Guidelines for assessing records descriptions
1. A description should describe the circumstances of the claim, including dates, observers, optics, light conditions and distance from bird. It should include at least one key feature, preferably more, of the species claimed. Supporting plumage, jizz and vocal details, together with sketches and/or photographs should be included. Experience of the claimed and similar species should also be described.
2. Claims based solely/mainly on identification by call or song should be supported with a description of the call or song. Ideally, the bird should have been heard more than once and also, ideally, should have been seen at least well enough to eliminate anything else that may have been making the sound heard.
3. The description should contain sufficient detail to eliminate common or confusion species, including eliminating possible hybrids. It should also contain sufficient detail to support age and sex determination.
4. Claims based solely on unambiguous photographs can be accepted, provided the committee is satisfied with the provenance of the photograph.
5. Committee members should not make assumptions about things not included in the description.
6. While the experience and reliability of the observer is a factor in evaluating a claim, the description needs to be of a standard where someone who does not know the observer would consider that it is far more likely that the claim is correct than that it is not. The level of certainty will depend upon factors such as the rarity of the species claimed.
7. Acceptance of records is based upon the votes of the 5 committee members. Committee members can pend a claim if they have questions about the description, require more information or would value a discussion with their fellow committee members. In the first round of voting, members do not see other members' decisions and comments until after they have voted.
8. A claim may be accepted or rejected as follows:
4:1 accepted, unless the committee secretary decides, on the basis of comments received, to pend it.
3:2 or 2:3 pended
1:4 rejected, unless the committee secretary decides, on the basis of comments received to pend it.
Pended claims are discussed by email or at a committee meeting. Following a discussion of a pended claim, the record should be recirculated by the committee secretary with comments from the first circulation attached. The committee members should make a firm decision after the second circulation, unless further information becomes available. If the decision is still not at least 4:1 after the final circulation, the claim is rejected.
9. For claims submitted by committee members, the secretary, in consultation with the county recorder and other committee members, will decide how to resolve them, which may well involve co-opting another person to give an opinion, which includes the possibility of a casting vote by the secretary.
10. Committee members' comments about reasons for acceptance or rejection should be filed with the description by the secretary. Decisions are published in the club Annual Report.