REPORT A RARITY
The EBRC exists so that ornithologists and interested amateurs can use the UAE records as a reliable reference, knowing that they are supported with documentation and that they have been carefully screened. For this reason alone the EBRC strive to be as fastidious as possible in judging records.
The list of rare birds to be reported to the EBRC generally complies with the following guidelines;
Less than 20 accepted records exist.
Some difficult-to-identify species like Lesser Spotted Eagle, Little & Baillon's Crake and Hume's Whitethroat will stay on the list longer.
For species not on this list, and if one member of the EBRC feel that evidence should be provided for a particular record, then the observer is contacted and asked for a Rare Bird Report to be submitted.
Rare Bird Report form
If you are preparing to submit a Rare Bird Report (RBR), a full list of the species currently requiring descriptions can be viewed here.
A Rare Bird Report in MS Word format can be downloaded here.
EBRC have implemented a regular assessment timetable, with two assessment periods in a year:
October to March records (and any others received from earlier that missed the previous circulation): circulated in April, with decisions published May - June.
April to September records (and any others received from earlier that missed the previous circulation): circulated in October, with decisions published November - December.
Obviously, we are happy to receive records at any time but we try to guarantee that we publish decisions twice a year, at the times noted above. The above timings allow us to publish promptly and regularly in the From the Rarities Committees section of the biannual OSME journal Sandgrouse as well as, of course, on this website. This means that if you have any submissions outstanding, we would be grateful to receive them at the latest by the end of March or the end of September, so that we can include them in the next assessment batch at the start of the following month.
Decisions from the EBRC on rare birds can be downloaded from the box to the right.
- Note: all records marked Not submitted! will not appear in the UAE Bird Database nor on
the Club 300 page until formally submitted and Accepted by the EBRC or photos are available
and leaves no doubt of the identity.
Policy on assessing the origin of EBRC description species
Assessing the origin of many species of birds that turn up in the UAE is sometimes just as difficult as assessing their identity.
EBRC does not have detailed information on all species kept in captivity or traded in the UAE and quite often have to make difficult decisions on the origin of species recorded in the country that are potential vagrants but which, equally, are potential escapes. It is rare for a decision to be made with the complete confidence that all necessary knowledge is to hand. For that reason, decisions by EBRC on the origin of birds occurring in the UAE are almost invariably finely-balanced judgment calls rather than decisions made with confidence.
The following criteria set out the guidelines that EBRC consider when trying to decide if a record can be assigned reasonably likely as being of wild origin and hence (in the relatively few cases in which the species has not been recorded before) admitted to Category A of the UAE list. This is certainly a lower threshold of proof than ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ which is the minimum degree of confidence sought when confirming the identification of species submitted for assessment. However, if ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ was to be applied to origin, hardly any species that are potential escapes would be accepted as wild, even though those species are also potential vagrants.
In general, a species is regarded as of wild origin by the committee unless it meets one or more of the following criteria.
In some cases, meeting one of the following criteria will not automatically mean a record is assigned to the category of dubious origin. But a species that simultaneously meets several (two or more) of the following criteria is probably unlikely to be regarded as wild.
- There are obvious signs that the species may well have been in captivity. These could include, but are not limited to, exceptional tameness, damaged or soiled plumage, a state of moult that would not be expected at that time of year and, of course, a ring.
- The species is an extremely unlikely vagrant i.e. a resident or short-distance migrant with no known records from neighbouring countries.
- It is known that the species is traded, either commonly or rarely in the pet trade or otherwise kept in captivity in the UAE.
- The species is known to occur in nearby countries where we know bird-trapping and subsequent trading in the UAE is (or is likely to be) taking place. Examples would include Pakistan (large falcons) and Saudi Arabia (Violet-backed Starling).
- It is understood that the species could quite easily be kept in captivity and transported from overseas (for example a bunting that can be fed on seeds, as opposed to a shrike).
- The record occurs at a time of year that would be regarded as rather unusual for wild vagrancy. Examples of this could include wildfowl that turn up in mid-summer or, rather less conclusively, a vagrant raptor or thrush from southern Asia that is found in late spring as opposed to late autumn to early winter. However, EBRC also (of course) understands that no hard or fast rules can be applied in this area and that, with changing climates and increasingly extreme weather events, species may be increasingly likely to occur naturally at unexpected times of year.
- The record occurs at a location that is a known release site or is close to an area where it is likely that there are captive birds that could escape. Obvious locations that the committee is particularly wary of include Saih al Salam–Al Qudra, Ra’s al Khor, Dubai and the proximity of palaces and zoos anywhere. EBRC are, of course, well aware that some of these sites also have an excellent track record of producing rare birds as well!
- EBRC acknowledges that adult birds are perfectly plausible as vagrants and a proportion of genuine vagrants are adults; however, 1cy or 2cy birds are much more likely as vagrants and hence age can be used in support of a wild origin in certain cases.
The above statements should be seen as guidelines only and certainly not hard and fast rules. These are the sorts of issues that EBRC take into consideration when deciding on origin. We welcome comments from any interested parties that will help us refine or better inform our current approach.
EBRC, Updated July 2019.