The most frequently asked questions from both beginning and experienced birders involve what birds to report, where and how to report them, and what to include in a report. Here is a summary of the current state of reporting in New Jersey birding, along with links to sources for further information and guidance.
Report Review List species and species new to the state to the NJAS hotline compilers, (see below), to the Regional Editors (see below), and to the New Jersey Bird Records Committee.
The Records Committee maintains an "official" list of all birds known to have been seen in the state; it seeks details on birds that are seen for the first time in the state, and species that have been seen only a few times in the past, and it keeps an archive of these reports. The list of species for which documentation is requested is called the review list; the current list is found at http://njbrc.net/rlist.html .
A form showing the type of information to report is at http://njbrc.net/birdform.txt but this form is not required. Include a complete description of appearance, behavior, and vocalizations; especially valuable are photocopies of field notes taken during or immediately following the observation, photographs, and sound or video recordings. E-mail or U.S.-mail a narrative letter or form to:
Bill Boyle, NJBRC Secretary, 14 Crown Dr., Warren, NJ 07059.
Hotline (Rare Bird Alert) birds, which are not T&E or on the state Review List, but which are sought by birders, should be reported to the NJAS hotline compilers and to Regional Editors.
Examples of such species are many, of course; here are a few: "winter finches" (Crossbills, Evening and Pine Grobeaks, Redpolls), shearwaters seen from shore, Harlequin Ducks, eiders, eagles, godwits, phalaropes, jaegers, "white-winged" gulls, Roseate Tern, Sedge Wren, Golden-winged, Mourning, and Connecticut Warblers, Lark and Clay-colored Sparrows. (Of course, Review List and endangered species are also of interest to the Rare Bird Alert audience!)
"How to Report" info is given on each week's hotline report, on the Internet, or on the telephone hotline. Both hotlines in New Jersey - Voice of New Jersey Audubon and Cape May Birding Hotline - are updated every Thursday; submit reports from the previous week by Wednesday 5 PM, if not sooner!
The Voice of New Jersey Audubon covers the state of New Jersey (except that it usually does not duplicate most of the reports covered by the Cape May hotline). To hear the recorded message: (732) 872-2595; to report: (732) 872-2500.
The Cape May Birding Hotline covers Cape May, Atlantic, and Cumberland Counties. To hear the recorded message: (609) 898-2473; to report: (609) 884-2736 or e-mail CapeMayReports@njaudubon.org.
Current text and searchable archives on the Web:
You can receive the two New Jersey Hotlines and other occasional alerts by e-mail, by subscribing to the NJBIRDS e-mail list (see below).
In addition to reports of rarities and unusual species, other useful observations for more regularly occurring species should be directed to the Regional Editors of two quarterly journals: New Jersey Birds and North American Birds. Both are part of a long-running effort, almost entirely volunteer-based, to keep a permanent record of the most important observations by amateur birders throughout North America. The record takes the form of Field Notes columns compiled by an Editor with in-depth knowledge of the area he or she covers.
Examples: Unusually high or low counts of migrants; dates and composition of major waves of migrants and possible weather influences; first/peak/last dates for migrants; unusual locations for species more regular elsewhere in the state; irruptions; breeding success of scarce species; range expansions and contractions; and long-term trends you have noticed. For more guidance, pay careful attention to reports published in New Jersey Birds and North American Birds for several seasons, and consult the appropriate Regional Editor for your area.
You should always try to organize your report in proper taxonomic (checklist) order. A copy of each New Jersey Birds regional column goes to the North American Birds Regional Editor(s) to assist them in the preparation of their reports; but observers may also report directly to North American Birds.
Photographs of interesting species are most welcome; always include date, location, and photographer's name with submissions. For additional guidance on the submission of digital photos, see Digital Camera Tips for New Jersey Birds Photographers, by Peggy Wang (New Jersey Birds 30:93-94 (Winter 2004)).
Please note: There are two birding mailing lists in New Jersey, NJBIRDS and JerseyBirds. They have different functions.
NJBIRDS is an alert-only mailing list. If you join by subscribing to the list, you will receive (a) each weekly hotline issued by the NJ Audubon Society bird observatories; and (b) updates between weekly tapes as available, for Review List species (i.e., extreme rarities). You will not be able to post to the list, whether you are a member/subscriber or not, because it is moderated. Only the moderator can post messages. To report an extreme rarity for distribution on NJBIRDS, send e-mail to one or both of the moderator. NJBIRDS is sponsored by the NJ Bird Records Committee and hosted at Princeton University's listserver, firstname.lastname@example.org.
JerseyBirds is a discussion list for sightings, trip reports, identification questions/answers, and any other birding topic of interest to New Jersey birders. All questions are welcome and anyone who subscribes to the list may post (send messages to all list members). Rarity announcements are welcome; however, the information should also be sent to the appropriate New Jersey Birds (the journal, that is) Regional Editor, and to the New Jersey Bird Records Committee if a Review List species. JerseyBirds is also hosted at Princeton University's listserver, email@example.com.
When you join any birding discussion forum, group or list on the Internet, you are always sent information about the group, including how to join and leave, stop and start your mail, the group's "netiquette," and other important facts. Be sure to read and save that information.
Threatened and Endangered species have been determined by scientific studies to be at risk of disappearing from New Jersey unless given legal protection. The laws are administered by the State Department of Environmental Protection. Some species are in danger of complete extirpation and some are in danger of no longer nesting in the state. Examples: Many raptors, owls, and wetland and grassland species are endangered species. A list of New Jersey Endangered Species is found at http://www.state.nj.us/dep/fgw/tandespp.htm.
Report Threatened/Endangered (T&E) species to the New Jersey Endangered and Nongame Species Program, and to NJAS Regional Editors (see below). See http://www.state.nj.us/dep/fgw/ensp/rprtform.htm for reporting procedures. Maps are required for all reports. E-mail reports are also acceptable; see http://184.108.40.206/~audubon/Report_an_Endangered_and_Threatened_Bird.htm for instructions.
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This page is copyright ©2008 by Laurie Larson and New Jersey Bird Records Committee. Use without permission is prohibited.
Updated March 2008.