What is a Bird Records Committee?

It is a group composed of experienced ornithologists and birders who evaluate and validate records of birds that have not been documented in a country or a region.

bird_records_committe

A record is composed of information about a sighting and associated evidence intended to support the proposed identification of the species. Supporting evidence includes photographs, video, sound recordings, and a detailed narrative describing the sighting. The content of peer-reviewed publications about museum specimens also constitutes supporting evidence.

The work of a bird records committee helps maintain an updated official list of the birds of a country or region.

Peru’s Bird Records Committee

The Peruvian Bird Records Committee was established in the year 2008. The committee focuses on evaluating and validating records of species considered hypothetical for the country. The committee also reviews records of species new to Peru.

pied_water_tyrant_bird records committee
The Pied Water-Tyrant (Fluvicola pica), was identified as Case 2014-001. This species was approved to be included as a vagrant on the List of Birds of Peru. The votes were seven in favor and two abstentions.

What is a Hypothetical Species on the list of Birds of Peru?

A hypothetical species is one based on observations or specimens of dubious origin, unpublished photographs, or recordings and other material kept in private hands. Below is the list of bird considered hypothetical for Peru. Read more about a hypothetical species and a case study.

Functions of a Bird Records Committee

These include:
1) Collecting and organizing records submitted to the committee.
2) Reviewing and evaluating records.
3) Publishing reports of records and lists of reviewed species.
4) Preserving and providing access to the documentation associated with each record.
5) Establishing standards for submitting and reporting records.

guira cuckoo_avian report
The Guira Cuckoo (Guira guira) was not approved to be included in the List of Birds of Peru. Although the photographs left no doubt about the identity of the species, the lack of clarity in the report sent to the committee and the contradictions in the date of the observation and the photographs resulted in four votes in favor, two against and three abstentions. Photo: Bernard Dupont/Flickr-CC.

Evaluation of Records

For each record, committee members vote to either accept or reject such record based on the available evidence. If necessary, a vote is accompanied by a brief rationale used to arrive at a “yes” or “no” vote. Acceptance or rejection of a record is decided on the number of positive and negative votes on such record.

A vote by a committee member is accompanied by a proposed status of the species in the country. A species can be added to the official list of the country as:

Non-breeding species= One that occurs regularly in Peru, but only in its non-reproductive period.

Vagrant Species= One that occurs occasionally and unpredictably in Peru.

Introduced Species= One introduced in Peru or a species that have colonized the country after being introduced in other countries and have established a reproductive population in Peru.

galapagos petrel_avian report
The Galapagos Petrel (Pterodroma phaeopygia) identified as Case 2013-007 was given a change in status from a hypothetical species to a non-breeding visitor. The votes were nine in favor and 0 against.

More than 50 records have been submitted, reviewed, and discussed by the Peru Bird Records Committee. A total of 35 species were validated and added to the official country list.

Species that were not validated due to the poor supporting evidence available at the time remain on a waiting list until further evidence becomes available. The results of records reviewed are made available to the public every year, in a bulletin published by Peru’s Ornithologists Union, which are available at the following link: https://sites.google.com/site/boletinunop/home/download

white-throated crake
The White-throated Crake (Laterallus albigularis) was included as a new species for the list of Birds of Peru. This record was identified as Case 2015-003, which included photos and a report on the record. This species was approved as a vagrant species, although it may be a resident in wetlands in Tumbes.

How to submit a record for review by Peru’s Bird Records Committee?

If you find a bird included on the list of “hypothetical species to Peru” or one not known to occur in Peru, you should take photos, video, recordings, and take careful notes to document your sighting. Then, fill out a form and submit it, along with other available information, to the Records Committee Secretary. To download the complete form visit the Peru Bird Records Committee’s website.

form_bird_records_committee
This is an extract of the form used to report a new record to CRAP. 

The Secretary will post the record so that committee members can review it and vote on whether the species should be added or not to the official list of Birds of Peru.

In summary

The protocol followed to review and validate records of hypothetical and new species for the country ensures that each addition to the official list of Birds of Peru has been thoroughly examined. The evidence and details of the process followed is available for review by the public. A report for each species accepted and added to the official list is published at the end of a year in the bulletin published by Peru’s Ornithological Union.

The list of birds of Peru continues to grow. If you have photographic, video, or recording evidence of birds not previously known to occur in Peru or of those listed as hypothetical species, do not hesitate to submit that information to Peru’s Birds Records Committee and help increase the numbers of birds on the list of birds known to occur in the country.

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