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Congratulations to all who got out early and saw the bird! A Swainson's 
Warbler in Liberty, MO is a heck of a good bird. The record is much more 
valuable because several individuals took the trouble to  track the bird 
down and see it well.

Congratulations also to Doug Willis, who stuck his neck out and reported the 
bird when he had every reason to expect his report would be met with 
skepticism .

The whole episode reminds me of one of the first records turned in when the 
Missouri Bird Records Committee was just starting. (I was on the committee 
then). Mark Robbins reported one or more White-winged Crossbills. If I 
recall the details correctly, he saw the bird(s) well enough only to say 
that they looked and behaved like finches and then described their call. 
Mark has one of the keenest birding ears around, and  he was also Secretary 
of the committee at the time, but the committee rejected his record. The 
problem was that there was no way for committee members to evaluate  his 
verbal description of the call he heard. I suppose that the committee could 
just have taken his word for it. But what's a committee for, if it just 
takes someone's word for a record without objective criteria upon which to 
make an independant judgment?


I once witnessed the leader of a field trip at the Audubon Society's Hog 
Island camp in Maine, who was touted as having "one of the best birding ears 
on the east coast," misidentify a mooing cow as a Common Loon! Most 
long-time birders can relate similar instances where very good birders made 
horrendous mistakes. Experiences like that explain why reputation will only 
get you so far.

I have read a number of state bird books, in which the author, who wants his 
work to be credible, throws out records in the previous state bird book 
written a generation before because there was no evidence available (or it 
was insufficient) for the latter author to make an independent judgment. For 
that reason, members of the original MBRC (and I am sure also today's 
committee) endeavored to evaluate records on objective criteria that would 
still be credible to subsequent researchers when all of us are dead and 
gone. That is also why MBRC has made efforts to archive its records on 
acid-free paper so they will not deteriorate when that future author updates 
the state bird book 25 or 50 years hence.

I suppose that the forthcoming revision of the Robbins and Easterla book 
might mention the Swainson's Warbler in Liberty based solely upon the 
reputations of Doug Willis and Craig Hensley for knowing a Swainson's 
Warbler song when they hear it. But I can almost guaranty that whoever 
updates Birds of Missouri 25 years from now would throw out that record. If 
the sighting is written up by those who saw the bird and reviewed and 
archived by MBRC, the record probably will persist in future editions and 
will remain of interest to future readers.

BTW, someone described the bird foraging on the ground "like a sandpiper." 
Did it exhibit Swainson's distinctive wing quivering behavior? If so, please 
mention that in the report.

Bob Fisher
Independence, Missouri
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----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Joshua Uffman" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Sunday, July 10, 2005 8:06 AM
Subject: Marths Lafite Thompson Sanctuary Swainson's Warbler -- YES


> Congratulation to Doug Willis, Craig Hensley, Linda Williams and Kristi 
> Mayo for adding to the ornithological records of Missouri this morning, 
> July 10th!!
>
> Doug called me this morning at 7:45AM to say the are watching the 
> SWAINSON'S WARBLER at Martha Lafite Thompson Sanctuary, Clay County.  Doug 
> said the bird was moving around in some very thick brush probing around 
> very much like a sandpiper would.  AND to top it off Doug held out the 
> phone and I was clearly able to hear the warbler singing away!   How's 
> that for a year bird??
>
> Good work gang...and they did it without the use of any tapes!
>
>
>
>
>
> Joshua Uffman
> St. Louis County, MO
>
> Photo Gallery:  http://www.surfbirds.com/albums/index.php?cat=10005
> [log in to unmask]
>
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