Scott is right (or so I hope...).  No one here means
any offense by raising *reasonable* questions about a
rare bird sighting.  Nor should anyone be offended if
their sighting doesn't "make the cut" with the official
records committee (thanks to Rosalind for some clarity
on that matter).

To the skeptics:  Let's take a little care in our writing
so as not to offend anyone or discourage would-be reporters.

To the rare bird reporters:  Let's take Scott's & Hector's
good advice and report some details (I do realize that this
particular case is a second-hand report [the observers are
not on VTBIRD]).  Remember that there are birders avid
enough to drive across the state looking for a reported
rarity (myself included on occasion).

To the rarity-chasers:  chase at your (our?) own risk!
If details are not forthcoming, then you make your own
judgements about the probability of finding the bird
or just "burning up gallons of fossil fuel" for nothing
more than a long drive.  ;)

Ernie Buford

Quoting MARIE/KEVIN HEMEON <[log in to unmask]>:

> It seems to me there is a lot of knee-jerking going on here. Instead of
> looking for ways to automatically dismiss this sighting (and a degree of
> questioning is called for) how about some good questions. Everyone is
> assuming a harrier underside view. Do we even know what view they had? I
> would ask how long they watched this bird for, estimated distance and was it
> just underside or was it perched at any time or banked to allow upper views.
> These views would provide enough field marks to rule out a harrier to a
> practiced birder, which I know the Kosches are. Can we find these things out
> Bonnie before we just poo-poo the southern Vt. birders? Kevin

Now wait just a minute.  Nobody is automatically dismissing this sighting, nor
is anybody pooh-poohing southern Vermont birders or the Kosches (who I do not
know personally).  I and others were merely pointing out how some similar
species can be mis-ID'd in the field.  These kinds of discussions are necessary
to make all of us better birders.  For the record, when reporting an extreme
rarity on a listserv of this type, where there is a mixture of experience
levels, it is good to at least include a brief description of the bird.  That
makes it easier for all of us to evaluate the quality of the sighting.

Scott [Morrical]

... and Hector Galbreath wrote:

I do not want to weigh in on the kite string. However, it illustrates a
point about how one uses the listserve that I think may be worth making:
if one sees a rare bird and wants to report it on VTbirds it is worth
including a brief description of the salient field marks, and why you
consider it to be that particular species. This will help any other
birder who wants to see that particular species in evaluating whether or
not it is worth jumping in the car and burning up gallons of fossil fuel
to go look for it.

 Ernest W. Buford
 Rubenstein School of Environment
   and Natural Resources
 University of Vermont
 Burlington, VT  05405
 (802) 656-3324