Date of this Version
"Fall Field Report and Species Accounts," from Nebraska Bird Review (December 2002) 70(4).
A few words on documentation of sightings reported is in order. I receive many reports each season of rare or hard-to-identify birds. If they fit a pattern that has developed over the years (see "Birds of Nebraska"), I tend to accept them as correct. However, if they fall outside the range of prior reports, I usually email the observer and ask for some details about the identification and circumstances of the sighting. Everyone has been very nice about this process; observers sometimes take these requests as a questioning of their ability, but I haven't run into this problem with Nebraska birders. Thus, when I report sightings in the Seasonal Reports, I believe readers can be reasonably sure that what I report actually happened. It is interesting that often the observer will let me know when I ask that the species reported was an error and another species was intended to be reported. Better to correct these types of reporting errors before publication!
An area where I have trouble is the NOU meeting reports. These are generally a list of species with no comments or observer names, thus precluding contact with the anonymous observer(s). Over the years there have been many rarities and other interesting sightings buried in these lists that cannot be traced and thus are lost to the record. I urge compilers/reporters of these lists to mark the "sign-in" lists of species set out at the meetings so that observers know which species are unexpected and should have details for substantiation. I've had to eliminate or cast doubt on many such reports because of a complete lack of any knowledge about the sighting; this Fall Seasonal Report is a good example (of course if I would attend all the meetings, I could ask around; let's hear it for retirement!)