Bylaws of the Nevada Bird Records Committee
- Major revision September 2001
- Minor revision March 2007 re: voting
- Major revision September 28, 2007
- Minor revision November 18, 2007 re: archives
- Minor revision September 3, 2008 re: introduced species
- Minor revision December 18, 2008 re: voting rules for review list changes
- Major revision September 26, 2009
- Minor revision April 5, 2010 re: "Endorse" replaces "Accept"
- Minor revision September 30, 2011 (residency, dates for review list additions)
- Minor revision September 30, 2013 (review turnaround time, additional review comments)
- Minor revision November 4, 2013 (handling of ties on “returning” vs “continuing” records)
- Minor revision September 27, 2015 (creation of "chairperson" position)
I. Name: The official name of this organization shall be the "Nevada Bird Records Committee", hereafter referred to as the Committee.
A. Evaluate records of occurrence of selected birds within the state of Nevada.
B. Maintain and archive the Committee’s votes and comments.
C. Release for publication at least minimal data on all records receiving a decision.
D. Provide a means by which the records can gain universal acceptance as valuable scientific data.
E. Increase knowledge of the birds of Nevada.
F. Establish standards of observation and reporting against which field observers may compare their own techniques.
G. Keep or cause to be kept the official Nevada State Checklist
Purposes adapted from Western Field Ornithologists (WFO)
III. Definitions and membership:
1: Substantive votes: Votes related specifically to submitted records, inclusion/exclusion of species on checklist/review list, and related topics.
2: Procedural votes: Votes related to organization and process of the committee.
3. Voting Member: Committee member eligible to vote on substantive votes.
4: Chairperson: Voting Member with additional responsibilities as defined below. 5. Secretary: Committee member eligible to vote on procedural votes, but not eligible to vote on substantive votes.
6. Member: Voting Member or Secretary
Unless otherwise specified in the bylaws section relating to any specific vote,
1. For all substantive votes, a quorum of five votes must be cast for the decision to be considered complete.
2. For all procedural votes, a quorum of six votes must be cast for the decision to be considered complete.
C. The Committee shall consist of six Voting Members and one Secretary.
D. Qualifications for Voting Membership:
To be eligible for Voting Membership on the Committee, the candidate must have demonstrated exemplary ability in and knowledge of field identification of birds, possess familiarity with the species and habitats of Nevada, and be active in Nevada birding. Residents of Nevada shall receive preference.
E. Voting Members:
1. The six Voting Members shall serve three-year terms. Voting Members’ terms shall end on December 31 of the year of expiration. If for any reason a voting member is unable to complete his/her term, the secretary, after consultation with other members, shall nominate a replacement. In order to be elected to the committee, the candidate may receive no more than two negative votes. Abstentions are not permitted. Secret balloting is not required, but may be requested by any voter. On election, the replacement Voting Member shall serve the remainder of the former Voting Member’s three-year term.
2. Voting Members may serve up to two consecutive three-year terms, after which they must retire for one year before they may be nominated to serve again. The term of a replacement Voting Member, as described in the preceding subsection, shall not be considered to be a "three-year term" for purposes of this sub-section unless the replacement term exceeds two years.
3. Rules governing re-election to Voting Membership for a current Voting Member:
Definition: voter: for purposes of this subsection of the bylaws, all current Members, including Members whose terms will expire at the end of the present year, but not including the member on whom the vote is being conducted.
Each current Voting Member whose term is expiring at the end of the current year, and who desires and is eligible to serve another term, is subject to an up/down vote. In order to be reappointed, the Voting Member may receive no more than two negative votes. . Quorum for this vote is defined as ‘all current Members’ except the member upon whom the vote is being conducted. Except as describe above, abstentions are not permitted. Secret balloting is not required, but may be requested by any voter.
4. Rules governing nomination and election to open Voting Membership positions:
Definition: voter: for purposes of this subsection of the bylaws, all current Members, including Members whose terms will expire at the end of the present year.
