Review Process for Rarities
The New Hampshire Rare Birds Committee (NHRBC) is an independent Technical Advisory Committee to New Hampshire Bird Records (NHBR). The NHRBC sets guidelines which NHBR follows when requesting documentation, and if a sighting you submit meets these guidelines, expect a documentation form to arrive in the mail or by e-mail. Please fill out this form carefully, since it becomes part of a permanent record and may be scrutinized in the future.
Once documentation forms are received at NHBR the appropriate season editor creates a list for the NHRBC to determine which reports require review. For many of the less notable rarities (early or late records, common “hard-to-identify” species, etc.), full NHBRC review may not be necessary. All rarities requiring review are distributed to the NHRBC, which evaluates the documentation and votes on whether the sighting should enter the permanent record. The timing of the NHRBC review may or may not occur before the publication of those records in NHBR.
The NHRBC has a protocol and by-laws governing its operation which is entirely separate from NHBR. Members of the NHRBC are the only ones who can provide information regarding decisions on individual sightings. The NHRBC would like birders to know that the review process applies to all observers. Even the committee members themselves have to follow this process, and in some cases have even had their records not accepted by the whole committee. Also note that records that are not accepted are not discarded. In some cases, new information on a sighting can come to light, and the NHRBC may opt to reconsider it. If you are distressed by the review process, they suggest trying to view it as a learning experience and a way to increase the value of the state’s bird sighting data, not as a personal statement or an odious chore imposed upon you by elite birders. Quality control is the only way we can ensure that these records remain valuable well into the future.