Bylaws of the Western Field Ornithologists’
CALIFORNIA BIRD RECORDS COMMITTEE
I. Name and affiliation
A. Name. The official name of this organization shall be the “Western Field Ornithologists’ California Bird Records Committee,” which may be shortened to the “California Bird Records Committee” and is hereafter referred to as “the Committee.”
B. Affiliation. This is a committee of the Organization known as the “Western Field Ornithologists.”
A. Endorse records of selected birds from the State of California and adjacent ocean, including, but not limited to, all such records submitted for publication to any official journal or checklist of the Western Field Ornithologists. “Adjacent Ocean” is herein defined as that area within the United States Fisheries Conservation Zone where the nearest point of land is within 200 nautical miles of the California coast, except where the southern boundary is affected by areas under the jurisdiction of Mexico pursuant to international law.
B. Permanently maintain or cause to be maintained the original bird records and all Committee votes and comments for use by future bird students.
C. Publish at least minimal data on all records receiving a decision.
D. Provide a means by which sight records can gain universal acceptance as valuable scientific data.
E. Increase knowledge of the birds of California.
F. Establish standards of observation and reporting against which field observers may compare their own techniques.
G. Keep, or cause to be kept, the official California State Bird List.
A. Number and Definitions. The Committee shall consist of at least nine Voting Members, one of whom is the “Chair,” and one of whom is the “Vice-Chair,” each with one vote.
B. Qualifications. Anyone is eligible to become a Voting Member if, in the estimation of the existing Voting Members, that person has demonstrated an expert ability in, and knowledge of, field identification of birds and is a member in good standing of Western Field Ornithologists.
(a) Receive, circulate, recirculate and file all bird records and supporting data submitted to the Committee. Whenever possible the records filed should be the originals, as copies fade with age.
(b) Procure additional data on records when deemed desirable, especially when a record is to come up for discussion at a meeting of the Committee. Prior to any meeting, furnish Members with a list of records to be discussed.
(c) Tabulate results of all votes of the Committee on records.
(d) Keep current the Review List, furnish it to anyone upon request, and publish it in Western Birds, preferably with each Annual Report.
(e) Furnish Members with such equipment as needed, including Voting Forms.
(f) Furnish or cause to be furnished to anyone, upon request, all appropriate evidence, including Committee comments, concerning any accepted or not accepted bird record. Such evidence may be in the form of copies of documents or photographs.
(g) Furnish Report Forms to anyone upon request and free of charge.
(h) Keep current a master copy of these Bylaws and assure that they are properly applied.
(a) Call and preside at Committee meetings.
(b) Keep, or cause to be kept, minutes of Committee meetings.
(c) With the approval of the Members, appoint chairpersons of subcommittees.
(d) Furnish Members with a list of nominees for election to Member at least three weeks prior to the Annual Meeting.
(e) Assist the Secretary and members with record distribution, recirculations, and other required clarifications.
(f) Furnish or cause to be furnished to anyone, upon request, all appropriate evidence, including Committee comments, concerning any accepted or not accepted bird record. Such evidence may be in the form of copies of documents or photographs.
(g) Keep current a master copy of these Bylaws and assure that they are properly applied.
(1) Qualifications. The Vice-Chair must be one of the nine Voting Members.
(2) Election and Term of Office.
(a) The Vice-Chair shall be elected for a term of one year. Election shall be by vote of a quorum present in person, not by proxy or absentee ballot, at the Annual Meeting of the Committee.
(b) The Vice-Chair takes office at the close of the Annual Meeting at which elected and serves until the close of the next Annual Meeting, or until a successor is elected.
(c) The Vice-Chair may serve an unlimited number of terms, except as provided in the Bylaws controlling the number of terms that a Voting Member may serve.
(3) Nominations. Nominations for Vice-Chair shall be made only by Voting Members, and only at the Annual Meeting, either in person or by communication to an attending Voting Member. It is the responsibility of the nominator to obtain confirmation of willingness to serve from the nominee submitted. A nominator may make a maximum of one nomination, and may not self-nominate.
(4) Duties. The Vice-Chair shall, at the Chair's request, assist in carrying out the Chair's duties. If the Chair shall be unable to serve, then the Vice-Chair shall act as Chair in all respects. The Vice-Chair, or a representative Member, shall conduct the election of the Chair.
