof that it was there, why not count it? Sort of like counting a bird if you only heard it. 

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1 hour ago, Colton V said:

If there is proof that it was there, why not count it? Sort of like counting a bird if you only heard it. 

Because the point is to keep a list of all birds you hear and see in the field. That’s why things like duration and distance of the checklist are relevant. If you don’t see or hear a bird in the field, you shouldn’t count it.

 Counting a “found in photos” bird is in my opinion more akin to counting a bird photographed by a remote trail cam or something like that. You, the observer, didn’t detect the bird; it doesn’t matter if there is evidence it was there or not, if you don’t detect it, you shouldn’t count it.

 

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Also, I think there is a distinction to be made here...

I think you should not count “found in photos” birds (ie, birds you didn’t notice whatsoever in the field), but you should count birds that you do observe in the field but are not able to confidently ID until you share photos/audio/descriptions with others - so if you notice and photograph a bird you are unsure of, then share the photo here to get help with the ID, that’s definitely fair game in my book.

Edited by AlexHenry
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27 minutes ago, AlexHenry said:

Because the point is to keep a list of all birds you hear and see in the field. That’s why things like duration and distance of the checklist are relevant. If you don’t see or hear a bird in the field, you shouldn’t count it.

 Counting a “found in photos” bird is in my opinion more akin to counting a bird photographed by a remote trail cam or something like that. You, the observer, didn’t detect the bird; it doesn’t matter if there is evidence it was there or not, if you don’t detect it, you shouldn’t count it.

 

Are you saying it shouldn’t be counted for scientific reasons or for personal reasons? Part of eBird’s purpose is to get an idea of what birds are where. I feel like if you have proof that a bird was at a location, you should report the bird on eBird because it will help eBird get a better idea of the bird’s distribution and population, especially if it’s a rare or unusual species. However I know that eBird’s instructions are to include only birds you see and hear on checklists, so I can see why there could be an issue with this.

Now for personal reasons, I totally understand not wanting to include it on your own personal life list because how one keeps track of their own birding is entirely up to one’s self. It wouldn’t make much sense to include a bird on my personal life list if I didn’t see or hear it at all. 

I’m not trying to argue with you or invalidate your point, just trying to get your thoughts on the matter because I’m a beginning birder and probably don’t understand eBird very well. 

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32 minutes ago, Colton V said:

Are you saying it shouldn’t be counted for scientific reasons or for personal reasons?

For scientific reasons. Yes, eBird’s purpose is to collect data on what birds are where, but the data is intended to come from field observations from birders. So I think you should report the birds you observe, in person, in the field, during the checklist. No more and no less.

eBird is designed to collect in-person observations of living wild birds. When eBird data is used for science and conservation, researchers assume observations were made using more or less the same process (i.e., all birds were observed alive and in situ).”

 

Edited by AlexHenry
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My camera has more range than my binos and better resolution than my eyes.

I took a long-range shot recently of a Canada Goose.  When I looked at the photo closely two days later, I found seven Killdeer.  I added them to the checklist without a second thought.

I've taken series of adjoining images of large, crowded flocks of waders specifically to scan them later and what I may have missed.  I'm not doing this as a substitute for spending time looking them; it's more like a back-up.

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@AlexHenry I don't know, that seems a bit of an arbitrary constraint and is certainly very much a personal preference. Clearly, if a bird ended up in a photo, you, at least in some capacity, saw the bird in the field, so how the line is drawn is not quite clear to me.

As to the purpose of ebird, while when read alone that interpretation might seem reasonable, I think in context it's pretty clear that the data collection part of ebird is to assess bird populations and trends, not as a social study on the way in which birders observe. IF you document a species at a location and have photographic evidence that it was there, regardless of whether you noticed it or not it would seem very much in the spirit to include the sighting, as it provides useful information to other birders and scientific study. Now, whether you count that on personal lists is totally to one's discretion.

 

Edited by Hasan
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I mean if you list a "found in photos" bird on occasion that's fine, it honestly probably doesn't matter very much.

But it is important for data collection purposes for all observers to follow some sort of standardized protocol. The rules, guidelines, and best practices are available on eBird. While the language may be open to interpretation to a certain degree, I think its pretty clear that you are supposed to list, and to only list, all birds seen and heard by the observer during the checklist duration. A found in photos bird (which the observer did not notice in the field) was not seen or heard by the observer in the field, and therefore, following the rules and best practices as written on eBird, should not be included in a checklist.

But again, the number of birds this debate applies to should be small enough to be negligible, so its probably not a very important point. 

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1 hour ago, Hasan said:

the data collection part of ebird is to assess bird populations and trends, not as a social study on the way in which birders observe. 

I respectfully disagree. These two notions are inextricably linked as a part of one of the worlds largest biodiversity citizen science projects. eBird cares a great deal in understanding and even influencing birder behavior. 

