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Unconfirmed reports and ebirder status


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Ever so slowly starting to care more and more about my county list and my standing in respect to other people.

Which made me think of how I ‘know’ certain people who report birds with no evidence regularly that don’t get confirmed, or report a bird wrong with a photo, but don’t change it once it’s flagged and blah blah blah.

I remember reading somewhere that if your sighting doesn’t get confirmed it still gets added to your life list, but does anyone know if that is publicly displayed? Of course the sighting does not get displayed, but it can still exist within the public checklist if you click on it. 

Like if I, right now, report an American flamingo (and I wouldn’t get kicked off ebird for it), would my standing in the top ebirders of my county/province/country/world go up? Or would that need to be confirmed in order for other people see that my life list increased? And I guess if the same happens for hotspot rankings…

Not that it matters to me, as I’m in no way near competitive status, but it got me curious to know if the top ebirders around are all based on confirmed sightings or not.

I assume an unconfirmed sighting would not make your standing go up as that’d seem a bit too easy to cheat.

Anybody know?

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I don't really know the answer to this, however I think there is a way to tell. Look at reports of the top birders of your area. Based on how often they go out, whether they have photos of rarities, or simply based on the feel you get based on their sightings, you can kinda tell whether they're actually seeing the stuff. If they go out to look for a previously reported rarity, and don't see it, you can trust them, because they didn't just submit it without photos even if they didn't see it. 

This was kind of hard to explain, so if it's confusing, forgive me. 

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Yes it stays on your list.  I had a Short-eared Owl on my list that wasn't confirmed, but it stayed in my species count.  It was a yard bird, so no hotspots impacted, but I think it would even count in the species count if it was at a hotspot.  

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The three people I know about either aren’t in the top 100 or don’t have a public account or else I’d maybe do some stalking 😂. I trust the people in the top 100, as I have no reason not to, was just curious if those unconfirmed sightings played a role in the ranking system.

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Posted (edited)

Look up the top birders all time in Clark, Nevada. How many species have I seen on that list, from your perspective? I have two review species (AFCD and MUSW) on there right now, both with photos. If you see 223, then my two review ones aren't counted. If you see 225, then they are counted.

Edit: Actually, I see 224 because it doesn't have my FRGU from today, but it does count the other two. I'm #65 right now.

Edited by Zoroark
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51 minutes ago, Zoroark said:

Look up the top birders all time in Clark, Nevada. How many species have I seen on that list, from your perspective? I have two review species (AFCD and MUSW) on there right now, both with photos. If you see 223, then my two review ones aren't counted. If you see 225, then they are counted.

Edit: Actually, I see 224 because it doesn't have my FRGU from today, but it does count the other two. I'm #65 right now.

I see 224 species right now.

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Posted (edited)
8 minutes ago, Peromyscus said:

I see 224 species right now.

Then it definitely sounds like unconfirmed/extraordinary sightings do show up in the rankings.

I actually do wonder how many unscrupulous folks on eBird fudge their reports a bit. If others have reported a species, even if they haven't seen it themselves, they'll add it just to increase their numbers. Or fake vacations to see rarities.

Edited by Zoroark
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1 hour ago, Zoroark said:

Then it definitely sounds like unconfirmed/extraordinary sightings do show up in the rankings.

Oh interesting! Can’t trust anyone I guess then 😂

 

2 hours ago, Zoroark said:

TI actually do wonder how many unscrupulous folks on eBird fudge their reports a bit. If others have reported a species, even if they haven't seen it themselves, they'll add it just to increase their numbers. Or fake vacations to see rarities.

 

A few years ago I had a RTHU show up in my cabins yard for a few days that was rare for the province. Had one person (one of the 3 aforementioned people) report it the day after I last saw it. Yet, no one came to my yard that day. Which subsequently caused someone else to make a 4 1/2 hour drive and stand outside my gate (I had to head back home) for 2 hours, yet he never managed to see it. I honestly don’t think the 2nd person would have made the trip if it wasn’t reported again. But good on him not just saying it was there! The reviewer and I kind of laughed about it as of course _______ saw it, but she still had to confirm the sighting. 
 It is way too easy to submit a checklist for a place you’re not at, but doubt it’s a rampant problem, and even if it is, I’m sure it’s not too bad scientifically as at least the bird has been proven to actual exist there by other people. 
 

Not sure what the goal is as there’s no prize… Oh well 🤷🏻‍♂️

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19 hours ago, Zoroark said:

If others have reported a species, even if they haven't seen it themselves, they'll add it just to increase their numbers. Or fake vacations to see rarities.

WHAT???? I can see people going to chase a bird, getting there, getting a glimpse of something, and convincing themselves that's what they saw. Probably some who get there and clam they saw something they didn't, but just making up an entire list? 

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1 minute ago, Kevin said:

WHAT???? I can see people going to chase a bird, getting there, getting a glimpse of something, and convincing themselves that's what they saw. Probably some who get there and clam they saw something they didn't, but just making up an entire list? 

I think @Zoroarkmeant people pretend they went on a trip. For example, that’s like somebody in Alaska pretending to go to the spot where the Limpkin is right now in Missouri, and reporting it even though they didn’t see it. 
 

If that is true, that’s awful!!

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Something I have seen done, is someone report 0 of a species, it goes on the list just the same, but they never saw it, and they even admit they never saw it, but just the same eBird is counting it. 

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4 minutes ago, IKLland said:

I think @Zoroarkmeant people pretend they went on a trip. For example, that’s like somebody in Alaska pretending to go to the spot where the Limpkin is right now in Missouri, and reporting it even though they didn’t see it. 
 

If that is true, that’s awful!!