G. Removals. The Committee may remove, for cause, the Secretary, or any Voting Members who are delinquent in their duties. Such action requires a vote of the majority of all other Voting Members, not merely of a quorum. A removal must be accomplished at a meeting of the Committee; absent Voting Members may vote by written absentee ballot to the Committee. If removal of the chair is proposed, the Vice-Chair shall preside.
H. Vacancies and Special Elections. If the Committee loses a Voting Member during mid-term (through death, resignation, removal, or otherwise), the Chair shall immediately conduct an election, termed a Special Election, for the purpose of filling the vacancy. A Special Election may be conducted at a meeting or by individual contact (such as mail, e-mail or telephone), whichever is most expedient in the opinion of the Chair. The manner of nomination and election shall be similar, with appropriate exceptions, to the regular selection of a Voting Member or Chair, whichever pertains.
I. Compensation. Neither the Secretary nor a Voting Member may receive compensation for Committee work, but may be reimbursed by the Treasurer of the Western Field Ornithologists for expenses reasonably incurred in the performance of Committee duties.
A. Annual Meeting. An Annual Meeting of the Committee shall be held once a year, at a time and place set by the Chair, in consultation with the Members and Secretary, for the purpose of election and for transacting such other business as may be brought before the meeting. The Chair must give to all Members prior notice of the Annual Meeting. An agenda and list of nominees for Member shall be provided at least three weeks prior to the Annual Meeting.
B. Special Meetings. Special Meetings of the Committee may be called by the Chair, or by agreement of five or more Members, or in the Chair’s absence by the Vice-Chair. Whoever calls the meeting must notify and provide an agenda to each Voting Member prior to the meeting.
C. Quorum. Five Voting Members in good standing, present in person, not by proxy, shall constitute a quorum for any meeting of the Committee.
A. Formation. All Bylaws and other procedures of the Committee are to be as determined by and only by the Committee, except that they may not be inconsistent with the Bylaws of the Western Field Ornithologists, or with rules adopted by its Board of Directors, or be prohibited by law.
B. Review. The Bylaws shall be reviewed regularly, at least once every five years, by the Committee.
C. Amendments. These Bylaws may be amended by an affirmative vote of all or all but one of a quorum at any Committee meeting.
VI. Bird Records
A. Definitions. For the purposes of this Committee and these Bylaws, a “record” is considered to be documentation submitted to the Committee as proof of the identity and presence of a bird. The “Review List” is that most recent list of “forms” (such as species, superspecies, subspecies or hybrid combinations) that will be accepted for review by the Committee.
B. Records Treated.
(1) Records only from the State of California and adjacent ocean (as defined in II.A.) will be treated.
(2) The forms treated will be determined from time to time by the Committee. In general, the Review List will consist of species that have occurred within California and adjacent ocean on an average of four or fewer times per year during the ten-year period immediately preceding revision of the Review List. By vote of at least seven members at a meeting or by other voting procedure, the Committee may, as it sees fit, add other species (such as those whose identification is difficult) or forms (such as superspecies, subspecies, or hybrid combinations) to the Review List. To add or delete a form to/from the Review List shall require at least seven votes. Records of species not on the Review List, but for which there is no accepted record for California, will be treated.
(3) The criteria for inclusion on the Review List, and the forms listed, will be reviewed at least once every five years.
(4) Records based on specimens or bandings will be treated in the same manner as other records.
(5) Any record, whether published or not, old or new, may be submitted by a Voting Member or other person. An exception to this is a record that has received a previous Committee decision (see Resubmission).
(6) Records concerning forms that are only locally or temporally rare in California will not be treated.
(7) Without specific Committee approval (i.e., approval of all or all but one Members at a meeting), forms other than species will not be treated unless listed on the Review List.