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7 hours ago, AlexHenry said:

I think its pretty clear that you are supposed to list, and to only list, all birds seen and heard by the observer during the checklist duration.

The actual wording is all birds identified.  I see and hear plenty of birds I am unable to identify.  I don't report those, or I report them as 'species' if I can make that determination.

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This topic has got me wondering - I hadn't even considered that "found in photos" birds should not be added to a list.

We had some Snow Geese recently at a local hot spot which were tagged and had to be reviewed. On my last visit it was a miserable day and in the brief time I hung around I only spotted the "white morphs". After the fact I found the "blue morphs" buried in amongst the hundreds of Canada Geese.

I thought about adding these to my original post for completeness of data, but didn't, and would have said they were found after the fact. I am fairly sure the reviewer would have accepted the revision but @AlexHenry and @DLecy are saying the reviewer shouldn't.

This seems to be a fairly subtle difference from seeing "a bird" at the time and IDing it after the fact from a photo.

How about an extremely rare bird not noticed at the time and then found in a photo? I have to think about this a bit more.

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6 minutes ago, RobinHood said:

How about an extremely rare bird not noticed at the time and then found in a photo? I have to think about this a bit more.

I would think it even more important to list a rare bird.  That would document it was present at that location and date.  Depending on how recent the photo was, listing it would allow others to see it.

"Well, I found an Ivory-billed in a photo last week but since I didn't notice it in the field, I didn't list it."

Edited by Charlie Spencer
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14 minutes ago, RobinHood said:

I thought about adding these to my original post for completeness of data, but didn't, and would have said they were found after the fact. I am fairly sure the reviewer would have accepted the revision but @AlexHenry and @DLecy are saying the reviewer shouldn't.

This seems to be a fairly subtle difference from seeing "a bird" at the time and IDing it after the fact from a photo.

I 100% agree that it’s a pretty subtle difference, and not a very important distinction. And I think most or all reviewers would accept/confirm it if you changed it after the fact to add a “found in photos” bird.

However, if you asked the reviewer what they personally would do in this situation, I *think* the advice would be the following (I am speculating a bit here).

I *think* the advice would be to leave the checklist as-is, but to add a note mentioning that there was a bird of interest present but that you did not detect it in the field. 

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10 hours ago, RobinHood said:

We had some Snow Geese recently at a local hot spot which were tagged and had to be reviewed. On my last visit it was a miserable day and in the brief time I hung around I only spotted the "white morphs". After the fact I found the "blue morphs" buried in amongst the hundreds of Canada Geese.

I thought about adding these to my original post for completeness of data, but didn't, and would have said they were found after the fact. I am fairly sure the reviewer would have accepted the revision but @AlexHenry and @DLecy are saying the reviewer shouldn't.

That's not what I said at all. Please read my original post. I made a remark on the purpose of eBird, not about the review process.

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On 1/12/2021 at 12:17 AM, Hasan said:

the data collection part of ebird is to assess bird populations and trends, not as a social study on the way in which birders observe.

 

On 1/12/2021 at 2:03 AM, DLecy said:

I respectfully disagree. These two notions are inextricably linked as a part of one of the worlds largest biodiversity citizen science projects. eBird cares a great deal in understanding and even influencing birder behavior.

Thanks for the clarification DLecy. I basically agree with your statement about the two components although to my mind the former is the primary objective and the latter the somewhat imperfect method of achieving it, which at the same time improves birder skills and methodology.

So you haven't actually declared whether you are for or against the acceptability of "photo find" reporting.

I've decided to continue to do it but in the case of an "important' find (I try to stay positive) I will be clear about the circumstances in my report. Compared to the behaviour mentioned in the other thread about eBird abuses this seems a relatively minor issue.

Interesting discussion for me (probably being missed by most) as I rely on my photos a lot - mainly for ID confirmation but sometimes to verify my counts after the fact.

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7 hours ago, Jerry Friedman said:

i just joined the eBird discussion group on Facebook to ask this question.

Just as long as you didn't join Facebook itself to ask it!  I still haven't gotten over my security concerns.  I know that on Whatbird, the discussions will pretty much stay on birding, and the amount of personal info requested is minimal. 

Edited by Charlie Spencer
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2 hours ago, RobinHood said:

So you haven't actually declared whether you are for or against the acceptability of "photo find" reporting.

I won't get into it because I think this topic has veered off of bird ID. I do however think this would be an appropriate topic for the "Photo Sharing and Discussion" Forum, and I would gladly give my two cents in a thread over there. I just don't think this thread should continue to be bumped since we have established that the bird in question was a Savannah Sparrow and all other comments afterwards have been abut other things (Facebook, security, eBird, eBird review process, photo ID-ing, etc.). 

And while I admit that I am guilty of adding to this thread in a on-ID sense, I think it's time to stop and move it elsewhere.

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