Hello Veer,

Good questions .....

The big red box query appears any time you have only one species on your 
checklist (or no species), except if you have indicated it is an 
"Incidental" checklist the red box doesn't show.

You indicate a checklist is "Incidental" when you were not making an 
effort to report all birds at location, area, or distance traveled 
during the time reported, especially when you were engaged in other, 
non-bird activities that occupied much of your time.  Also, If you spent 
a trivial amount of time making your observation, such as hearing or 
seeing the Carolina Wren (i.e. just enough time to recognize the bird 
and decide what it is) then you would list the checklist as "Incidental."

However, suppose you watched your feeder and the area around it intently 
for a period of time, (perhaps three, or five, or eighteen minutes ), 
recording all the birds that you saw or heard.  Then you would submit 
the checklist as "Stationary", indicating the time, etc., and say "Yes" 
to the question ""Are you submitting a complete checklist of the birds 
you were able to identify?"  .... That is, you are confirming it is a 
"Complete" checklist.

Suppose you heard or saw the Carolina Wren (it makes no difference if 
you heard or saw it, only that you were sure that it was a Carolina 
Wren) but no other birds in a five minute duration of focused birding.  
Then when you submit your checklist you only one species will be on it.  
But since you made an effort in that time at that location for the five 
minute duration, it would be a "Complete" checklist and in this case it 
would also be "Stationary".  But, since there was only one species on 
the checklist, the big red box will appear and ask you if your checklist 
truly is "Complete" or not.  In this case the answer is yes, so you 
click appropriately, and submit your checklist.

Does these comments answer your questions? If not, let me know.

Best wishes,


Ian Worley
Vermont ebird County Coordinator

On 11/1/2014 2:08 PM, Veer Frost wrote:
> sorry, it's unclear in my post that I am saying YES to the big red box query! about reporting all species.
> ---- On Sat, 01 Nov 2014 11:06:42 -0700 Veer Frost<[log in to unmask]> wrote ----
> I have been submitting my still present Carolina Wren sightings, although twice I only heard the song (right outside my window); in the latter case I said YES as I wasn't trying to find birds at that moment. Should such 'by ear' instances be reported as 'incidental'? Thank you! Veer
> ---- On Wed, 15 Oct 2014 07:27:57 -0700 Kent McFarland<[log in to unmask]> wrote ----
> Hi Birders,
> We wanted to alert all of you to some changes that have been made on eBird
> in the data submission process. You might have noticed recently three
> changes in the eBird submission process.
> (a) There is now a "historical" category added to the list of types of
> observations. It is for observations for which effort measures are not
> available. This is for use by birders putting into eBird their records
> from years before there was eBird, and often those effort measures (number
> of observers, duration, distance, and/or area) were not documented in those
> days. Providing the "historical" category simplifies eBird data for its
> major analytical purposes.
> (b) When you select "incidental" as your type of observation, eBird
> automatically selects “No” for the question about "complete checklists".
> Thus you no longer can have a checklist that is both "incidental" and
> "complete". This resolves a common misunderstanding about what an
> "incidental" checklist is.
> (c) And, if you submit a checklist with only one species and select "Yes"
> for the question"Are you submitting a complete checklist of the birds you
> were able to identify?" a big red box appears and asks you if it really is
> a complete checklist.
> The big red box question states:
> "You have reported fewer than five taxa on a complete checklist of birds.
> Answering 'yes' to 'Are you reporting all species?' implies that an effort
> was made to record all species present, not just highlight species. Please
> confirm that you understand this question or change it to 'no' if it was
> not an effort to record all species present."
> {The reference to five taxa is a typo and will soon be changed to say "one
> species"}
> The "complete checklist" question is very important in the application of
> eBird records in many analyses and applications of the data. For example,
> any questions about which birds are common and which rare requires that
> there is an effort to record all species detectable. It extends to all
> checklists, not just those with a single species.
> The lists of species are based on the observer putting in some effort to
> record all species that they were able to identify by sight and/or sound.
>   "Identify" means to name the species, or use a category such as
> Lesser/Greater Scaup, Larus sp., dabbling duck, etc. as provided by eBird.
> However, eBird has discovered that the Yes/No question was widely
> misunderstood and incorrectly answered. For example, they discovered that
> tens of thousands of checklists recorded as "complete" for a Snowy Owl, or
> other charismatic uncommon species, contained only that one species and
> none of the other surrounding birds ... even if other species were in
> photographs submitted. This really made a mess of the data and rendered
> them generally unusable for the basic eBird analyses.
> Thus, to answer "Yes, this is a complete checklist" you should have "made
> an effort to record all species present." In practice this means to record
> all the birds you were able to detect by the common methods used by the
> birding community, and to identify them to species or group as noted above.
> Also, thankfully, it does not mean that specialized methods such as mist
> netting, baiting, calling, stationary cameras, radar, etc. are necessary.
> It also does not mean that you must spend any certain amount of time, cover
> any specific acreage, travel a standard distance or increase the number of
> observers .... since the effort measures capture all the variety of
> everyday birding outings, and make the eBird data we all collect useful for
> countless analyses locally and worldwide.
> Thanks for your contributions to eBird.
> Kent McFarland and the county coordinators at Vermont eBird
> Special thanks to county coordinator Ian Worley for getting this
> information together.
> ____________________________
> Kent McFarland
> Vermont Center for Ecostudies
> PO Box 420 | Norwich, Vermont 05055
> 802.649.1431 x2
> ____________________________________
> Veer Frost, Passumpsic (NEK)
> ____________________________________
> And I know my work is good. Not everybody likes it, that's fine. I don't do it for everybody. Or anybody. I do it because I can't not do it. Maurice Sendak
> Dwell in the Essential. I Ching