(8) The Committee will also review records of breeding populations of introduced species not on the state list, but only if evidence is submitted that attempts to prove (a) the correct identification of the species and (b) the viability of the population. To be judged viable, a population must: (i) have bred in the state for fifteen (15) consecutive years, (ii) in general, be increasing or stabilized after an initial period of increase, (iii) be judged to have occupied all geographically contiguous suitable habitat to such a degree as to sustain the population and be thought unlikely to significantly diminish, and (iv) occupy an environment judged similar enough in ecological factors (e.g., climate, vegetation, food, shelter, competitors, predators) to the species’ natural habitat, or to other successful introductions, that permanent establishment seems likely.
C. Submission. Records may be submitted in any form, including on the Committee’s official Report Form.
(1) A record that has received a final Committee decision, even though published in a Committee Annual Report, may be resubmitted by the Chair, a Member, an observer, or any other person. For previously accepted records, any member may bring the record to an annual meeting and request that it be re-reviewed. A simple majority vote is then required to re-review the record. Previously not accepted records continue to require new and substantial documentary evidence that might affect the decision, as judged by a majority of those voting at an annual meeting. For a record not accepted because of questionable natural occurrence, such evidence might include the recognition of a natural pattern of occurrence. Such a record must be resubmitted and circulated as if never before submitted, except that it should be accompanied by all previous votes and comments of the Committee, its publication status, and all new evidence marked as such.
(2) Records previously receiving a final “not accepted” decision must receive all or all but one “accept” votes to reverse a record not accepted on identification or establishment of population, or all but two “accept” votes to reverse a record not accepted on natural occurrence grounds, with the exception that two “not accept” votes based on identification will always result in a decision of “not accepted, identification not established.” Records previously receiving a final accepted decision must receive a majority of “not accepted” votes to reverse the previous decision and become not accepted; otherwise they remain accepted. Any such re-review of records with previous decisions should be discussed in an appropriate annual report.
(3) Accepted records of individual birds returning or continuing through subsequent years shall be treated the same as any other resubmission of an accepted record. A majority vote determines whether a record is to be treated as a resubmission of a returning or continuing bird.
E. Retraction. A record submitted to the Committee by the observer(s) involved may not be retracted after circulation has begun. The observer(s) may submit opinions or additional data that totally or partially negate the record. Such new information shall be treated as “new and substantial documentary evidence” (see VI. D.) and the record shall have its first submission terminated at the end of the then current circulation and be resubmitted under the same record number, except that if the record has already received a final “not accepted” vote, no further circulation need take place.
F. Circulation Procedures.
(a) Affix to it a unique number, consisting of the year of the sighting (not the year of receipt) separated by a hyphen from the next available unused number, (starting with “001,” for that year). Each description received in support of the same record shall receive the same number. Records of the same bird but circulated as a different species or form shall receive a new record number.
(b) Record in a safe place at least the name of the reporter, the species of the bird, the date and locality of the record, and the record’s number.
(c) Check the description for completeness and clarity and, if deemed desirable, request additional information from the reporter or other observers. Details thus acquired must be clearly marked as such and kept separate from the original submission; the original submission should not be returned to the reporter except in copy form.
(d) Vote on the record (see Voting), if the Secretary is a Voting Member.
(e) Send the record with all pertinent supporting documentation (along with other records, if desired) to the Chair along with a cover sheet, which must list, in order of circulation, the names and addresses of all Voting Members, with the Secretary listed last, as well as the number of the record(s) included in the package. Instead of mailing, the batch may be transmitted electronically.
(a) Judge its validity and vote.
(b) Send the record to the next Member as soon as possible unless the batch has previously been transmitted electronically.
(c) Send the completed Voting Form to the Secretary.
(d) The last Member to vote should return the record to the Secretary.
(e) Members anticipating lengthy absences from their mailing address shall report their intentions to the Secretary, Chair, and other members; circulation should be rerouted to accommodate such absences.
(a) A record shall be recirculated automatically, together with the votes and comments of every Member from previous circulations, until it has received a decision vote, until three circulations (two recirculations) have been completed, or until it is resubmitted, whichever comes first.
(b) If after the third circulation the record has not received a decision vote, it will be kept by the Secretary until it can be discussed at a meeting of the Committee.
(c) A record that has not received a final decision after three circulations shall be discussed at a meeting of the Committee. No final decision shall be made at the meeting. Instead, the record shall receive a final vote (see VI.G.(11)) during a fourth and final circulation to those Voting Members on the Committee at the start of said meeting.