Definition: quorum for this procedure: quorum for the votes in this section defined as "all current Members".
a. Any Member may nominate any qualified person as a candidate. It will be the responsibility of the Member to provide to the secretary a statement about the candidate’s qualifications.
b. All nominated candidates’ names and qualifications will be presented to the membership for two rounds of voting. Secret balloting is not required, but may be requested by any voter.
i. Round one will consist of a simple yes/no vote. Any candidate receiving less than a majority vote (based on the total membership -- i.e., an abstention counts as a "no" vote) will be removed from the candidate list. Those candidates receiving a majority vote will be considered the "approved pool".
ii. Round two will consist of a ranking of those candidates in the "approved pool". Each Member will cast a "numbered" vote for each candidate. Numbers will be from 1 to n, where n is the number of candidates in the "approved pool". Casting a "1" for a candidate means that the member considers that candidate to be his/her favorite choice among the candidates. Casting the number n for a candidate means that the member considers that candidate to be his/her least favorite choice among the candidates. No member may cast the same numbered vote more than once.
c. The secretary will total the votes. The candidate whose total is lowest will be the top candidate, the candidate receiving the second lowest total will be next, progressing to the candidate whose total is highest, who will be the bottom candidate. (See below for handling of tie vote totals.)
d. Beginning with the top candidate, the secretary will then consult with that candidate to see if he/she desires to serve on the committee. If the answer is "yes", that candidate will be appointed to the committee. If the answer is "no", the secretary will move to the next candidate in ranking order and repeat the process. That process then continues until all open positions are filled or until there are no more candidates. If the number of willing candidates is fewer than the number of open positions, the entire election process (beginning with nominations from the members) will begin again for the remaining open positions.
e. Handling of tie votes: This procedure ensures that the only situation in which a tie vote could be an issue occurs when that tie is for candidates for the last open position. In that case, a simple run-off vote will be held.
1: At the discretion of the secretary, and with the consent of a majority of the Members, a Chairperson may be appointed from among the Voting Members.
2: In addition to the normal duties of a Voting Member, the duties of the Chairperson will be negotiated between the Secretary and the Chairperson on an "as needed" basis. Typical duties could include one or more of the following:3: An appointment as chairperson could come at any time during an active Voting Member's term. The term of the Chairperson appointment would then correspond to the remaining portion of the Voting Member's term.
a. Jointly with the Secretary, or individually by the Chairperson, preparation of the NBRC Annual Report, including the shepherding of the report through the peer review process.
b. Preparation for and conduct of the biennial meeting.
c. Taking of, or providing for the taking of, minutes at the biennial meeting.
d. Procurement of additional data on records when deemed desirable, especially when a record is to come up for discussion at a biennial meeting or has been selected for reconsideration.
e. Representation of the NBRC at various events, e.g., WFO Meeting. This could include presentations at these events.
f. Additional duties as called for and agreed upon.
4: At the end of that Voting Member's term, the Secretary may ask the Chairperson to serve another term as Chairperson. If the Chairperson agrees to that request, the election of that Chairperson to an additional term as Voting Member would also be considered to be the consent of the Members for that person to serve as Chairperson for that term. For any Voting Member serving as Chairperson, the normal Voting Member term limitations shall be suspended.
The Secretary must have an avid interest in birds and birding in Nevada, must possess reasonable familiarity with the status and distribution of the birds of Nevada, must possess reasonable familiarity with the birding community of Nevada, and must possess strong organizational skills.
2: Secretary may serve any number of consecutive three-year terms.
3. Rules governing re-election of current Secretary will be exactly as described for rules governing re-election to Voting Membership for a current Voting Member. As in those rules, the person up for re-election is not eligible to vote.
4: Rules governing election to open Secretary position: Rules are analogous to those covering election to open Voting Member position.
a. Make available to all birders directions for submitting record reports to the Committee.
b. Receive, circulate, and file all bird records and supporting data submitted to the Committee.
c. Attempt to procure additional data on records when either the secretary or a voting member deems such additional data necessary.
d. Tabulate results of all votes of the Committee.
e. Maintain, or cause to be maintained, the complete archives of the NBRC. Archives may be maintained in original format or in electronic format or both.
f. Notify submitter of Committee receipt of records and ultimate action in a timely manner.
g. Keep current or cause to be kept current the NBRC Nevada Review List and the NBRC Nevada State Checklist.
