The Long-billed Murrelet Quandry or "Would you Count it?"

Well, I was there. And I most certainly saw an alcid. Could have been a murrelet. Definitely not a Razorbill. Hmm… So is this the record that I put on my life list? It seems questionable, for all I know, I could have seen a Marbled Murrelet. But most of the people there were looking at a Red-throated Loon and will probably mark it down as a lb murrelet. Does that justify my tick? Anyways, the wind was ridiculously strong and the surf rough which made seeing any bird well almost impossible. If you were in this situation would you record it or not. Please leave me a comment about what you would do!


2 Responses

  1. If you’re satisfied that you saw the murrelet, you should count it.

    When I’m with a group and someone else IDs a bird for me, if I see it, I count it. This is whether I could make the ID myself or not. On the other hand, when I’m on my own or the authority in the group (a scary prospect) I have a higher standard for whether I can count it or not.

    In your case, if I saw the alcid and the alcid was identified as a Long-billed Murrelet, it would be on my list. If I waited until I could pick out a rarity like that in open water in the Northeast, I’d be waiting a long time to count the bird.

  2. Two years ago, I “saw” a Yellow-billed Loon on Lake Superior. The bird was very far from the shore and tough to see on the choppy water. I could tell it was a loon, but it was not possible to ID to species at that distance. (It had previously been closer to shore.)

    That bird did not make it onto my life list.

    When deciding whether to add a bird to my list, I often ask myself this question: “If I never had a chance to see this species again, would I really be satisfied with that encounter?” If the answer is no, it generally doesn’t make it onto my list, even if it hurts.

    I wouldn’t mind listing something someone else IDed first, but I must experience the bird for myself.

    But, not everyone agrees. As we said in Papua New Guinea, “Laik bilong yu!”

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