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Horned Grebe?


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I saw this today at William H. Haithco RA in Saginaw Michigan. I am wondering 1: Is this even a bird? I think it is, but it could just be part of the log. 2: Is this a Horned Grebe? and 3: Should I count this on my life list if it is? (I didn't directly see it, I saw the whole group of birds, but wasn't looking through my scope. I took some photos and looked through them later. I am unsure if my eyes ever rested on that exact bird, but I did see them as a group. 

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Any chance of going back?

I had a large buffy orb a few weeks ago, bobbing in some brush, that the photos showed to be a female Hooded Merganser.  I saw it, shot it specifically because it looked odd, and I suspected it was a bird.  I listed it and felt no guilt. 

Edited by Charlie Spencer
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yeah, tough one to call definitively, but FWIW, I like your original ID of a (non-breeding) Horned Grebe here as well.  I personally wouldn't count it, but I think you're right...if not Horned, then maybe Red-necked as blackburnian just suggested, though that one seems considerably more rare for the location...

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Horned Grebe.  It would go in eBird.  It is entirely up to you if you count it on Life List.  I have more than a few birds on my Life List that armchair finds.  For the most part I know which ones those are.  Probably why I do a horrible job keeping my photo library as clean as it should be.  

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If it was part of the log then for me that would be a better find than a grebe - I would definitely go back for photos.

I thought at first that the bill looked a little chunky but I think it is the lighting so I'm in the Horned camp.

I would have no problem reporting it on eBird (despite their "post visit find rule").

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1 hour ago, Peromyscus said:

What is this rule?

If a bird was not observed at the time but noticed in photos after the fact I believe eBird says it should not be reported. There may be a different way to report it. Correct me if I'm wrong.

I believe this came up some time ago and most people here said they would report it anyway.

I've had several cases of this, especially photos of low flying birds over marshes passing by other birds which I did not notice at the time but appeared in the photos.

I re-read the OP and I don't think the grebe was specifically observed at the time but, as I said, for me it wouldn't matter.

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I

10 hours ago, RobinHood said:

If a bird was not observed at the time but noticed in photos after the fact I believe eBird says it should not be reported. There may be a different way to report it. Correct me if I'm wrong.

I believe this came up some time ago and most people here said they would report it anyway.

I've had several cases of this, especially photos of low flying birds over marshes passing by other birds which I did not notice at the time but appeared in the photos.

I re-read the OP and I don't think the grebe was specifically observed at the time but, as I said, for me it wouldn't matter.

I don't see the rule on ebird........

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10 hours ago, RobinHood said:

If a bird was not observed at the time but noticed in photos after the fact I believe eBird says it should not be reported. There may be a different way to report it. Correct me if I'm wrong.

I believe this came up some time ago and most people here said they would report it anyway.

I've had several cases of this, especially photos of low flying birds over marshes passing by other birds which I did not notice at the time but appeared in the photos.

I re-read the OP and I don't think the grebe was specifically observed at the time but, as I said, for me it wouldn't matter.

If I remember right, that about counting lifers, but that question may well have come up as well and I just don't remember.

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1 hour ago, Tanager 101 said:

I don't see the rule on ebird........

The rule on eBird is "Include in your list... Birds you hear or see."  I never got an answer from anyone at eBird, but some people, who seemed to be very knowledgeable about ornithology and what eBird data are used for, told me that it doesn't include birds you didn't hear or see but showed up in your photos.  You can make an "Incidental" list for them instead.  The idea seems to be that abundance estimates are based on ideas of what people can see, not what shows up in their photos.  There's debate about it in the thread @Kevinlinked to.  In any case, as far as the quality of eBird data is concerned, this is a minor point.

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On 3/28/2022 at 12:57 PM, Avery said:

Do you have any other shots? It certainly looks like a grebe, but I could see it being a price of wood


Regardless if it is or isn’t a bird, whether it goes in your life list is up to you. I personally wouldn’t. 

 

On 3/28/2022 at 12:58 PM, meghann said:

Same.

Same same.  I'll count a lifer if, from what I observed in the field and found later in any photos and recordings and learned from any help I got, I'm sure it was that species.

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10 hours ago, Jerry Friedman said:

The rule on eBird is "Include in your list... Birds you hear or see." 

"Birds you hear or see - as long as you were able to confidently identify the bird, you should enter it regardless of whether you heard or saw it."

I think this paragraph is worded to confirm that audio identification is as valid as visual, not to exclude ID'ing from photos.

From the "Do NOT include in your lists" section, these are the only paragraphs that refer to images.  Neither mentions birds identified from photos you took in the field, pro or con.

  • "Remote sensed images or video - do not enter any data from nest cameras, feeder cameras, trail cams, Google maps, etc. 
  • "Media from other dates, places, or people - only add photos and sound recordings to your checklist if they were taken by you during that checklist."

From "Why doesn't eBird accept observations of dead, captive, or remotely sensed birds?" section:

"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). The process of detecting dead, captive, or online birds differs too greatly from in-person birding for us to combine these observations in our scientific database."

From Birding as your 'Primary Purpose' and Complete Checklists,

"Is my checklist complete?
Your checklist is complete if:

  • You made your best effort to see or hear all the birds around you
  • You made your best effort to identify every bird you saw or heard as precisely and accurately as possible (even if you couldn't count* or ID them all)
  • Every species you detected and identified, to the best of your ability, is included on your checklist"

With all that said, I can't find anything that explicitly takes a stand on identification from photos.  

*count - Do we agree it's okay to use photos to count the number of birds?  If so, why wouldn't identification also be acceptable?

Yours pedantically.

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The suggestion that was made here and at the eBird group on Facebook wasn't that you shouldn't use photos in identifying birds.  It was that you shouldn't list birds on eBird if you weren't aware of them till you saw them in your photos, or if you do list them, they should be in an incidental list.  My example was that I photographed ducks on a river, and when I looked at the pictures on my full-size screen, I saw a pipit on the bank.

So pedantically, as you say, these are not birds you saw or heard or observed.  You might say they were birds you detected, in a sense.

I agree that eBird gives no explicit rule against that.  However, some apparently knowledgeable people told me that listing birds you only saw in your photos causes problems with the methods ornithologists use to estimate bird abundances from eBird reports marked "complete".  Those would be minor problems.

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