Purpose and Operation of the Committee

The CBRC’s original purpose involved promoting proper documentation of sight-only records of birds well out of their normal range, establishing a framework for peer review of those records, publishing the results of the Committee’s deliberations in an ornithological journal, and archiving the documentation and review comments for posterity. The Committee increasingly evaluates records that are substantiated with photographs, videos, audio recordings, or other physical evidence—an advancement that we strongly support. Currently, the CBRC maintains the California Bird List (Table C, page 12) and solicits documentation pertaining to sightings of (a) species not accepted on the California Bird List and (b) species on the Committee’s Review List (indicated with an asterisk [*] in the California Bird List), which generally average four or fewer occurrences per year in the state. The CBRC also assesses the status of non-native species that may become established in the state and determines when such species should be added to the California Bird List.

Records typically circulate through the CBRC via the mail (sometimes via e-mail) and are voted on by each member in turn. A record is accepted if it receives (a) no more than one “not accept” vote on grounds of questionable identification or (b) not more than two “not accept” votes on grounds of questionable natural occurrence. Depending on the level of support it receives, a record may circulate through the Committee up to four times, with members viewing each others’ votes and accompanying written comments starting with the second round of circulation. Records not decided by the end of the third round of voting are brought to the next annual meeting for further discussion prior to a final circulation. A species of uncertain natural occurrence in California is admitted to the Supplemental List if a record of the species (endorsed by the Committee as having been correctly identified) receives a majority vote to accept, or if a majority of members at a meeting votes in favor of placing the species on the Supplemental List. These processes are described in greater detail in the CBRC Bylaws (Appendix A; http://wfo-cbrc.org).

The CBRC’s decisions are published annually in Western Birds, the journal of Western Field Ornithologists. For each record, all voting forms and documentation (notes, photographs, videos, audio recordings, etc.) are archived at the Western Foundation of Vertebrate Zoology in Camarillo, California (http://wfvz.org).

Following are Table A, “Meetings of the California Bird Records Committee, 1967–2007” and Table B, “Membership of the California Bird Records Committee, 1970–2007.”