I understand what he is saying, and sadly, I believe it happening. The thought had just never came to my mind, it was shocking to my brain. 

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24 minutes ago, IKLland said:

I think @Zoroarkmeant people pretend they went on a trip. For example, that’s like somebody in Alaska pretending to go to the spot where the Limpkin is right now in Missouri, and reporting it even though they didn’t see it. 
 

If that is true, that’s awful!!

 

20 minutes ago, Kevin said:

I understand what he is saying, and sadly, I believe it happening. The thought had just never came to my mind, it was shocking to my brain. 

Yeah, I've seen a few "funny" lists in the year and a half since I joined eBird. On some occasions, I feel like they just entered the wrong date and haven't invented some teleportation technology. On others, I feel they are pumping up their stats. A handful of times, I've seen non-count lists where they enter 1 for everything instead of X.

Heck, on one occasion, I submitted a list to the wrong hotspot and only realized my mistake the next day. They were only a few miles apart, so nothing was flagged as rare.

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30 minutes ago, Kevin said:

I understand what he is saying, and sadly, I believe it happening. The thought had just never came to my mind, it was shocking to my brain. 

I suppose if this becomes rampant (and provable), eBird might have to start de-emphasizing the top 100s or even force anonymity onto all users, especially since the site prides itself on providing material for research. Hopefully faking lists and sightings isn't very prevalent if at all . . .

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The one thing I don’t understand is that if people are gonna fake something, or just tally up the birds as 1’s and so forth, why do they need to submit as a complete checklist… If they just said ‘incomplete’ their ranking and etc would still go up, but that checklist wouldn’t be included in any scientific study… But most bad checklists I’ve seen are always noted as complete. 
 

At least now with ebird mobile it proves that you were in fact where you said you were.
Though, I’m fairly certain the majority of ebirders do it correctly, and probably some of the bad stuff is just mistakes and unintentional. I know it took me a while to figure out how to properly do a checklist. 
 

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35 minutes ago, Aaron said:

If they just said ‘incomplete’ their ranking and etc would still go up, but that checklist wouldn’t be included in any scientific study… But most bad checklists I’ve seen are always noted as complete. 

That's another good point. I've seen people submit "complete" lists of just the highlights of a trip while leaving off the really common birds. It'd be nice if you could report a checklist and describe the issue (should be incomplete, life list building checklist, day list, etc.) to the reviewer.

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Posted (edited)

I must be the only guy here who doesn't regularly look at other birders' checklists.  I'll check out any for my favorite hot spot but there's only one other guy there regularly, I know him, and he's one of the top five in the state.  I'll check the list for the 'Last Saturday' walk at a local park when I didn't go with them.  I'll occasionally look at ones linked to here.  That's about it.  I don't see the appeal. 

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

I must be the only guy here who doesn't regularly look at other birders' checklists.  I'll check out any for my favorite hot spot but there's only one other guy there regularly, I know him, and he's one of the top five in the state.  I'll check the list for the 'Last Saturday' walk at a local park when I didn't go with them.  I'll occasionally look at ones linked to here.  That's about it.  I don't see the appeal. 

I sometimes check big lists to see what kinda mileage/duration people put into them, but for the most part I stick to the illustrated checklists and target species pages. 🙂

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Usually I look at other peoples lists when I’m searching for where certain species have been seen in the past, or am looking for what other people managed to see at a certain location at a certain date. And through that, I find a tick in an odd place, or hidden unconfirmed species within their checklists. 
I regularly ‘stalk’ hotspots that I plan on visiting to ensure that I know exactly what to expect, and to see if there’s any clues in the comments/photos of where they saw ____ species. Also find it good to compare peoples checklists with one another who were there on the same day, to further weed out misidentifications and paint a more accurate picture of what’s around. Cause if 4 different people report 10 godwits and no dowitchers, but one other person reports 10 dowitchers and no godwits, it tells me that I really shouldn’t expect to see dowitchers and that x person probably thought the godwits were dowitchers 🤷🏻‍♂️

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9 hours ago, Kevin said:

Something I have seen done, is someone report 0 of a species, it goes on the list just the same, but they never saw it, and they even admit they never saw it, but just the same eBird is counting it. 

The zero is an option to let others know bird was not seen.  It doesn’t count on any list.  I thought i read this was acceptable practice, but i see eBird officially says “don’t” do this.  

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12 hours ago, Kevin said:

Something I have seen done, is someone report 0 of a species, it goes on the list just the same, but they never saw it, and they even admit they never saw it, but just the same eBird is counting it. 

3 hours ago, chipperatl said:

The zero is an option to let others know bird was not seen.  It doesn’t count on any list.  I thought i read this was acceptable practice, but i see eBird officially says “don’t” do this.  

Okay, I don't understand this practice at all.  When I'm using eBird, there are hundreds more birds that I don't see than the dozens I do.  Do people enter a zero for all everything they don't see?  If not, how do they decide which ones get zeros and which ones don't?  Doesn't leaving the box empty indicate that species wasn't seen?

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3 hours ago, Charlie Spencer said:

Okay, I don't understand this practice at all.  When I'm using eBird, there are hundreds more birds that I don't see than the dozens I do.  Do people enter a zero for all everything they don't see?  If not, how do they decide which ones get zeros and which ones don't?  Doesn't leaving the box empty indicate that species wasn't seen?

I go look for the rare Black Tern that was in my county the other day, and I'm at its location at sunrise. I don't see it. I put a 0 for the number. That shows people who look at the rare bird report for that county, who may want to chase it, that it isn't there. Which means that they can arrive at their office on time, or go grocery shopping at their normal time, or watch birds in their local patch.

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