Regulations Governing the Operation of Bird Records Committees

Adopted August 2012; amended March 2015

PREAMBLE: There shall be Bird Records Committees for both North Carolina and South Carolina that operate as committees of the Carolina Bird Club (hereafter CBC). These committees are separate entities that shall operate according to the following set of guidelines.

  1. COMMITTEE COMPOSITION AND QUALIFICATIONS: Each Records Committee shall include a voting Chair and either six or eight voting members for a total of either seven or nine voting members. At his or her discretion, The Chair may maintain up to two non-voting Advisory seats on the Committee. These Advisory positions shall be filled by current CBC members with a long history of service to the CBC and Records Committee(s). Advisory positions are permanent positions, however nothing shall prevent a person in an Advisory position from returning to the Committee as a voting member subject to term limits and provisions put forth under Article II below. Advisors shall be eligible to participate in discussions, provide input on prospective committee members, provide historical perspective on the avifauna of the Carolinas, and otherwise provide support to the Chair as requested. All Committee members must be members of the CBC, may not simultaneously serve on any other Records Committee or similar group which might constitute a conflict of interest and must meet the following four qualifications (A-D):
    1. active birder competent in field identification.
    2. interest and knowledge in the Committee's State bird list.
    3. field experience outside Southeast United States.
    4. meet at least two of the following:
      1. expertise in bird distribution from a geographic region of the State on which committee the member will serve.
      2. identification expertise in two or more taxonomic orders of birds that occur in the southeastern United States.
      3. made recent contributions to literature about ornithology from the Carolinas.
      4. more than casual field experience with at least 90% of species recorded from the State on which committee the member will serve (experience may come from outside that State).
  2. TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF OFFICE:
    1. The term of office for all Records Committee members shall be three years. For the North Carolina Bird Records Committee positions, a break in service of one year shall be taken after the expiration of each term. All members are eligible to serve another three-year term after the one-year break has been satisfied. For the South Carolina Bird Records Committee positions, there shall be no mandatory one year break in service after completion of terms of service. The total number of terms that any person can serve on both state's Committee is unlimited. Terms will run concurrent with the calendar year, commencing on January 1 and ending on December 31.
    2. The term of office for the Chair of each committee shall be one year. The Chair will be eligible to serve successive terms in that capacity until his or her term of service to the Records Committee expires. Each year the Chair shall solicit nominations from within the Committee no later than the Fall CBC meeting for persons to fill the Chair for the next calendar year. Should more than one candidate receive nomination the Chair shall oversee an election among the voting members of the Committee.
    3. Each year, the Chair shall appoint a nominating committee composed of two current committee members, voting or otherwise, no later than the Fall Meeting of the Carolina Bird Club. This committee shall be tasked with furnishing the Chair a slate of eligible potential members to make up the incoming class that will be seated January 1 of the following calendar year. Nothing in this policy prevents the nominating committee from soliciting input from the other committee members in this process. The Chair will then provide the slate of prospective committee members for the upcoming year to the CBC President, who in turn shall present the slate to the CBC Executive committee as a whole.
  3. COMMITTEE FUNCTION:

    The role of each Records Committee is to judge the validity of reports of rare and/or unusual birds from that State (Reports of Significance) and to maintain respective State bird lists.

  4. REPORTS OF SIGNIFICANCE:
    1. A Report of Significance is defined as:
      1. A report of any previously unrecorded species or select distinctive subspecies which in the future may be reasonably afforded full species status (hereafter "recognized subspecies") of bird from the State in which it occurred.
      2. Any report which would elevate a species or recognized subspecies from a lower category of acceptance to a higher one on the list acceptance hierarchy (Section V).
      3. A report of any species or recognized subspecies for which there are 10 or fewer records for the season including breeding records or geographic region in which it occurred. The term "geographic region" is not limited in definition but implies a continuous distinctive tract of land or habitat that is measured on the order of square miles and has established or definable boundaries (including but not limited to Coast, Coastal Plain, Piedmont, Mountains, etc.).
      4. Within the scope of these guidelines the Committee Chair is granted flexibility to determine of what constitutes a Report of Significance.
    2. Reports of Significance may be received as:
      1. Unpublished reports that are documented on Records Committee approved Rare Bird Report forms made available by the Chair, or by other Committee-acceptable format.
      2. Unpublished physical evidence (e.g., specimen, photograph) provided that such evidence is made available to all Records Committee members in an appropriate setting.
      3. Published descriptions in a refereed journal provided that a thorough description of the bird's distinguishing field marks are published, regardless of the availability of unpublished evidence such as a photograph, sound recording or specimen.
    3. Reports of birds, whether published or not, that lack documentation and/or are where such documentation is not made available to the Records Committee are not Reports of Significance. As such, they cannot be considered records and until such time as the necessary documentation is available, are unaccepted sightings (US; see Section V,D).
  5. LIST CATEGORIES:

