Frequently Asked Questions About Reporting Your Sightings

chestnut-sidedBelow are some of the most frequently asked questions from birders who are reporting sightings to eBird.

We hope these FAQ’s answer your questions. If not please send us an e-mail at birdrecords@nhaudubon.org.


What if I only hear the bird and don’t see it? If you are positive of the identification of the bird song, it can be reported by sound alone. There are many helpful bird song tools available to enable you to learn to identify birds by ear. You can listen to bird songs on your computer via CD’s or the web. Check out this website www.whatbird.com.


How do I know if something is a rarity that needs special documentation? If the bird has never been seen in New Hampshire before or is seen only occasionally in the state, it will need special documentation. The New Hampshire Rare Birds Committee has established a list of rare species that require additional documentation and review. Species that are out of place or common species that are seen at the “wrong” time of the year, such as an Ovenbird in January, should also be documented. For more specific guidelines on what constitutes a rare bird go to What is a Rare Bird.


What should I do to document a rare bird? If you think you saw a bird that is considered a rarity be sure to take detailed notes and/or sketches of plumage and any markings that distinguish it from the more common species. Best of all, take photos if you can. As soon as possible fill out the documentation forms with all the details. The form and more information on how to document a rare bird can be found at How to Document a Rarity and Documentation Forms.


How come my sightings aren’t published? Space is the primary issue, there simply is not enough space to publish each sighting. Each season editor must must review more than 10,000 reports and select those which he/she feels represents the overall picture of the season. Editors tend to pick records that reflect the earliest arrivals, late arrivals, high counts, unusual species or an unusual location.


What do we do with the data? All reports are entered into eBird. All data is reviewed by the season editor and rare sightings are reviewed by the NH Rare Birds Committee. There are many bird conservation projects that utilize the data such as the state’s Wildlife Action Plan and the Important Bird Areas project.


Do I have to enter my sightings through the NH eBird portal? No, you can enter them through any eBird site, but it will be quickest through NH eBird since it’s set up for New Hampshire species.


If I report my sightings to NH.Birds will they also go to New Hampshire Bird Records? NO. Although New Hampshire Bird Records (NHBR) will be alert for unusual reports on NH.Birds, we depend on birders to submit appropriate reports to NHBR with necessary documentation for rarities. NHBR needs specific information in a format that allows for easy computerization. This makes the records valuable for bird conservation now and in the future. Rarities need further details and/or photos accompanying the report. In addition, you will not necessarily want to send NHBR all the reports that you post to NH.Birds. We encourage reporters to submit those sightings of greatest significance.