IV. Bird Records:
For the purpose of this Committee and these bylaws, a "record" is considered to be written documentation submitted to the Committee as evidence of the identity of a seen, heard, audio or video taped, collected, banded, or photographed bird. Observers will be encouraged to include photographs, sketches, field notes, and tapes. Whenever possible, observers will be encouraged to submit all documentation electronically through internet procedures established by the Committee.
B. Records Treated:
1. Only records from the State of Nevada will be treated. The NBRC encourages submission of records that predate the formation of the NBRC especially if there are fewer than five documented records.
2. The birds to be reviewed will consist of species that:
a. are not on the Nevada State Checklist,
b. are on the Nevada Review List
3. Procedures for modification of Nevada Checklist and Nevada Review List are documented elsewhere in these by-laws.
4. Records based on specimens or banded birds will be accepted and treated in the same manner as other records.
5. For taxa that have ever been considered full species by the American Ornithological Union, or are currently considered full species by other national or international ornithological societies, the committee may choose to review records for those taxa even though other conspecifics are not rare in Nevada. (Example: "Eurasian" Green-winged Teal.)
Records may be submitted either by conventional mail of physical documents, drawings, notes, photos, etc. or by e-mail of electronic representations of documents, drawing, notes, photos, etc.. Records may be submitted on the Committee's official form, "Nevada Documentation of Significant Bird Sighting" form or in other formats which, while not following the exact format of the Committee's official form, contain substantially the same information as that required by the official form. When the Committee's official form is not used, the secretary will determine on a case-by-case basis whether the submission contains sufficient information to be forwarded to the committee for consideration or whether additional documentation should be requested.
D. Reconsideration of previously completed records
Any record, whether endorsed or not endorsed, and even if published, may be brought up for reconsideration by any Member if and only if there becomes available new and substantial documentary evidence that might affect the decision. The Secretary, in consultation with the other members, shall have discretion to determine whether or not the requirements for reconsideration have been met. The procedure for review of such a reconsidered record is substantially different from that which covers initial circulations.
1. The Secretary shall circulate the record, accompanied by all previous votes and comments by the Committee, the publication status of the record, and all new evidence, clearly marked as new evidence.
2. Unlike initial circulations, Voting Members are permitted and encouraged to discuss the record.
3. For a record which was previously endorsed:
a. When feasible, the original submitter of the record will be notified that the record is being reconsidered and the submitter will be given an opportunity to see the new evidence and to submit his/her own additional documentation.
b. A single circulation round will be held. In order to overturn a previously endorsed record, there can be no more than one vote against overturning the record.
4. For a record which was previously not endorsed:
a. There is no requirement to contact the original submitter until after a decision is reached, unless there is need for additional information.
b. A single circulation round will be held. However, other than the stipulation that there will be only a single round, the voting rules for endorsement will be exactly as for an ordinary circulation. Discussion among Voting Members is permitted and encouraged.
E. Circulation Procedures:
1. Initial receipt by Secretary: Upon receipt of a record, the Secretary shall:
a. Affix to the record a unique number, consisting of the year of the receipt (not the year of the sighting) followed by a hyphen and the next unused number, starting with a "001" for that year. If a record is represented by descriptions from more than one person, each description should receive the same number and be annotated to indicate that it is an additional description. The Secretary will notify the submitter(s) in a timely manner that the record has been received.
b. Record in a safe place at least the name of the submitter, the name of the bird species, the date and locality of the record, and the record number.
c. Check the description for completeness and clarity, and if deemed desirable, request additional information from the submitter or other observers. Details thus acquired must be clearly marked as such and kept separate from the original submission. The original submission should not be returned to the submitter except in copy form.
d. That record and its supporting data, along with other current records if applicable, will then be made available to each member, along with an NBRC Review Form for each record. NBRC Review Forms must include the record identifier. Multiple records sent together will be considered a "Packet". Packets will be uniquely identified with the letter "P" plus the year, a hyphen, and the next unused packet number, starting with "01" for that year.
e. Packets may be distributed via electronic means or through conventional mail.
