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# of observers on checklists


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This probably doesn’t matter whatsoever, but I’m a bit curious what other people do. I tried looking it up on ebird but couldn’t find anything.

When submitting a checklist, you have the option to add the “number of observers” to a checklist. Before, I used to add how many people I was walking with to my checklists. Though, no one I know birds or is even a casual bird watcher, so they aren’t necessarily looking for birds. However, they know I am, so in a sense I guess they are but more to just point them out to me.

For the last year or so, I’ve started only putting ‘one observer’ whether or not I’m actually alone. I thought this was more accurate as I’m the only person who is actively looking for and recording bird species. Maybe one day I’ll have birding friends 🥲

Anyways, do other people do the same? Or do you add family members, friends, and so  on that you’re with whether or not they are actually looking for birds?

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I don't include people just because they're with me.

I include others if they participate to any degree.  Family members may spot a bird before I do and point it out, or they may ask for information about one I'm watching.  Non-birding strangers may see me with binos, conclude I'm a birder, and tell me about birds they've seen in the area.  I'll include those people who spotted or discussed, but not anyone else who was along.

One of my favorite birding memories is when I parked on the shoulder of a Georgia interstate to look at waterfowl.  Another car pulled over and two very enthusiastic locals got out to ask me about the birds.  The couple drove by that lake daily and always wondered what they were seeing.  They described other birds they'd seen on the lake, often well enough for me to identify.  We spent about 15 minutes, passing my binos back and forth, highlighted by a Baldie repeatedly strafing a flock of several dozen coots (it didn't catch anything).

Edited by Charlie Spencer
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I think you are doing it correctly to leave out any one who isn't actually birding.

@Charlie SpencerI love your story. I have had similar things happen many many times over the years. I enjoying sharing what I've learned with non-birders. Did this just the other day to a Mom and her 3 kids pointing out a Northern Parula we were actually looking down on at as we were at the top of a watch tower. There were many ohs and ahs and comments like beautiful bird...

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26 minutes ago, Charlie Spencer said:

Yeah, but I forgot the main point!  I included those two people in the 'Number of Observers' for that checklist.  They weren't birders but they were there and participated.

You're welcome! I say I love your story and...

I did not include the Mom and 3 kids it was a very brief encounter including only one bird species. Had someone stuck with me and Participated I would include them too. I would not include other birders making lists of their own.

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I chopped this from a page of protocols for a program we have in my state.  I think it agrees with other responses here to this topic, but I don't know it it's any sort of official policy for eBird.  It seems like a good general rule of thumb to use, though.

Does my landowner-partner ‘count’ when considering ‘Number of Observers”?

This depends on whether or not they are an ‘active observer’, i.e. pointing out birds that you may have overlooked, drawing your attention to singing or calling birds, identifying the birds that they are familiar with. If this is the case, you would include the landowner in the “Number of Observers”. If they are along for the ride, and you are pointing out birds to them, they would not be included in this number. 

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I also include non-birders if they are participating by looking for or pointing out birds. I haven't ever included people who were incidental - passers-by who gave some information or pointed something out, but weren't with me for the birdings session. If I'm with other birders who are making their own lists I do include them in my number of birders, but my list may be different from theirs, if they see some birds I didn't or the other way around, or if I wasn't sure of an ID but they felt they were, something like that.

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59 minutes ago, Aveschapines said:

If I'm with other birders who are making their own lists I do include them in my number of birders, but my list may be different from theirs, if they see some birds I didn't or the other way around, or if I wasn't sure of an ID but they felt they were, something like that.

I wish more people would use the option to share a list.   When a birder accepts someone else's shared list, the acceptor has the option to edit the list, personalizing it to his own observations.  You can add birds you saw that others missed, or delete birds others saw or ID'ed that you aren't comfortable listing.  I've been on walks where people submit five or six lists with the same uncommon sighting.  There weren't really six Spotted Snorklewhackers in the park that day, just individual checklists from the group of six people who all saw the same one bird.