(d) A record that has received a “final” decision during its first circulation (but not during subsequent circulations) shall nevertheless be recirculated upon request of any Voting Member or if the Secretary or Chair feels that the Committee’s first-circulation comments might alter the decision within one month of the Secretary announcing the decision.
(e) A record that has received a “final” decision after its 2nd or 3rd circulation, shall nevertheless be brought to a Committee meeting upon request of any present or immediately past Voting Member (if they had voted on that record in its last circulation) within one month of the Secretary announcing the decision and shall be discussed. Once discussion has been completed and after submission of a motion for continued circulation to either a third or fourth and final found only a second is needed to continue the circulation. Records that are approved unanimously shall not be subject to this provision and shall become final upon the tabulation of the votes by the Secretary.
(f) Except as noted above, all decisions are final unless a record is to be resubmitted.
(1) Voting Forms. The vote of each Voting Member, together with comments, if any, must be submitted on an official Voting Form or reasonable facsimile thereof. This form must include spaces for at least the (a) record number, (b) name of the species, (c) name of the Committee Voting Member, (d) date of review, (e) number of the circulation, (f) Voting Member’s decision, and (g) comments. However, when the vote of a Voting Member does not require comments during a first circulation, such vote may be transmitted to the Chair in an appropriate alternate form.
(2) Voting Categories.
(b) Not accept,
(i) identification not established
(ii) natural occurrence questionable.
(iii) establishment of introduced population questionable.
(iv) date and/or location uncertain
(3) Abstentions. Voting Members may not abstain from voting.
(4) Secretary and Chair Votes. The Secretary must vote if s/he is also a Voting Member and the Chair must vote. On each circulation, such votes must be prior to sending the record to the remaining Members (thus without seeing Members’ comments for that circulation).
(5) Comments. On the first circulation, a “not accepted” vote should be supported by appropriate comments. On subsequent circulations, either a “not accept” or an “accept” vote should be supported by comments.
(6) Consultations. On the first circulation, a Voting Member should not discuss a record, with intent to persuade or lobby for a particular outcome, with another Voting Member prior to both having voted. Discussions about the validity of a sighting between observers, commentators or North American Birds editors (for example, to determine if such a sighting should be published), is acceptable. On subsequent circulations, pre-vote discussions with other Voting Members are acceptable. On any circulation, a Voting Member may consult anyone outside the Committee before voting.
(7) Voting Criteria. The criteria used by a Voting Member for acceptance or non-acceptance of a record are an individual matter and should not be dictated by these Bylaws. Such criteria might include particular scrutiny of records by single or untrustworthy observers, or records not identified to the satisfaction of the reporter.
(8) Change of Voting Member. A circulation in progress at the time a new Voting Member(s) is elected should be completed by the retired Voting Member(s), except that removed Voting Members do not qualify; subsequent circulations, and hence in some cases final voting, should be completed by new Voting Member(s), except as noted in VI.F.(3)(c).
(9) Tabulation. The voting results shall be tabulated by the Secretary after all Voting Members have voted.
(10) Decisions During the First Three Circulations. Except as noted under Recirculations (VI. F (3)), on any of the first three circulations, with all Voting Members voting,
(a) A record is considered accepted if it receives no more than one “not accept” vote if the identification is considered questionable, or not more than two “not accept” votes if natural occurrence is considered questionable.
(b) A record is considered not accepted if it receives five or more “not accept” votes.
(c) A record is not considered to have received a “final” decision and is to be recirculated, or after three circulations is to be presented at a meeting, if it receives from two to four “not accept” votes (identification) or three to four “not accept” votes (other categories).
(11) Decision During the Fourth Circulation. A record receiving a fourth and final circulation (see VI.F. (3)(c)) shall have its votes evaluated in the following manner: a record receiving all or all but one “accept” votes shall be accepted. A record receiving two or more “not accept” votes in the categories “identification not established” or “establishment of introduced population questionable” shall not be accepted. A record receiving three or more “not accept” votes in the category “natural occurrence questionable” or “date and/or location uncertain” shall not be accepted. Otherwise the record shall be accepted.
