Greetings from Maryland, We have been reading the kite/rare bird reporting discussion from afar and would like to offer our comments as formerly more active members of the Vermont Bird Records Committee (VBRC) and birders who have submitted a fair number of reports for review by committees in Connecticut, New York and Maryland, as well as Vermont. First, state record review committees function only as keepers of 'official' state lists, which have some scientific basis. When observers report a rare bird that is not accepted by the committee, it does not mean that the observer must strike the species off their personal list(s). Records committees are not the "List Police". The ABA may stipulate that only officially accepted species may appear on an observer's state list, but this only applies to first records of species, any species already accepted on a state list is "fair game" for inclusion in a list regardless of a record commitee's opinion of a subsequent report after the first record is accepted. Also, this only applies to reports sent to ABA, a personal list is just that, a personal list. Second, a record that is not accepted by a committee is not rejected - it's a subtle difference in terminology, but an important one. Rejection implies an omniscience not in the possession of records commitee members, and also implies a permanence of record status that is untrue. Any record, accepted or not accepted, is open to future review based on new evidence, they are never closed. If a photo or more thorough description ever comes to hand, the not accepted can be accepted; sadly, the reverse should also be an available alternative. Many other state committees put considerable effort into documenting why individual records were accepted or not accepted - see the New York example at http://www.nybirds.org/NYSARC/Reports/NYSARC2002.html. The treatment of the Hermit X Townsend's Warbler hybrid on Long Island in Autumn 2002 is an excellent example of the NYSARC's care in reviewing, revising initial identification missteps, and explaining the decision-making process to the public. At the time that we relocated to Maryland and could no longer easily attend VBRC meetings, the committee was just beginning to move in this direction and we hope that now there is a VBRC web site, the effort will progress. However, birders must recognize that members are volunteers (and also enthusiastic birders, who would rather be birding) who often do not have the time they might like to devote to the endeavor. Improved communication between the committee and the birding public could go a long way to reduce birder suspicion and committee defensiveness. As far as commentary on individual reports to VTBird goes, people should regard them more as educational opportunities. If an observer reports a species two or three weeks earlier than the published record supports, without any note recognizing that fact or giving details of the sighting, it is natural for others to query the sighting. They should be polite and respectful in the way they ask, but there should be no anger at their curiosity. By way of example, perhaps an original poster who said they heard a pewee in their back yard didn't realize that starlings are adept pewee mimics, so the early-April heard-only pewee may have actually been a starling. Having someone offer this as a possibility adds to the birding knowledge of everyone on the list. It is also a problem that Spring Migration comes after Autumn Migration in the cycle of the year. In autumn, migrants can often trail off over a matter of several weeks, with occasional reappearances long after the migration peak due to lingering and reversed migration. In spring, migrants originate from the tropics and are governed by hormones that "instruct" them when to leave and only come under the influence of the weather in North America when they arrive on the Gulf Coast only a week or so ahead of their northern average arrival date. Spring migrants from the tropics therefore only very rarely exceed their normal arrival date by more than a week, due to extraordinary circumstances such as wintering in Florida or arriving early on the Gulf and getting encouraged northward by a strong southwesterly frontal system. Birding is a very pleasant and entertaining activity. E-mail lists such as this are a testament to that. Records committees do not exist to make birding less fun. Records committees exist to help birders contribute to the science of bird distribution in a meaningful way. Regards, Nancy Martin & Walter Ellison New England Regional Editors, North American Birds, Autumn Season 23460 Clarissa Road Chestertown, MD 21620 phone: 410-778-9568 e-mail: [log in to unmask] "A person who is looking for something doesn't travel very fast" - E. B. White (in "Stuart Little") "Are there *ever* enough birds?" - Connie Hagar as quoted by Edwin Way Teale in "Wandering through Winter"