Saturday, April 6, 2013

WTF eBird?!?!

Ok, I can’t let things go, I know that about myself, and this whole eBird thing is bugging me. I mean I absolutely saw a Marsh Wren and did the right thing and reported it in my list of birds for that day to eBird, but they just casually dismissed that sighting without even inquiring simply because it was a ‘rare’ sighting. Right? Was there some other reason?

At first I thought it was because I didn’t include a picture (I don’t usually go birding with a camera, and when I do my camera is pretty crappy), but that isn’t true at all. Sure, you can look at the bird alert listings for each county and see some with pictures, but many of them do not have pictures and are still confirmed. When I saw a Red Headed Woodpecker earlier that was listed as a rare sighting, I didn’t take a picture and it was accepted.

I wasn’t denied because of the lack of picture.

Maybe a Marsh Wren sighting is so rare that they just had to discount it? To see, I pulled up the eBird map of the Heinz refuge with a search for Marsh Wrens inall years in January-March.

Ok, there are only a couple of sightings over the years, so it is rather rare….WAIT A MINUTE, THERE WAS A SIGHTING THERE ALREADY THIS YEAR! So, someone sees one earlier in the year and they say “ok, that is fine” and I see one and they say “nope, no you didn’t”? Hey, the guy didn’t even have a picture. What the hell?

Hey, maybe this guy knows better than me, let’s look at his list!

Hey, there is the wren identification; no picture and just a short description that wasn’t any more informative than mine. But somehow it was more credible than mine? He also has some others. Palm Warbler? Neat. Rusty Blackbirds are common in the area (I even saw them!). Five different sparrows (I only got four when I went there). Maybe he might know his birds.

Lots of ducks too.

Only 29 Northern Shovelers. That is interesting because I can’t help but see at least 100 every time I look out on the pond (it gets old looking at them), but it is much warmer now and the ducks are a bit different. For example, I haven’t seen any Ruddy Ducks there, but he saw 206.

What, huh? 206? Exactly? Seriously? Yeah, he makes sure to put on his sheet that these are an ‘exact count’ of the birds. EXACT COUNT!


Why would someone do that? Are they that super confident in their ability not to accidentally double count birds within a huge flock? Are they that super confident of the exact identification of every single bird in that flock of 206? Really, there is absolutely no way this is an exact count. He could have just as easily said “30” or “200” (significant figures!) but he had to impress upon people that he was such an authority that he knew the EXACT NUMBER of birds that like to be near each other while moving around.

Oh, wait, it gets better. 166 Mallards (exact!) and 30 Black Ducks (exact!). Now, this one is totally, absolutely impossible to be exact. Hey, have you seen females of those two species? They look the exact same (which is because they really are the same species). But this guy is such an authority that he knew the exact number of each!

So this guy is more credible than me?

When I look at a bird count like his, I immediately think “this guy is too confident in things that are almost impossible to be confident in” and it makes me skeptical. But when the person in charge of eBird rare sightings for Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania sees his bird count, they immediately think “yeah, he must have seen a Marsh Wren!” But when they see my listing later, they think “his Damon guy certainly did not see a Marsh Wren there.”

Despite me actually seeing it.

Despite me describing it.

Despite someone else having seen one earlier in the year.

Despite them ‘confirming’ he saw it earlier.

Despite not even bother to check with me.

What a bunch of assholes.

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