(12) Not Accepted Records. Not Accepted Records. Any not accepted record that receives two or more “not accept, identification not established” votes will be published as “not accepted, identification not established.” All other not accepted records will be published as “not accepted, natural occurrence questionable (identification accepted),” “not accepted, establishment of introduced population questionable,” or “not accepted date and/or location uncertain” whichever receives more votes; ties between these categories shall be decided by the Committee at the next annual meeting. For records that are not accepted on the basis of "natural occurrence questionable," "establishment of population questionable," or "date and/or location uncertain" it shall already have been established that the identification was accepted.
(13) Supplemental List. The Committee shall maintain a Supplemental List of those species not yet on the State List that are “not accepted, natural occurrence questionable” but approved by a majority of Members on a final vote as described in Article VI, Section G, Paragraph 11, or at an annual meeting. All records of species fitting these criteria which are not yet on the State List, and which a majority did not accept on a final vote, shall be brought to the next available annual meeting, where a majority vote will be needed to place the species on the Supplemental List. After such a record has been considered at one annual meeting, it shall be brought to additional meetings for further consideration only at the request of a Member. A record of a species meeting the above criteria, and appearing on the Supplemental List herein described, may be reconsidered at a meeting at the request of a Member, but it shall require a two-thirds vote of the Members at such a meeting to delete the record from the Supplemental List. If a species is added to the State List, it shall be automatically removed from the Supplemental List.
H. Statistical acceptance or non-acceptance of records. The Committee may adopt additional methods of dealing with published records of review-listed species for which documentation is not available (an example might be records that were supported by specimen and published in an authoritative source, but for which the specimen is no longer extant). Such records may be accepted or not accepted for statistical use in the compilation of California records without circulating through the Committee. Decisions of this nature may be made at a meeting. Records without details may be formally not accepted by majority vote. Any record accepted in this category must receive all, or all but one, of the votes of the Members present at such meeting. Any use or publication of such accepted records by the Committee shall be accompanied by a clear indication that the record was not reviewed under normal procedures; such records are considered statistically accepted or not accepted.
(1) The decisions of the Committee shall be published annually, under the authorship of the Chair and/or others if desired, in the form of an Annual Report, in Western Birds. A section of this Annual Report shall be devoted to updating the California State List.
(2) The published data for accepted records should include at least the species name, date(s) of observation, locality, and reporting observers. Other data may be added at the discretion of the author(s) and the Voting Members.
(3) Not accepted records should also be published, with a minimum of the above data, except that the observers’ name(s) should not be included with the record for those records not accepted on grounds of identification.
(4) “Pending records” should not be published although potential future additions to the State List may be mentioned within the text of our annual reports.
(5) Committee Members shall follow all Committee decisions in all publications that they author, or annotate any deviations.
(6) Periodically, the Committee shall publish or cause to be published the official California State Bird List, as mandated by Article II, Section G. At a minimum, this list will include a Main List of all accepted species and the Supplemental List of those species “not accepted, natural occurrence questionable” as defined by Article VI, Section G, Paragraph 13. All species on the State List will be annotated to indicate the highest level of documentation supporting their acceptance. Taxa other than species, such as species pairs of superspecies may be added to the Main List by approval of all or all but one voting member at an annual meeting.
As written by Laurence C. Binford, 1985 Vice-Secretary, and the Committee in 1986: Louis R. Bevier, Jon L. Dunn, Richard A. Erickson, Jeri M. Langham, Guy McCaskie, Joseph Morlan, Benjamin D. Parmeter (Secretary), Don Roberson, and Richard W. Stallcup. Adopted 18 January 1986.
Revised by the Committee in 1987: Stephen F. Bailey, Louis R. Bevier, Jon L. Dunn, Richard A. Erickson, Kimball L. Garrett, Jeri M. Langham, Curtis Marantz, Joseph Morlan (Vice-Secretary), Don Roberson (Secretary), and Richard W. Stallcup. Adopted 31 January 1987.
Further revised by the Committee in 1988: Stephen F. Bailey (Vice-Secretary), Louis R. Bevier, Kimball L. Garrett, Jeri M. Langham, Paul E. Lehman, Curtis Marantz, Guy McCaskie, Peter Pyle, Don Roberson (Secretary), and Richard W. Stallcup. Adopted 30 January 1988.
