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Context, Context, Context - tips for a better Bird ID Q&A

Posted Thursday 6th September 2007 at 20:56 by Chris Benesh
Hi All,

I was wondering what would be a good topic to bring up on my new Birdforum blog. Well, a persusal today through my favorite part of the site, the Bird Identification Q&A, made me think of something. What exactly are we trying to achieve when we post photos and answer questions to this sub-forum? Are we trying to make it into a challenging quiz, or are we really trying our best to get a species identified? I would think that it is generally the latter, right?

So here's my plea. Whenever possible, it would be nice to include some pertinent detail about the bird that's not readily evident from the image itself. For example, "the bird in the picture was giving a loud 'whoop, whoop' sound and did a triple back flip while I was watching it breaking open clam shells."

I get a great deal of fun out of helping others identify birds. But I am really trying to help, and sometimes a little more attention paid to details outside of the photo can really aid the cause.

Some helpful tips (partial list) for those posting questions:

- How was it behaving?

- How big was it? Take its picture alongside some other recognizable species. This works great for shorebirds, gulls, terns, etc...

- Was it vocalizing? If so, what did it sound like - even if in crude terms.

- Did I notice any plumage features that are not evident in the photo(s)? What are they?

Some helpful tips for those answering questions:

- Unless the poster just wants a quick answer, it's always nice to provide at least a modicum of detail if no one else has. This is especially true if several before you have all agreed it's a Bird X, but no one has provided any reason why. It's just an easy way to make the forum a lot more educational for everybody.

Now, off the soapbox and back to the forum...


Chris
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Henstooth's Avatar
I like to have a look to see if I can indeed ID the bird myself or at least have a guess. What's best is that I get to learn a lot too, especially if the sender has put in a lot of extra detail so I get to pick up valuable information. I have read some threads that have broken down into snipes between people and it does seem like one-up-manship. I have to say though, there are some people who really know their stuff.
Posted Wednesday 1st April 2009 at 05:13 by Henstooth Henstooth is offline
 
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