2. Receipt by Member: Upon receipt of a copy of a record, the Member should:
a. Judge its validity and vote within six weeks.
b. Return the completed NBRC Review Form to the Secretary. If the record was received electronically, the form should be returned to the Secretary electronically.
Note: Members who will not be reachable by e-mail for extended periods should report that information to the Secretary.
a. NBRC Review Forms:
The vote of each Voting Member, together with his/her comments if any, must be submitted on an official review form. This form must include spaces for at least the following:
name of species
name of Committee Member
date of review
Committee Member’s decision
b. Voting Categories:
Not endorse, identification not established
Not endorse, origin questionable
Abstentions are permitted only in situations where the member feels that voting on a record would constitute a significant ethical conflict. Members are expected to vote on their own submissions. Should a member feel that he/she lacks sufficient knowledge about a particular species, that member should use whatever resources he/she can obtain, including printed matter, internet publications, personal communication with any non-Voting Members (or with other Voting Members on additional rounds), etc., to gather sufficient information on which to base a judgment. (See 3. e)
d. Comments: On the initial circulation, a "not endorse" vote must be supported by appropriate comments. On that initial circulation, an "endorse" vote may be supported by appropriate comments. On recirculations, either a "not endorse" or an "endorse" vote must be supported by comments. After a review has been delivered to the secretary, a member may add additional comments if they desire to do so. Those comments must be flagged as having been added after the review.
e: Consultations: On the first circulation a Voting Member should not discuss a record with another Voting Member prior to both having voted. On additional circulations, however, pre-vote discussions between and among Voting Members are acceptable and encouraged. On either circulation, a Voting Member may consult anyone other than another Voting Member before voting.
f: Voting Criteria: The criteria used by a Voting Member for endorsement or non-endorsement of a record are an individual matter and should not be treated by these guidelines, with one exception: in all votes, "identification not established" should take precedence over "origin questionable".
g: Retiring Members: A circulation in progress at the time that a Voting Member’s term ends should be completed by the retiring Member, if possible. Subsequent circulations, and hence in some cases final voting, should be completed by the new Voting Member.
h: Tabulation: The voting results are tabulated by the Secretary after all the Voting Members have voted.
i: Decision from Circulation:
(1) Record endorsed: no more than one "not endorse" vote. However, for any record receiving one "not endorse" vote, the member who voted not to endorse may, at his/her discretion, request a recirculation to permit his/her voting comments (and any other voting comments submitted) to be viewed by other members. Obviously, this should be used only in those situations where the member who voted not to endorse considers his/her reasons to contain highly significant information that other members could not have been expected to know.
(2) Record is considered "not endorsed" if the total number of "not endorse" votes is 4, 5, or 6 for circulations with six votes cast, or 3, 4, or 5 for circulations with five votes cast.
(3) Record to be recirculated: Any vote neither "endorsed" nor "not endorsed".
(4) Any initial-circulation non-endorsed record that received two or more "not endorse, identification not established" votes is considered as "not endorsed, identification not established". All other initial-circulation non-endorsed records are considered "not endorsed, origin questionable".
