Friday, August 25, 2006

The Value of Field Notes

A most interesting and insightful discussion erupted recently on the ID-Frontiers listserv about the value of field notes relative to still photos or video for documenting occurrences of rare birds. Initiated by Clay Taylor on August 21 (scroll to entries filed under An alternative to field notes? here), the discussion continued for several days (see entries filed under An alternative field notes, An alternative to field notes – Committee vs Courts, An alternative to field notes?, An alternative to field notes? Correction, Descriptions and Photos, Field notes vs. photos – trustworthy?, Identification fraud, and Observation and Photography here).

The taking of good field notes while in the field is not something that comes naturally to most people. It is definitely an art that must be learned and practiced repeatedly. Here are a few useful online documents that will help you hone your skills.

Bird Division Field Notes and Records (by Janet Hinshaw) – This database from the University of Michigan Museum of Zoology illustrates the archival value of field notes.

Documenting a Rare Bird Sighting (by Peter Burke on behalf of the Ontario Bird Records Committee)

Emerging from the Silent Majority: Documenting Rarities (by Claudia Wilds and Robert Hilto)

Field Notebook Primer: How to Take Good Field Notes (by Robert B. Payne) – From the dean of Michigan ornithologists.

Field Note Scavenger Hunt (a lesson plan by Jim Johnson) – Teaching students the importance of careful observation and recording.

Hardcore Field Notes for the Serious Naturalist (by Sheldon Greaves)

How to Document Rare Birds (by Donna L. Dittman and Greg W. Lasley) – Originally published in Birding 24:145-159, 1992.

How to Write Convincing Details (by Mike Patterson)

"Grinell" Method – An illustration of the classic method developed by Joseph Grinnell at the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology of the University of California—Berkeley.

Joseph Grinnell’s Field Notes (from the archives at the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology of the University of California—Berkeley) – Excerpts from the 1919 field season.

On Taking a Notebook Afield (by Claudia Wilds)

Taking Good Field Notes: Minimum Considerations for Verification of Sight Records of Birds (by Charles R. Smith) – Includes an extensive bibliography.


Blogger Bill Pulliam said...

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August 27, 2006 4:41 PM  

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