    Reported species or recognized subspecies may be grouped into one of three lists of acceptance or one of two categories of non-acceptance:

    1. Definitive List (Acceptance):
      1. A native species or recognized native subspecies documented by an appropriately archived voucher specimen.
      2. A native species or recognized native subspecies documented by an unambiguous photograph, voice recording, video tape or other physical evidence that is published in a refereed journal and/or similarly archived as is a voucher specimen, or both.
      3. A special case in which a native taxon is documented (and archived as above) at the genus level but is indistinguishable at the species level on the physical evidence available, provided that none of the contenders is already on the Definitive List. The taxon with the possible contenders is then listed as (for example) "Genus name (sp?), contender1/contender2/ ... " in alphabetical order, followed by "probably contender x" where appropriate.
      4. A native species or recognized native subspecies (including "special cases" as above) documented by not fewer than three separate occurrences reported by three or more different observers. The term "documented" implies a written description of the bird including pertinent identification marks. It is preferable that acceptance to the Definitive List be based on some form of physical documentation. However, a committee by majority vote may elect to elevate a species to the Definitive List without physical documentation under the condition that the documentation be based on not fewer than three separate occurrences reported by three or more different observers.
      5. A species or recognized subspecies from a non-native, feral or exotic population that is self-sustaining or expanding for a period of 10 or more years.
      6. A species or recognized subspecies from an officially sanctioned species reintroduction program whose population has been self-sustaining or expanding for a period of 10 or more years.
    2. Provisional List (Acceptance):
      1. Any species that has been accepted by fewer than three separate reports or by any number of reports made by three separate observers, where no other physical evidence (e.g., specimen, photograph, etc.) exists.
      2. Any report of a bird for which the identification at the species level is uncertain but suspected AND identification at a higher taxonomic level (e.g., genus) is known (see Section V,A,3), provided that:
        1. no other members of that known taxonomic level are on the Definitive State List
        2. all other members at that known taxonomic level have been eliminated as possible contenders
    3. Not Established List (Acceptance):
      1. A species or recognized subspecies judged by the Records Committee to be correctly identified but also judged to be:
        1. from a non-native, feral or exotic population that is self-sustaining or expanding for a period of not more than 10 years regardless of the location where that population breeds.
        2. affiliated with an officially sanctioned species reintroduction program that has not been self-sustaining or expanding for a period of 10 years.
    4. Questionable Origin (Non-acceptance):
      1. Any report of a bird judged by the Records Committee to be correctly identified but also judged to be:
        1. escaped from captivity or introduced not in conjunction with an officially sanctioned species reintroduction program.
        2. not from the state in which it was reported.

          NOTE: Cases where individual birds elect on their own to rely in part on human activity for transport into the state may be deemed of wild origin. For example, a bird that temporarily hitches a ride on a ship and is not held against its will may be considered wild but not if most of its journey was on the ship. The interpretation of what constitutes "too much" assistance is left to the discretion of each Committee Member voting with majority decision ruling.

