Saturday, February 1, 2014

Nitpicking the 2012 OBRC report in Ontario Birds

After my time as "chair" of said committee, I assume it would only be appropriate to then complain about the final product we produced for 2012 bird observations... Although overall, I just wanted to comment on a few things.

(If you'd like to read it, and you're an OFO member - you can read it online here):

If not, you're out of luck for now...

To start - I enjoyed the typically bland "opening remarks". It's still very very similar to past years, but if you look carefully you'll notice some changes in the wording.... Records that aren't "accepted" are deemed "insufficient evidence"... If your report isnt' accepted, you can request to see the comments - instead of them being outright mailed to you. Now you'll just received a complete summary of the decision in your letter from the Chair.

(side note: I did have to write some letters this year, and it's NOT fun at all)

Another big change in the wording is that any previously rejected/accepted record may be RE-REVIEWED if NEW and SUBSTANTIAL evidence is presented. Formerly, that read "new and substantial documentary evidence" .. Or something like that... Anyways - it's a big difference.

Those are all thanks to the policy meeting last winter - thanks to all the comments and help we received!

Onto the birds! -

The Cinnamon Teal record - it makes no mention of the fact that this bird was BANDED! But no one could read the band! (Old/worn). Crazy!

Harlequin Duck and Eared Grebe - let's remove these bad boys from the review list for the North already! (just my point of view).

Northern Fulmar - ?

Wilson's Storm-Petrel... It is OBRC policy to underline (credit) the "finders"- and people who are "finders" - include whoever was around when the bird was first spotted. So why am I bringing this up? Well it's terrible! My name gets underlined (because I was in the same general area as Rob Dobos when he found it - not that I could even see him) - whereas someone who could easily be given credit as a finder (Bob Curry) who was simply standing at a slightly different vantage point (Lakeland vs Hutches) - and was prominent in identifying the bird - gets no credit?!  Terrible policy.. Needs to be updated!

Magnificent Frigatebird - see above. The people who "found" and reported the bird widely are not credited as such, due to the fact that someone else said they saw it a day or two earlier somewhere else (or something along those lines). Terrible! They should also have their names underlined. (In my opinion) - but there would need to be a POLICY change to make it happen (easier said than done).

Glossy Ibis - I kinda wish this wasnt' a review species... It meets the guidelines as a review bird - but only because there are so many "plegadis ibis" records not identified to species. If we removed Glossy, we would also remove "plegadis" reports - meaning only White-faced would need to be written up! (Maybe I'm just lazy). As of right now, its 60+ accepted Glossy, 60+ accepted "plegadis" and 14ish accepted White-faced.

Storm-Petrel species and "European" Whimbrel... --- this is a beef with the comments. They're standard OBRC comments - but they don't properly tell the picture.

The Whim states -

The Storm-Petrel (mine) states -

I DO NOT LIKE the photo layout - I DO NOT like it in the yard, I DO NOT like it in the car! (Green eggs and ham anyone?)

But seriously. The report was BAD in 2008 - see here:

I believe it was Mr. Wormington who (a few years ago at an OBRC meeting) raised the idea that this is a scientific REPORT - not an art project. The 2008 report had photos slapped all over the place in different ways/sizes/shapes etc....

The 2012 report is a lot better, but I would be even happier if we could simply have photos that stretch from one side of the page to the other, all with the same borders (eg,/ not with white borders, or touching the edges of the pages - all at random). Just my 2 cents on that!


Another photo beef that is really minor - is that the photo of the rare bird should not appear until AFTER the text appears for the record. It's pretty minor I know, but I'd like a change. An example of that is on page 66 (or 9) of the 2009 report:

BAM! Snowy Plover?! Where did that come from? Oh, there's the text....


If I were to go really crazy with layout issues, I also felt like the text wasn't balanced (or properly placed?) in some ways... Check out the Ross's Gull text -


Finally, I just want to say I don't like the Rufous Hummingbird photo....


With all that said and done - I find myself writing the report for 2013! Therefore, I will have to bash my own performance at some point in the future...

Are you happy with the OBRC these days? Happier than before? Less pleased than ever?


  1. Yes, I'm happy with the OBRC these days and I'm grateful to all of the knowledgeable birder types - all volunteers - who have contributed to past reviews and reports. I'm happy with the way the annual report format is evolving and I'm pleased to see that the accepted records can be now viewed, by anyone, in eBird (thanks for that Mike). I also support the publication of past annual reports on the OFO site. The most recent annual report available is 2009 so perhaps it's time to add 2010 & 2011.

    Lastly, I'm not aware of a a BRC elsewhere in Canada that works harder or produces a more rigourous and timely report than the OBRC.

    Thanks and keep the great work.