[Tweeters] Another example video of an Eyebrowed Thrush

johntubbs at comcast.net johntubbs at comcast.net
Mon Feb 15 10:12:46 PST 2016


Hi Houston and all,

Houston - thanks for a really great and relevant post! I figured my last post was going to be it (barring another sighting or photo) except for private replies but this is a great catalyst for some more reflection and clarification on my part that will hopefully be of interest to other list members.

First off, every reply that I've received has been constructive, helpful, supportive, positive or some combination thereof, which has been great. My defensiveness has really been self-imposed, driven by my desire to keep what I think/hope is a positive reputation within the birding community for highly accurate reporting. (Everyone probably knows the old saw which I ascribe to - 'Good reputations are hard to build and easy to lose.') When I saw 'my' bird, I was completely convinced it was not an unusual robin - and as anybody who has been through the master birder program knows, one thing Dennis Paulson drills into your head is that there is MUCH more variation between individuals within a species than can ever be shown in a field guide or even a good collection of skins. So when watching the bird, I kept comparing my notes with the 'could it really be a robin' mental check. I was completely convinced it had to be something else. And ironically, I think the fact that I had no idea what the something else could have been actually helped with objectivity because I wasn't trying to 'turn it into something else' that I already had hypothesized. It was only when researching other thrush species that an illustration of the EYTH hit me over the head as being the bird. I never thought to look on YouTube and the video Houston linked to here makes me even more certain that is what I saw.

The other key fact was that I didn't see any dang 'weird robin' in the area at that time. So I go ahead and make the report to eBird and later to Tweeters and head out to the site Saturday morning. As expected many of the regional heavy hitter gurus are there cameras and scopes in hand. And...along comes Mr. Obvious Eyebrow Weird Robin. The minute I looked at it I thought two things - 1.) That ain't the bird. 2.) Some (or God forbid many) of the other observers on hand are going to automatically think that's what I saw. Houston's description of the inconvenient Brown Pelican sighting following his Brown Booby sighting is perfectly analogous to my angst at this situation.

I must say despite my worries about reputation this has overall been a positive learning experience despite already having a pretty substantial serious birding background, and is hopefully educational to those newer to our sport.

As a final note, in all honesty I don't know if I will make an official report to the WBRC if no one else turns up the bird (my first step would be to consult Dennis for his advice). Even though I'm positive about what I saw, human perception is an interesting field of study. There are well-documented cases of eyewitnesses to crimes in which multiple people are absolutely positive about what they saw and yet their accounts differ significantly. All the training and experience I've had tells me one thing and there isn't the adrenaline of a crime scene here, but...

One private reply I got talked about the WBRC bar being quite high 'as it should be' in a situation like this and I totally agree with that.

Thanks again to all who replied both on the list and privately!


John Tubbs
Lacey, WA





----- Original Message -----

From: "Houston Flores" <houstonflores at hotmail.com>
To: "twee ters" <tweeters at u.washington.edu>
Sent: Monday, February 15, 2016 8:36:06 AM
Subject: [Tweeters] Another example video of an Eyebrowed Thrush

Tweets,

That last video link (sent by barnowl635) is to a male Eyebrowed Thrush. Here is a link to a video of some females, for comparison.

http://youtu.be/cGBX_AFkrT8

This species has fairly strong sexual dimorphism and it sounds to me like Mr. Tubb's bird is a female. Note the pale throat and malar stripe.

As a side note, I am following this undocumented rarity with some personal interest. Back in 2005, I too observed a rare bird (Brown Booby in Bellingham Bay) and was unable to document it. The sighting was vigorously questioned ("Are you sure it wasn't a Brown Pelican?) and it was a stressful experience defending my observation. It didn't help that a Brown Pelican was spotted near where I had my observation the next day! Luckily a Brown Booby was spotted and photographed in the San Juans a week later, which confirmed ( to me) my sighting. This event was the catalyst for me purchasing a video camera which I try to bring with me on all outings.

So I totally understand what Mr. Tubbs is going through and while I think it is important to question all undocumented observations (even documented ones for that matter) I think it is also important to remember to question with politeness and civility!

As a final note, for those who have not tried it - in a pinch, you can hold up your cell phone to your binoculars and (with practice) you can take a decent picture that may not be print worthy but it can at least aid in the identification of a bird!

Good migrations!

Houston Flores
Seattle
houstonflores AT hotmail

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