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MD/DC Records Committee

Species Sighting Documentation Report

Electronic Lightning Bolt Form

Use this form to send your sighting report directly to the MD/DCRC Secretary. Please be sure to separately send visual documentation to support your submission. If you need more space for any item, use the area under "Additional Comments."

After using all the space provided, if you still need to include additional notes, send another form or send a more detailed hard copy report to the Secretary. A plain text copy of the form is available with the MD/DCRC Documentation Guide. Remember, this form is for reporting rare and reviewable bird species only. We encourage your participation, but please check the review list first, before you send in a report.

Not all these items will be seen or noted, nor are they all necessary to report or correctly identify a species, but not including something you did see may lessen the value of your documentation.

Note: It is best to take and record field notes before consulting field guides. Sketches & photos are encouraged.

See the area below the form for a detailed documentation checklist

Species:  Date(s)/Time(s) Observed:

Submitted By --  Observer's Name:  Today's Date (mm/dd/yy):

Observer's Address:  City:  State:  Zip:

Observer's Telephone Number:  Observer's E-mail Address:

Location (state, county, jurisdiction, city, place, specifics, GPS coordinates, habitat, etc):

Number of birds, sex, age, plumage, morph, etc:

Circumstances of the sighting (who/how encountered/found/identified the bird(s); other species present, etc):

Description (describe the entire bird, as seen, not just key field marks; how were similar species eliminated?):

Behavior (any vocalizations, flight style, feeding, interactions with other species, etc):

Viewing conditions (approximate distance to bird(s), weather conditions, sun angle, optics used, etc):

Observer experience (with this species and in general):

Other observers who saw and/or identified the bird(s):

Additional Comments (were field guides or references used before completing this report? other analysis?):

Will you be sending additional documentation (sketches, photos, videos) directly to the secretary?

Yes No

Send your additional documentation -- preferably via his email address below -- to:

Phil Davis, MD/DCRC Secretary
2549 Vale Court
Davidsonville, MD 21035
(301) 261-0184

Write to the MD/DCRC


If you have difficulty using this form, print out the hard copy version and send it directly to the Records Committee.

Checklist of Points to Include in Reports

Not all these items will be seen or noted, nor are they all necessary to report or correctly identify a species, but not including something you did see may lessen the value of your documentation. Use this checklist as a reminder of items to include in your report.


  • State, county, jurisdiction, city
  • Place name, town, park, address, road intersection, street address, GPS coordinates-if known, etc/li>
  • Habitat description (field, woods, water, plants, etc)

Number of birds, sex, age, plumage, morph, etc:

  • Number of birds
  • Sex by plumage or behavior (male/female) - if known
  • Age by plumage or behavior (e.g., adults, juveniles, etc) - if known
  • Unusual plumages or morphs, etc.

Description (describe the entire bird, not just key field marks) - sketches, even rudimentary, can be very helpful:

  • Which bird family does this individual belong to? Why?
  • How were similar species eliminated, including extralimitals?
  • Plumage (e.g., breeding/winter/juvenile/etc)
  • Overall length, posture, size, shape, structure, bulk
  • Head: shape, colors, pattern (e.g., stripes)
  • Bill: length, shape, color
  • Eye: color, eye ring, eye stripe, eyebrow
  • Upper parts: nape, back, rump
  • Tail: colors, shape, length
  • Legs: color, length, feathering, presence of hind toes (for waterfowl)
  • Underparts: throat, breast, belly, flanks, vent
  • Wings: colors, wingbars, length, wing linings
  • Other characteristics
  • Other birds present? Comparisons?


  • Behaviors observed/interactions with other birds
  • Any voice/vocalizations/songs/calls/how delivered (in flight, perched, etc)
  • Flight patterns, walking, hopping, etc
  • Preening, sleeping, resting, feeding methods

Viewing Conditions:

  • Weather conditions; sky/cloud cover
  • Wind/speed and direction
  • Temperature
  • Precipitation (snow, rain)
  • Water/ice, depth, waves
  • Time of day, length/duration of sighting
  • Was observer stationary/moving, distance to bird
  • Lighting/sun location in relation to observer and the bird/light on the bird
  • Optics used: binoculars/scope; model(s), power
  • Camera, lens used

Observer Experience:

  • Experience with this species and this location; number of years birding

Other Observers:

  • Who saw and/or identified the bird(s)
  • Were photos/videos taken?):

Additional Comments (include additional sheets, if necessary):

  • What parts of the bird couldn't be seen; field marks expected but not seen or variations thereof
  • Which field guide(s) or references were used and when, relative to the observation
  • Description from notes made at the time of sighting, notes made later, from memory?