Monday, January 04, 2010

Would you count it? A CBC conundrum.

John from A DC Birding Blog and I were conducting our part of the 75th Long Branch, NJ CBC on Saturday, a count that I compile. We were on a small trail along a frozen lake (like most of the water in our count area that day) and we ran into a gentleman putting up a Screech Owl box. He mentioned that he worked for The Raptor Trust, giving him some good credentials. He didn't know of any Screech Owls around, but did mention something very interesting. Earlier in the day, he ran into a hunter who showed him a photo taken that day of an injured Barred Owl on land within our count area. The owl box guy went to look for the bird, but did not find it. He planned to return later in the day with dogs to see if he could find it and then bring it in for rehab.

So, do I count it as a bird seen on our CBC? My plan is to count it unless someone has a good reason not to.

For a full write-up of our day and the birds we saw, check out A DC Birding Blog.


birdchick said...

That's a dilly of a pickle, but I wouldn't count it. You didn't see it yourself and you didn't even see the photo of the injured owl. Also, maybe the photo was taken the day before?

Unless you know this guy with the box really well as a birder, you really do not know what his id ability is. Even if he is putting up a screech owl box, he could have been looking at a photo of an injured of what he called a barred owl and it could have been a great gray (think of all the people who claim to know birds and then make one lulu of a mis id--it never ceases to amaze me).

Dennis said...

I agree with BirdChick about the mistaken id's, but speak (908-647-2353) to Len Soucy of the Raptor Trust. If he vouches for this person, count the owl. Len has done CBC for years, and would understand your dilemma.

Clare said...

Ultimately it is about data, but having said that I'd say no. Is the man a participant in the count? Is the hunter? At what point do we stop including data on a photo? Say there was a news item that day that filmed a flock of geese, supposed filmed on count day. Do you count them?

Patrick Belardo said...

A funny story that I forgot to share... on a different CBC this year that I didn't participate in, a Razorbill was found. BUT, it was not found on the CBC. It was seen in a Youtube video taken by a friend of one of the participants. So, in that case, the video was seen by a CBC participant.

I think you all make valid points. I think I'm just trying to convince myself to count it. Unfortunately, I didn't ask for the gentleman's name, but maybe I could contact Len. We go way back. My dad used to supply all the nuts and bolts for the enclosures there.

John said...

Actually the Raptor Trust might be able to confirm whether the injured owl was found.

I think that if a YouTube video of a razorbill is countable, a report of a photograph of an injured owl ought to be countable too. There really isn't much else in this area that's likely to be confused with a barred owl.

corey said...

If you don't count it it really is a "Barred" Owl.


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Rick said...

Ultimately the CBC is about (1) fun and (2) chasing squirrels around the Jamesian tree, but this bird "counts" as present in the count circle on count day.

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dguzman said...

Ouch. Yeah, I probably wouldn't count it. It's one thing if it's a "regular" bird (i.e., not a starling, but not a Cerulean Warbler either), but it's a whole other thing if it's an owl--and not just a Great Horned or an Eastern Screech.

John makes a good point--maybe the Raptor Trust people could give you more definite info on the owl in question.