ARCC- working hard on behalf of your list!

The ARCC - an eclectic mix of strange jizz, varying age classes and eccentric moult patterns. Back - (from l to r): Greg Hanisek (Secretary), Dave Provencher, Frank Mantlik, Dave Tripp. front - (from l to r): Jay Kaplan (Chairman), Julian Hough, Janet Mehmel and Nick Bonomo. (Frank Gallo and Mark Szantyr absent)

This past week, the Avian Records Committee of Connecticut (ARCC) met at The Yale  Peabody Museum, New Haven, CT for one of it’s annual meetings to review bird record submissions for acceptance into the state’s historical record. We were hosted by Jacob M. who kindly allowed us access to the fantastic resource of skins and specimens at the museum. And, I finally got to see Ivory-billed Woodpecker..mothballs and all!

What does the ARCC do? The committee maintains the official Connecticut State list of bird species acceptably documented as occurring, or having occurred, in Connecticut. It also maintains and publishes a Review List of species of rare annual occurrence, rare historical occurrence, or no previously documented occurrence in Connecticut. Most species on the list average fewer than five occurrences annually, but some difficult to identify species are included even if they occur more frequently. The committee reviews submitted reports and votes to either accept or not accept them.

In some circles we are also known, by less understanding members of the birding community, as the people who tell you what you saw and whether you can count it or not! Others think of us and other such committees as the free mason equivalent of birding, conducting secret meetings in the dark on a full-moon. Other than cult-induced worship and the odd animal sacrifice we are very different. Before you call PETA, this is of course not true. The committee is made up of hard-working, experienced, approachable and genuinely nice people (well, except me of course) who give up a lot of their free time to serve on the committee and to undertake research into rare bird occurrences and publish articles in the COA flagship journal The Connecticut Warbler.

Looking hard at Gull-billed Terns - surprisingly few records are from Ct even though they occurr as close by as Long Island

But, on occasion we have to occasionally find a record “not proven”.  This is mainly an effort to protect the integrity of the historical archive. It does not mean we do not believe the observer saw an interesting bird but simply that documentation was insufficient to prove to us beyond a reasonable doubt that the species occurred. Often this may or may not be the fault of the observer –  brevity of views, weather, distance and other factors may combine to thwart a positive  id.

"Ahh..Grasshopper, only when you can separate monachus from savana, will you be able to leave the temple"

We will, and do "tick anything" even if it doesn't move. Here's the reason why Frank Mantlik is one of the state's top listers.

Does ARCC rule on personal lists?NO! Many people watch birds solely for their own enjoyment, and their lists are their own business. If you wish to share your sightings in published reports, such as the “Connecticut Field Notes” in the journal The Connecticut Warbler, then written descriptions are essential, but your list is your own. Doing one’s level best to document a rarity is all we expect.

Does the ARCC like Beer and New Haven Pizza? YES! This vote was accepted unanimously.  One of the most important decisions of the current meeting was to decide on Modern vs Pepe’s vs Bar for pizza. In the end Bar won out and it was a thumbs-up from the virgin eaters of bacon and mashed potato pizza.

No, there really IS beer in there!

In truth, the ARCC thanks all the birders who take the time to send in reports and photographs, since your hard work and co-operation is important in developing the state list.  More on the committee and it’s workings, including how to submit a report can be found at:


One Response to “ARCC- working hard on behalf of your list!”

  1. Ray Belding Says:

    And, all this time I thought you met behind locked doors. I know Pepe’s and Modern but where the heck is Bar?

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