RSEC Communications

Blog Posts

News from the ABA Recording Standards and Ethics Committee, Supplemental – 10/8/2014 – Matt Fraker
The Return of RSEC, Recording Standards take Center Stage – 12/11/2013 – Matt Fraker
2016 Big Year Competition Final Determination – 12/27/2017 – RSEC


News from the ABA Recording Standards and Ethics Committee – Nick Block – Birder’s Guide, October 2014

Explanations of Countability

Clarifying What Counts: A Birder’s Guide Interview with the Secretary of the Recording Standards and Ethics Committee – Sheridan Coffey – Birder’s Guide, October 2015 (PDF version)

What Counts? And Why? Says Who? – Jeff Skrentny – Winging It, December 2013 [This article was written before the 2014 update to the Recording Rules but is still applicable.]

One of the most common listing misconceptions we encounter among birders is regarding the role of state records committees in determining the countability of a species or individual record. Here are some quotes from Sheridan Coffey’s article (linked to above) that address this issue:

Regarding introduced species
“I think both the RSEC and the CLC would love to see a list of officially established (i.e., countable) populations for each introduced species on the Checklist, but such a list is nowhere near fruition. Until then, the RSEC prefers to leave decisions about the countability of introduced species on the Checklist to the individual birder. Many birders (including myself most of the time!) look to local records committees for guidance in making these decisions, but local committee decisions technically do not affect whether a birder may count something on a list submitted to the ABA.”

Regarding whether records rejected by a state committee may be counted
“Unambiguously, yes, as long as that rarity is on the ABA Checklist. As I mentioned above, many (most?) birders look to records committees for guidance in what they decide to count on a life list, but they technically don’t have to do so when reporting totals to the ABA. As long as a birder encounters a species in a way that adheres to the ABA’s Recording Rules, the birder may choose to count the species.”

Basically, rejected state records of species that are on the ABA Checklist are countable, just like heard-only and established introduced species are.