(5) For second or third round circulations, as described in previous subsection, except that in such recirculations, it is possible for a record to be non-endorsed with only two total "not endorse" votes. In that case, one or more votes based on questionable identification will be sufficient to consider the non-endorsement to be based on identification.
a. Unless initially endorsed or not endorsed, a record shall be re-circulated, together with the votes cast and comments of every member from the original evaluation, for a new judgment.
b. If, on the second round, there is no change in the vote totals, or if the number of "not endorse" votes increases, the record shall be considered "not endorsed."
c. If, on the second round, there is an increase in the number of "endorse" votes, but the record has still not reached the level necessary for endorsement, the record shall be circulated for a third and final round. In that third round, if the record again fails to reach the level necessary for endorsement, it shall be considered "not endorsed."
d. All decisions are final unless a record is to be "reconsidered" (See IV. D. Reconsideration of previously completed records)
a. The decisions of the Committee shall be provided for publication to the Western Field Ornithologists journal "Western Birds" under the authorship of the Secretary (and/or other members at the discretion of the Secretary) in the form of an annual report.
b. The published data for endorsed records shall include at least the name of the species, date(s) of observation, locality, name(s) of submitter(s), NBRC vote totals, and whether or not photographed. Other data may be added at the discretion of the Secretary and/or other Members.
c. Non-endorsed records shall also be published, with the data specified in the preceding paragraph, except that the submitter name(s) shall not be included.
d. Periodically, the decisions of the Committee may be reported to the editors of other journals who indicate a willingness to publish the data.
e. An on-line, publicly accessible, directory of all pending, endorsed and non-endorsed records shall be maintained on a website devoted to Committee business. As with records published in journals, the submitter’s name(s) shall only be included for endorsed records.
F. Retraction of submitted records
1. The submitter of any record may request that his/her submission be retracted. The request will be granted if:
a. the request is made prior to the completion of the record review process,
b. the submitter is the only person who has provided a submission for that record. In any case where condition 1 is met but condition 2 is not, the portion of the record provided by the requester can be removed from the record, at the discretion of the Secretary.
2. Retracted records will be purged from the NBRC database.
G. Records considered to represent returning or continued occurrences of the same individual as one previously reviewed:
1. Determination that a new record represents a returning or continued occurrence of a previously reviewed record shall be by majority of members voting, or by plurality should three considerations be involved ("new", "returning", "continued"). This vote may occur during the review process at the discretion of the secretary, or it may require an additional special circulation whose only purpose will be determination of returning or continued occurrence if requested by any voting member. However, in order to formally recognize a record as a returning or continued occurrence, both the current and former record must have received the same decision, i.e., endorse, not endorse (identification not established), not endorse (origin questionable).
2. In the case where the vote on “new”, “returning”, “continued” ends in a tie, there will be an additional circulation round handling only that issue. Should that additional round fail to break the tie, the decision will be as follows:
a. A tie vote in the additional review round between “returning” and “new” will result in the two records being considered “new”, i.e., each will maintain its own record number with no appended additional designation.
b. A tie vote in the additional review round between “continued” and “new” will result in the two records being considered to represent the same individual, and the procedure specified below in bullet 4 will apply.
c. A tie vote in the additional review round between “continued” and “returning” will result in the record being considered “returning” and the procedure specified below in bullet 3 will apply.
d. In the event of a three-way tie between all options in the additional review round, the issue will be left unresolved until the next committee meeting.
3. For any record determined to represent a returning occurrence, that record shall retain its regular assigned NBRC Identification Number, but the letter "R" shall be appended to the record number for the additional occurrence. The official database entry for returning records shall be annotated with the specifics of the determination, and the web record display will provide the NBRC Identification Number for the record for which the current record is presumed to be a returning occurrence.
4. For records where the occurrence is determined to be a continuing individual (as opposed to one which has left Nevada and returned at some subsequent time), the two (or more) such records shall be handled by combining the records into a single numbered record, using the ID Number of the earliest record.
5. Should the voting members decide by vote that a record represents a returning or continued occurrence of a previous record, but the decision on endorsement differs for the two records, the records will not be combined or designated as a returning occurrence. However, on recommendation from any member, the related record shall be re-considered following the voting rules specified in section IV D (Reconsideration of previously completed records.)
V. Changes to State Checklist and State Review List
A. State Checklist
1. Any endorsement by the Committee of a record for a species not currently on the State Checklist shall immediately cause that species to be added to the State Checklist.
