- The Committee is autonomous but operates with logistical support from the Vermont Center for Ecostudies.
- There shall be a minimum of 8 members. Invitation to membership is by Committee consensus from suggested candidates. There are no term limits.
- Committee Chair/Co-chairs shall be selected by the Committee membership. The Chair/Co-chairs shall serve a 4 year term. A successor should be in place during the fourth year. The chair prepares the annual meeting agenda which will include assigning Rare Species Documentation (RSDs) among Committee members for discussion and runs the meeting.
- A Secretary shall be selected from the membership to take minutes.
- A quorum shall constitute 75% of the members present.
- Sub-committees may be formed as needed.
- A Data Manager/s shall be selected by the membership who: monitors RSDs and posts for members to review, archives RSDs annually, updates website, posts minutes, and reports, maintains the database of RSD’s submitted since 1980, and maintains the Vermont Bird Checklist.
- Meets annually to review RSD submissions.
- Updates the Vermont Bird Checklist which includes reviewing and changing arrival and departure dates of species based on Vermont eBird data.
- Adds and removes species requiring RSDs. Submitted RSDs are compiled in the VBRC database. Generally, species do not require an RSD after 10 records have been received. The status of species requiring an RSD is reviewed annually.
- Keeps minutes of all meetings – paper (where applicable) and electronic format.
- Keeps paper (where applicable) and electronic formats of all RSD records.
- Prepares an Annual Report.
- Oversees website content.
How are Rare Species Documentation Reports Generated?
- eBird: Since launching by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society in 2002, eBird has become a vital tool for collecting data on bird sightings. It is an online international checklist program used to submit reports and access information about birds. As a public tool Vermont eBird is being used by the VBRC to incorporate local information about the status of a species at a specific location or during a specific time, to update the Checklist particularly as related to arrival and departure dates, etc.
- From bird reports submitted to Vermont eBird: Some species filters are set to prompt comments such as a difficult identification, unusual (out-of-range) species in a certain region, out-of-season, etc. or needs photos/audio, etc.
- From regional eBird reviewers may who request an observer to submit RSD.
- From reports on the VT (VTBIRD) or the Upper Valley UVBIRD) listservs, Facebook (Vermont Birding group) or other social media.
- From word of mouth/text alerts/phone calls or a request by a Committee member.
Committee Review of Rare Species Documentations
Step 1: Review (prior to the meeting)
- Whenever possible RSDs are vetted for completeness by regional editors and/or Data Manager before coming to Committee.
- RSDs are posted to the VBRC’s webpage for Committee review.
- At least once prior to the annual meeting, RSDs (but not including potential first state records) are reviewed electronically by each Committee member through an electronic survey for review by each committee member.
- After reading the RSDs, Committee members vote on each RSD as either “accept” or “not accept”. For a record to be accepted, the electronic results need to be unanimous. RSDs that are ‘not accepted’ (not unanimous) will be discussed at the annual meeting. Thus, if there is any question about a RSD that needs to be brought up with the rest of the Committee, a vote to “not accept” will require a discussion.
Step 2: Discuss & Vote (at the meeting)
- Chair assigns RSDs among members to lead discussion at the annual meeting
- For First State Records:
- Electronic review/acceptance of first state records is not considered.
- Two independent RSDs (with no physical evidence) or one RSD with physical evidence (‘identifiable’ photo, sound recording, video) is necessary for a record to be considered.
- A vote of the members present must be 100% ‘yes’ to be accepted.
- For all other RSDs a vote of the members present must be 75% ‘yes’ to be accepted. Abstentions are not permitted.
- Historical Records, if accepted by the committee, are counted as State Record data.
Observers should be notified about the outcome of their RSD submission via electronic or postal mail.