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28 minutes ago, Charlie Spencer said:

I wish more people would use the option to share a list.   When a birder accepts someone else's shared list, the acceptor has the option to edit the list, personalizing it to his own observations.  You can add birds you saw that others missed, or delete birds others saw or ID'ed that you aren't comfortable listing.  I've been on walks where people submit five or six lists with the same uncommon sighting.  There weren't really six Spotted Snorklewhackers in the park that day, just individual checklists from the group of six people who all saw the same one bird.

We routinely share lists here, but I'd need to keep a personal list on paper to make the necessary changes later. When I do a formal bird count (I'm generally the one to fill out the paper list these days) I don't also do my own e-Bird list; but otherwise I usually would. What's the difference between six birders, all sharing their lists, with the Spotted Snorlkewhacker, and each having an edited shared list? Don't both scenarios suggest one bird seen by multiple observers?

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52 minutes ago, Aveschapines said:

We routinely share lists here, but I'd need to keep a personal list on paper to make the necessary changes later. When I do a formal bird count (I'm generally the one to fill out the paper list these days) I don't also do my own e-Bird list; but otherwise I usually would.

I'll do my own eBird even when I know the group list will be eventually shared.  Once I accept the shared list and make my changes, I delete my individual list.

52 minutes ago, Aveschapines said:

What's the difference between six birders, all sharing their lists, with the Spotted Snorlkewhacker, and each having an edited shared list?

Nothing.  My point was there's a difference between six birders sharing one list with a single SOSN on it, and six birders with six individual, unshared lists, each listing a SOSN.  Sorry if I failed to express that clearly.

Edited by Charlie Spencer
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15 minutes ago, Charlie Spencer said:

I'll do my own eBird even when I know the group list will be eventually shared.  Once I accept the shared list and make my changes, I delete my individual list.

Nothing.  My point was there's a difference between six birders sharing one list with a single SOSN on it, and six birders with six individual, unshared lists, each listing a SOSN.  Sorry if I failed to express that clearly.

OK That makes sense! Like I said, here birders freely share their lists as a habit. I didn't realize that wasn't common practice everywhere!

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5 minutes ago, Aveschapines said:

OK That makes sense! Like I said, here birders freely share their lists as a habit. I didn't realize that wasn't common practice everywhere!

I've been going infrequently for a few years with a group that meets monthly, but I can only recall one occasion when the group leader shared a list.  I've been on paid guided outings where the leader hasn't mentioned it.  I did share with the one group I led, but only four or five the roughly 15  people were interested.

Maybe I should be more aggressive about suggesting it to groups I'm in.  Obviously, there's no value in my wanting to see it done unless I'm going to do something about it.  

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I think other people have said what I would. If the people I'm with are noticing things too, they get counted. If they aren't, then they don't. When I went hiking with my dad, he's not a birder at all, but he's darn good at spotting them! I would have never seen the grouse if he hadn't spotted it. I definitely added him as an observer.

The shared checklist thing, it's hit or miss. I've been with other birders that say nothing about it, and then I've birded with some groups where at  the beginning someone will just shout out "Who's doing the checklist?" and someone volunteers and adds everyone.

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Thanks for the responses everyone! 
I guess I’ll add them to certain checklists in the future then. 
Though, usually it goes like this:

”What’s that!?” *points*

”A Robin”

”Oh, it looked different for some reason”

I don’t know how I’d feel about a shared checklist. I’d like the fact that it’s one less thing to have to focus on/hold, but also seems like you’d give up your control in a way and then you’d still have to keep track of your list anyway…. Idk. Maybe if it was with one or two other people and not a group of 10 or something. 

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12 minutes ago, Aaron said:

Thanks for the responses everyone! 
I guess I’ll add them to certain checklists in the future then. 
Though, usually it goes like this:

”What’s that!?” *points*

”A Robin”

”Oh, it looked different for some reason”

I don’t know how I’d feel about a shared checklist. I’d like the fact that it’s one less thing to have to focus on/hold, but also seems like you’d give up your control in a way and then you’d still have to keep track of your list anyway…. Idk. Maybe if it was with one or two other people and not a group of 10 or something. 

The shared checklist thing can be a bit much with a large group, but it's also kind of fun, too. I just go through it later and delete me from the birds I know I didn't see. I don't worry too much about the counts or anything. (especially if I'm with birders with a lot more experience. In that scenario, I also rarely have things to add that I saw that they didn't.)

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