I agree with Ryan about the need to increase the use of the  
"comments" section for SPARKS and CACHE entries, for the reasons  
stated and for potential future use of the records in CACHE/SPARKS by  
researchers, managers and birders.

I do want to make a slight correction to Ryan's example.  Ryan used a  
Carolina Chickadee at a northern Missouri site as an example of birds  
not being flagged in the CACHE/SPARKS database.

This is in error in two ways:

1.  Several species ARE flagged in the CACHE/SPARKS database and the  
data entry person is contacted by Mike Thelen about the entry.

2.  Carolina/Black-capped Chickadee is particularly problematic in  
Missouri, so these species are routinely flagged in several counties  
and the data enterer contacted.  Comments as to what determined the  
i.d. of one or the other should always be included in the contact  
zone counties.

  If a CACH were reported in Macon County, "bells would go off" among  
those who monitor the database.

Edge Wade
ASM Conservation Coordinator

On Feb 1, 2011, at 2:01 PM, Douglas, Ryan wrote:

> MOBirders-
> While there is (presumably) a lull in checklist submissions due to  
> weather, I would like to request that CACHE/SPARKS users make use  
> of the Comment section when submitting checklists.
> As many of you already know, Scott Schuette, Josh Uffman and I  
> review observations submitted to eBird for the state of Missouri.  
> eBird breaks Missouri down into 12 "regions," and each region has a  
> different list detailing which species are expected in a given  
> month. If an observer submits a species that is not on the monthly  
> list for a particular region the record is immediately flagged and  
> the observer is asked to confirm their sighting (to help limit  
> accidental submissions of rare birds). Whenever an observation is  
> flagged, be it for an unusually high count or an out of range  
> species, one of us will contact the observer for additional  
> details. Oftentimes eBird users simply write comments or provide a  
> link to a photograph within their checklist when a bird is flagged  
> as being "unusual." If the comments and/or provided photograph are  
> sufficient to identify the bird in question the three of us are  
> able to validate the record without contacting the observer.
> Unfortunately, CACHE/SPARKS users are not afforded the immediate  
> notification of potentially unusual birds that is provided by  
> eBird. When Scott uploads CACHE/SPARKS observations (roughly once  
> per month) into eBird several records may be flagged as "unusual."  
> The three of us then go back into CACHE/SPARKS to identify the  
> original observer and try to contact them as we would an eBird  
> user. We would like to request that CACHE/SPARKS users list a few  
> notes in the comments section about any birds on their checklist  
> that might be out of range and/or season. Since a month (or more)  
> may pass between when the checklist was submitted and when we eBird  
> reviewers see it many details about the sighting can be forgotten  
> and the record may not be validated for eBird.
> As an example, suppose I went birding at Long Branch SP in Macon  
> County and thought I saw a Carolina Chickadee. When I submit my  
> checklist to SPARKS it will accept it without question. However,  
> once Scott uploads my checklist into eBird the observation will be  
> flagged (the eBird filter for this region flags all Carolina  
> Chickadees year round) and someone will soon contact me to ask me  
> for more details. If it's been 3 weeks I may not even remember my  
> sighting, but if I had added comments/field notes when I first  
> submitted my checklist then this little problem would be completely  
> avoided! So, if it's not too much trouble, please include a few  
> field notes when you use CACHE/SPARKS if you think you've found  
> something out of range/date. If you're unsure, add some comments  
> anyways. Makes for good practice!
> Thanks,
> Ryan Douglas
> Volunteer eBird record reviewer
> Columbia, Boone Co.
> Ryan Douglas
> Postdoctoral Fellow
> 310 Tucker Hall
> University of Missouri
> Columbia, MO 65211
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