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eBird “continuing” and “photos available”

11:51 am

As an eBird reviewer, I was going to make a couple pleas, and then, lo and behold, similar concerns have just now been raised on the northbaybirds listserv. But here they are:

–Simply putting the term “continuing” in one’s comments for a rarity IS actually quite helpful to reviewers, so they then don’t have to wonder if this might be a new individual or a known stakeout. BUT, including that information alone may well not be enough. Now that we are engulfed in our annual suite of winter rarities that lots of folks are chasing, most such birds get reported every day or two, so simply including “continuing,” while potentially fraught with issues, does not cause too much angst among most reviewers because we are “only adding a day or two to a known date-span.” But another BUT, as the winter goes on and these birds get reported less and less, the gaps between sightings get longer and longer, and so extending the date-span based solely on “continuing” may be adding a week, or two weeks, or a month–and then this does cause reviewers more concern! It is also a sad fact that a number of reports of “continuing” rarities are questionable or even include photos that are misidentified. So not all simply “continuing” birds are correct. The very helpful addition of photos brings up my second plea:
–Please DO NOT put in one’s comments “photos” and then not include said photo(s)! We reviewers will happily wait until the end of the day or the next day for an observer to get home and actually add the photos to their submission, but if it is going to be much longer than that–such as you are on the road on an extended trip–then please add something like “photos, but on the road and won’t add for a week.” That way, the reviewers can just let the report sit in the review queue until the photos indeed arrive. The absolutely worst thing an observer can write in their comments, and it gets the hair to stand up on my neck when I read it, is “photos available on request.” If you have photos, please attach them, and don’t make all the over-worked reviewers spend un-needed time contacting you for existing photos. Please!
Paul Lehman, San Diego