Further revised by the Committee in 1990: Stephen F. Bailey (Vice-Secretary), Louis R. Bevier, Jon L. Dunn, Kimball L. Garrett, Paul E. Lehman, Michael J. Lippsmeyer, Guy McCaskie, Joseph Morlan, Peter Pyle, and Don Roberson (Secretary). Adopted 20 January 1990.
Further revised by the Committee in 1992: Stephen F. Bailey, Jon L. Dunn, Richard A. Erickson, Kimball L. Garrett, Matthew T. Heindel, Paul E. Lehman, Guy McCaskie (Vice-Secretary), Joseph Morlan, and Michael A. Patten (Secretary). Adopted 18 January 1992.
Further revised by the Committee in 1993: Jon L. Dunn, Richard A. Erickson, Matthew T. Heindel, Paul E. Lehman, Guy McCaskie (Vice-Secretary), Joseph Morlan, Michael A. Patten (Secretary), Peter Pyle, Don Roberson, and Scott B. Terrill. Adopted 16 January 1993.
Further revised by the Committee in 1994: Jon L. Dunn, Richard A. Erickson, Shawneen E. Finnegan, Kimball L. Garrett, Matthew T. Heindel (Vice-Secretary), Joseph Morlan, Michael A. Patten (Secretary), Peter Pyle, Don Roberson, and Scott B. Terrill. Adopted 15 January 1994.
Further revised by the Committee in 1996: Richard A. Erickson, Shawneen E. Finnegan, Kimball L. Garrett, Matthew T. Heindel (Vice-Secretary), Steve N. G. Howell, Guy McCaskie, Joseph Morlan, Michael A. Patten (Secretary), Peter Pyle, and Scott B. Terrill. Adopted 13 January 1996
Further revised by the Committee in 1998: Richard A. Erickson (Chair), Kimball L. Garrett, Steve N. G. Howell, Guy McCaskie, Joseph Morlan, Peter Pyle, Stephen C. Rottenborn, Mike San Miguel, Daniel S. Singer, and Scott B.Terrill (Vice Chair). Adopted 17 January 1998.
Further revised by the Committee in 1999: Richard A. Erickson (Chair), Kimball L. Garrett, Matthew T. Heindel (Vice Chair), Guy McCaskie, Joseph Morlan, Stephen C. Rottenborn, Mike San Miguel, Michael M. Rogers (Secretary), Daniel S. Singer. Adopted 16 January 1999.
Further revised by the Committee in 2006: Jon L. Dunn, Kimball L. Garrett, Matthew T. Heindel (Chair), Marshall J. Iliff, Guy McCaskie, Joseph Morlan, Kristie N. Nelson, Peter Pyle, Daniel S. Singer, John C. Sterling, Scott B. Terrill. Adopted 27 January 2006.
Further revised by the Committee in 2008: David M. Compton, Kimball L. Garrett, Alvaro Jaramillo, Guy McCaskie (Secretary), Joseph Morlan (Vice Chair), Kristie N. Nelson, James E. Pike, Peter Pyle, Daniel S. Singer (Chair), Scott B. Terrill. Adopted 19 January 2008.
Further revised by the Committee in 2010: Jon L. Dunn, Paul Lehman (Chair), Guy McCaskie (Secretary), Joseph Morlan, Kristie N. Nelson, James E. Pike, Peter Pyle, Daniel S. Singer (Vice Chair), Brian Sullivan, Jim Tietz. Adopted 9 January 2010.
Further revised by the Committee in 2014: Jon L. Dunn, Guy McCaskie (Secretary), Joseph Morlan (Chair), Kristie N. Nelson, James E. Pike, Peter Pyle, Steve Rottenborn, Adam Searcy, Daniel S. Singer (Vice Chair), Scott Terrill. Adopted 17 January 2014.
Further revised by the Committee in 2015: Brian Daniels, Jon L. Dunn, John Garrett, Guy McCaskie (Secretary), Joseph Morlan (Chair), Peter Pyle, Steve Rottenborn, Adam Searcy, Daniel S. Singer (Vice Chair), Jim Tietz. Adopted 23 January 2015.