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Preparing Effective Documentation

The documentation form includes a number of questions about the species, date, place, observers, field conditions, identification aids, observer experience, etc. to help ensure that details are not overlooked, but the most important part of the form is the sections on the back. There, the contributor describes the bird(s) and the characteristics observed.

First and foremost, it is important to make notes in the field, to write down characteristics observed and make sketches that will be useful when you write the description on the form. It is also important that the form be filled out as soon as possible after the observation, while your memory of it is fresh and clear. As time goes by, your memory is apt to be more and more influenced by other sources of information.

The chances of a record being accepted are greatly improved if one can obtain photographs or video or audio recordings and/or get additional persons to see the bird and also submit documentation.

In writing the description of the bird, you should relate what you saw in the field in such a way that someone who wasn't there can clearly imagine your encounter with this species. Describe the circumstances, give a description of the bird (in lieu of good photos, sketches can be very helpful), and finish off with a discussion. Be sure to mention which similar species you considered and how you eliminated them.


Species that should be documented

The N.B. Bird Records Committee has not yet established an official list of species that should be documented in New Brunswick. Documentation files are maintained for occurrences that are unusual because of exceptional location, season or number, for example, a species that is very rare here, a seabird not usually found inland, a very much out-of-season occurrence, or an unusually large concentration of birds. The following is offered as a general guide to very rare species.

Any species not on the New Brunswick bird list should be documented, as well as certain others listed below. To avoid confusion this list includes some species (in italics) that have been reported in the province but are not accepted on the New Brunswick list.

A = documentation essential
B = documentation desirable

Waterfowl: Fulvous Whistling-Duck, A; Greater White-fronted Goose, B; Ross's Goose, A; Barnacle Goose, A; Cackling Goose, A; Mute Swan, A; Tundra (Whistling) Swan, B; Whooper Swan, A; Cinnamon Teal, A; Garganey, A; Tufted Duck, A.

Loons & grebes: Pacific Loon, A; Eared Grebe, A; Western Grebe, A.

Tube-noses: Yellow-nosed Albatross A; Cory's Shearwater, A; Audubon's Shearwater, A.

Pelicans: American White Pelican, B; Brown Pelican, A.

Herons & allies: Little Egret, A; Tricolored Heron, B; Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, B; White Ibis, A; Wood Stork, A; Greater Flamingo, A.

Vultures: Black Vulture, B.

Hawks & allies: Swallow-tailed Kite, A; Swainson's Hawk, A; Crested Caracara, A; Eurasian Kestrel, A.

Rails & cranes: Clapper Rail, A; King Rail, A; Purple Gallinule, B; Sandhill Crane, B.

Shorebirds: Northern Lapwing, A; European (Greater) Golden-Plover, A; Wilson's Plover, A; American Oystercatcher, A; Black-necked Stilt, A; American Avocet, B; Eskimo Curlew, A; Long-billed Curlew, A; Black-tailed Godwit, A; Marbled Godwit, B; Western Sandpiper, B; Little Stint, A; Curlew Sandpiper, B; Ruff, B.

Jaegers, gulls & terns: Great Skua, A; South Polar Skua, A; Long-tailed Jaeger, A; Franklin's Gull, B; Mew Gull, A; California Gull, A; Thayer's Gull, A; Sabine's Gull, B; Ivory Gull, B; Gull-billed Tern, A; Royal Tern, A; Sandwich Tern, A; Roseate Tern, B (beyond Machias Seal I.); Forster's Tern, B; Least Tern, A; Sooty Tern, A; White-winged Tern, A; Black Skimmer, A.

Doves and parrots: Band-tailed Pigeon, A; White-winged Dove, B; Monk Parakeet, A.

Owls: Barn Owl, A; Eastern Screech-Owl, A; Burrowing Owl, A; Great Gray Owl, B.

Goatsuckers: Chuck-will's-widow, A.

Hummingbirds: Broad-billed Hummingbird, A; Black-chinned Hummingbird, A; Rufous Hummingbird, A.

Woodpeckers: Northern Flicker of the "Red-shafted" subspecies group, A.

Flycatchers: Acadian Flycatcher, A; Say's Phoebe, A; Vermilion Flycatcher, A; Ash-throated Flycatcher, A; Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher, A; Gray Kingbird, A; Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, B; Fork-tailed Flycatcher, A.

Shrikes & vireos: Loggerhead Shrike, B; White-eyed Vireo, A; Yellow-throated Vireo, B.

Corvids: Black-billed Magpie, A.

Swallows: Violet-green Swallow, A; Cave Swallow, A.

Titmice: Tufted Titmouse, A.

Wrens: Bewick's Wren, A; Sedge (Short-billed Marsh) Wren, B.

Thrushes: Northern Wheatear, B; Stonechat, A; Mountain Bluebird, A; Townsend's Solitaire, B; Gray-cheeked Thrush, B; Fieldfare, A; Redwing, A; Varied Thrush, B.

Mockers: Sage Thrasher, A.

Warblers: Golden-winged Warbler, B; Virginia's Warbler, A; Yellow-rumped Warbler of the "Audubon's" subspecies group, A; Black-throated Gray Warbler, A; Hermit Warbler, A; Yellow-throated Warbler, B; Cerulean Warbler, A; Prothonotary Warbler, A; Worm-eating Warbler, A; Louisiana Waterthrush, A; Kentucky Warbler, A; Connecticut Warbler, A; Hooded Warbler, A.

Tanagers: Western Tanager, A.

Towhees and sparrows: Green-tailed Towhee, A; Spotted Towhee, A; Lark Bunting, A; Grasshopper Sparrow, B; Henslow's Sparrow, A; Le Conte's Sparrow, A; Seaside Sparrow, A; Harris's Sparrow, A; Golden-crowned Sparrow, A; Dark-eyed Junco of the "Oregon," "Pink-sided" and "White-winged" races, A; Chestnut-collared Longspur, A.

Cardinals & allies: Black-headed Grosbeak, A; Painted Bunting, A.

Icterids: Western Meadowlark, A; Brewer's Blackbird, A; Shiny Cowbird, A; Bullock's Oriole, A.

Finches: Common Chafinch, A; European Greenfinch, A; Eurasian Siskin, A; European Goldfinch, A; Hoary Redpoll, B.

Back to N.B. Bird Records Committee

3 Apr 2005