    5. Unaccepted Sighting (Non-acceptance):
      1. a report that is considered a likely misidentification by vote of the Records Committee.
      2. a published report that would otherwise constitute a Report of Significance for which published details and documentation are judged to be either insufficient for acceptance, regardless of the possibility of accurate identification or a likely misidentification.
  6. VOTING PROCEDURE:
    1. The Chair shall solicit and/or receive all reports on Sightings of Significance. Once a report is submitted, it must be processed to completion. The submitted report shall be the only evidence on which a decision may be made unless substantiating physical evidence such as a photograph or specimen is known and made available to all Records Committee members.
    2. The Chair will mail or otherwise deliver to each member, copies of reports submitted for consideration along with other physical evidence or expert opinion to be considered and request a response in the form of a vote for one of six voting categories corresponding to one of three groups on a voting hierarchy.
      1. Acceptance group:
        1. "AV": Accepted as Valid; the reported identification is judged to be accurate and the bird of wild origin.
        2. "NE": The identification is accepted as valid but the bird is judged to be introduced (as defined in Section V, C, 1).
      2. Non-acceptance group
        1. "QO": The bird is correctly identified but is of Questionable Origin (as defined in Section V, D)
        2. "US": Rejected as an Unaccepted Sighting.
          1. the bird is judged to be a species other than that reported.
          2. the bird cannot be reasonably demonstrated to be the species reported.
        3. "ID": Rejected as Inadequately Documented to be considered as a valid record.
      3. Abstained group
        1. "AB": Abstained on the basis of insufficient experience and/or knowledge to judge the report. A vote of "AB is neither a vote of acceptance or non-acceptance except that it counts as a non-accept vote for determining if a report must be submitted to outside review (see Section XI, B).
  7. RESOURCE LIMITATIONS:

    Records Committee members may use any resource at their disposal to reach a decision but should avoid any private communication with other Committee Members regarding a record under consideration. Discussion among Committee Members is permissible when:

    1. such discussion is factually based and equally provided to all members through an established format.
    2. a member has specific knowledge, expertise or other relevant information which may be of value to all Committee Members.
    3. such discussion is offered without a personal agenda or individual bias whose primary intention is to influence the voting for purposes other than accurate determination of the report's accuracy.
  8. DEADLINES:
    1. At least once each year, the Chair shall assemble a voting packet including all reports and supporting materials to be considered, and deliver those to the Committee Members for their vote. A time deadline for the return of all votes shall be established by the Chair but shall not exceed four weeks from the date the voting packet was delivered. Committee Members may cast their vote at any time during this period and may change or amend their votes up to the stated deadline. After the deadline, members may not change their votes and any vote not received shall be counted as AB. Committee Members who fail to vote may at the discretion of the Chair, forfeit their right to participate in future deliberation or voting on that particular report. Any Member who misses two consecutive or three of five consecutive votes, shall be removed from the Committee.
    2. Upon special request from the Editor of The Chat, any report that has been submitted to both the Records Committee and for possible publication, shall be granted expedited review by the Committee.
  9. CLASSES OF REPORTS:
    1. A Class A Report is defined as an original rare bird report received for the first time with all supporting evidence provided by the reporting observer(s).
    2. A Class B Report is defined as a report that is published prior to the Committee's evaluation.
    3. A Class C Report is defined as a report which is either:
      1. resubmitted to the Committee by the reporting observer(s) following a vote in which the report was not accepted.
      2. resubmitted following outside review by vote of the Committee, provided that the reviewers' comments are informative and made available to Committee members at the time of resubmission.
      3. sent to outside reviewers by the Chair, prior to consideration by the Committee. The reviewer's comments and the original report shall then be submitted together to Committee members for their evaluation.
  10. BALLOTING:

    Unless specifically requested by a Committee member and agreed upon by a majority of the Committee, no report shall be voted on more than twice.

    1. For Class A Reports, all categories on the voting hierarchy (see VII, B) are operative.
    2. For Class B Reports, AB votes are automatically scored as ID.
    3. For Class C Reports, AB and ID votes are automatically scored as US.
  11. TABULATION OF VOTES:

    It shall be the responsibility of the Chair of each Records Committee to tally the votes for each report and notify the Committee members of the outcome within four weeks of the voting deadline.

