The official website of the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines
The official website of the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines

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Publication of rare and unusual bird sightings

A fast-growing number of bird species are being reported from outside their known home ranges. These reports include resident species as well as species normally not occurring in the Philippines. The reports may identify the species correctly. However, as some species can be easily misidentified because of their resemblance to similar and potentially confusing common species or subspecies, without documentation such as original field notes (descriptions), photos or tape records, the observations cannot be verified.

Following the codes for what normally are accepted and included in official checklists, WBCP has established a system of verification of records of very rare birds or those which have been recorded only a few times, and birds reported from outside their known distributional area, such as a Luzon endemic claimed for Mindanao. The system and the guidelines for external acceptance of new records are described in great detail (pages 8-10) in the Complete Guide to Birds of the Philippines by Robert Kennedy, et al.

A major aim of the WBCP Records Committee is therefore to vet records so that they are as credible as possible. If people are going to take the time to submit records it is only fair that they feel that their records are taken seriously. To this end we are likely to query records that in some way might be 'unusual'. These may include birds seen in the 'wrong' habitat, or birds that are known to present identification difficulties, though the details required will, naturally, depend on how unusual the record is. This system of assessment and verification has been put in place only to ensure that there is enough documentation for publication in the Club’s website and reports. It will contribute to an external review process when documented records are being considered for inclusion in the country’s official list of wild birds or in field guides.

If you see a bird that you think is unusual in that location, please take notes at the time you are observing the bird, and ideally photograph it or take sound recordings. Even poor-quality photos can often help identify a bird. Then submit the record in a bird list for the site. If it is not accepted at the time, it may be accepted at a later date when more information becomes available. Everyone who wishes to take on the responsibility of reporting on behalf of WBCP faces a positive challenge – that of supporting the WBCP verification system. The system is part of the process of bird watching and is a good learning tool too.

Please expect to be quizzed about any unusual records for the sake of everyone else's records. We expect to decline some correct records that cannot be properly verified, at least temporarily, in order to maintain the veracity of the others. The Records Committee wishes to reiterate that WBCP cannot or shall not decide what an observer might have seen. The system that has been put in place only verifies that very unusual records are supported by documentation that clarifies that the records in question are of the suggested species.

Bird species for which an observation requires documentation for publishing in the annual WBCP list of recorded Philippine birds include all species outside their known home range, new species to the Philippines (accidental records), and rarely/accidentally occurring species with less than 30 published records or not reported in the past many years.