2. For any species currently on the checklist, if any member feels that the species should be removed from the Checklist, that member may forward a motion for removal to the Secretary. It is the responsibility of that member to provide written justification for the removal of the species. The Secretary will forward the motion, along with its attendant documentation of justification, to all Members. A vote to remove any species from the checklist will require that there be no more than one negative vote.
3. Process and standards for adding introduced species to the Checklist:
a. If any Member feels that an introduced/re-introduced species should be added to the Checklist, that member may forward a motion for addition to the Secretary. It is the responsibility of that member to provide written justification for the addition of the species. The Secretary will forward the motion, along with its attendant documentation of justification, to all Voting Members. A vote to add any species to the checklist will require that there be no more than one negative vote.
b. To be placed on the Checklist, a species must:
(i) have bred in the state for fifteen (15) consecutive years,
(ii) in general, be increasing or stabilized after an initial period of increase,
(iii) be judged to have occupied all geographically contiguous suitable habitat to such a degree as to sustain the population and be thought unlikely to significantly diminish,
(iv) occupy an environment judged similar enough in ecological factors (e.g., climate, vegetation, food, shelter, competitors, predators) to the species’ natural habitat, or to other successful introductions, that permanent establishment seems likely, and
(v) not require ongoing supplemental releases to sustain the population. (Supplemental releases of game birds would not disqualify a species for inclusion on the Checklist, but the committee must find that the population is not dependent on those supplemental releases for its continued existence.)
4. Changes to the State Checklist necessitated by lumps or splits published by the AOU will be handled as follows:
a. Any lump will be updated in the checklist by removing those entries no longer considered to be full species (and changing names as required).
b. If a species is split, the secretary will consult the Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Nevada to determine if any of the newly determined species are established as breeders within the state. If so, they will be added to the checklist. For newly determined species which are not established breeders in the state, wherever possible, the secretary will determine to which of the newly determined species our currently endorsed records pertain and will update the Checklist accordingly. For newly determined species which cannot be definitively determined to breed in the state or to have records which have been previously endorsed by the NBRC, those newly determined species will be treated by following rule V.A.1 above.
5. If a reconsideration of a previously endorsed record results in non-endorsement for that record, and if that record is the only record justifying inclusion of the species on the State Checklist, that species will be removed from the checklist.
6. Changes to the State Checklist should be communicated to the birders of Nevada and to all other interested parties in a timely manner. At a minimum, changes must be published on the website hosting the State Checklist and in Great Basin Birds, and applicable parties at the American Birding Association must be notified.
B. State Review List
1. Addition or removal of any species to/from the official State Review List, or change to the "exemption" status of any species, may be initiated at any time by any Member. The Member should forward to the Secretary a motion to add/remove the species or change the "exemption" status. That motion must be accompanied by written justification for the action.
2. Addition or removal of any species to/from the official State Review List, or change to the regional "exemption" status of any species on the Review List, will be approved if the motion receives no more than one negative vote from the Voting Membership of the committee.
3. Any addition to the official State Review List which involves a species already on the State Checklist (as opposed to additions to the Review List necessitated by addition of a species to the Checklist) shall be accompanied by a vote to determine whether newly submitted records for the species will be limited to sightings occurring after the addition to the Review List was approved. If the Voting Members decide that pre-addition records should not be reviewed, a further vote may be held to determine whether some specific date other than the date on which the species was added should be used as the cut-off date for newly submitted records. A simple majority of votes cast will be sufficient to endorse each motion.
4. For removal of "exemption" status, or limitations to currently existing "exemption" status, the default position will be that only records for sightings occurring after the date of the change will be reviewed. However, a further vote may be held to determine whether some specific date other than the date on which the change was approved should be used as the cut-off date for newly submitted records. A simple majority of votes cast will be sufficient to endorse this motion.
Neither the Secretary nor any other Member shall receive compensation for Committee work.
VII. Amendments to these Bylaws:
Since the Committee is autonomous, it may amend these bylaws as necessary. All amendments (other than grammatical/editorial changes) must be distributed to all Members. The amendment shall be considered approved if it receives no more than two negative votes.