    1. Any report (Class A, B or C) which receives a majority of acceptance votes (AV or NE) in any combination AND fewer than two non-acceptance votes (QO, US, ID and/or AB) in any combination is accepted at the voting category (AV or NE) that receives the greater number of votes. Should both receive equal votes, the report shall be accepted as NE.
    2. A report which receives a majority of acceptance votes (AV or NE) but also receives two or more non-acceptance votes (QO, US or ID) and/or two or more AB votes in any combination shall:
      1. if either a Class A or a Class B Report, be sent for outside review to not fewer than two independent reviewers not directly involved with the report.
      2. if a Class C Report, be accepted at the voting hierarchy (AV or NE) which receives the greater number of votes. Should both accept categories receive equal votes, the report is accepted as NE.
    3. Any Class A, B or C report which receives a majority of non-acceptance votes (QO, US, ID, and/or for Class C reports only, AB) in any combination is not accepted and required no further action.
    4. Any Class C Report which receives a majority of AB votes or where the sum of AB votes and all other non-acceptance votes (QO, ID, US) collectively constitutes a majority, the report is not accepted and requires no further action.
    5. Any Class A Report that the Chair feels is insufficiently documented to be judged may be returned to the original observer for additional information before being distributed to the Committee.
    6. Any Class A Report that does not constitute a Report of Significance or that it is a blatantly obvious misidentification, may be administratively dismissed by the Chair without Committee circulation.
    7. Any Class A report that is submitted and subsequently rejected may be resubmitted as a Class C Report under the following conditions:
      1. If rejected as QO or US, the resubmitted report must include previously unavailable physical evidence (such as a specimen, photograph, etc.) and/or a written description by a corroborating observer not involved in the original report.
      2. If rejected as ID, the resubmitted report may include any previously unavailable physical evidence and/or corroborating details by either the original observer(s) or other observer(s). However, the reporting observer(s) MUST provide any evidence specifically requested by the committee in order for it to be reconsidered.
      3. If a different party INDEPENDENTLY provides documentation of the bird(s) in question, that report shall be treated as a Class A Report and shall be judged independently on its own merits. Unless that party and the original reporting observer(s) were together at the time of the sighting, acceptance of the second report has no effect on acceptance of the first report.
  12. COMMITTEE MEETINGS:

    The Records Committee may meet as frequently as deemed necessary by the Chair or by majority request of the members but must meet at least once each year. Meetings of the Records Committee are open to any interested persons. Guests may participate in open discussions as appropriate. Voting at the meetings is limited to Records Committee members and any duly designated proxy of an absent Committee member.

  13. ANNUAL REPORT:

    An annual report of the Records Committee shall be published in The Chat. Each Committee Chair must submit an annual report before March 1 of the following year. The precise format is at the discretion of the Chair and The Chat editor but must include the following:

    1. A complete listing of reports reviewed and the judgment of the Committee for each.
    2. Rationale for the Committee's decision for each report reviewed and/or its assignment to the List Category (Section VI) for that State.
    3. For non-accepted report(s), the annual report shall not list the name(s) of the observer(s), nor the precise location and dates of the sighting(s).
  14. LIMITATIONS OF JURISDICTION:
    1. Records Committees are free to evaluate any report of a bird from its respective State, whether unpublished, previously published, pending publication or submitted for publication.
    2. In the event that a report is simultaneously submitted to the Records Committee for evaluation and for publication in the The Chat, the Records Committee Chair must notify the Editor:
      1. that the Records Committee has received the same report for review.
      2. of the final decision of the Records Committee.
      3. that the description(s) in a version of the report seen by the Records Committee is discrepant with the version of submitted for publication, particularly where such differences might significantly affect the appropriateness of the article for publication.
    3. In the event that a report is published in The Chat but rejected by the records Committee, regardless of the order in which those events occurred, the decision of the Records Committee shall carry precedence and a corrigenda shall be published in The Chat.
    4. Should the Editor of The Chat receive a report submitted for publication prior to Records Committee acceptance, the Editor may request the Committee Chair to expedite Committee review. In such circumstances, the Chair will as soon as possible, circulate the report and set a voting deadline not more than four weeks hence.