Listers Corner

The Listers Corner feature of our website continues to substantially increase in popularity. Questions and suggestions may be directed to any member of the IOS Listers Corner Committee: Joe Lill, Mike Madsen and Jim Mountjoy.

With so many new birders joining the Listers Corner clan the IOS Board thought it would be timely to restate and clarify the procedures and rules governing the submission of totals.

Since this is a ‘for fun’ activity, not a scientific database, the rules are few:

  • The Listers Corner Committee (LCC) does not vet submitted lists, except for mathematical errors, the presence of birds not on the IOS official state checklist and to determine whether a single-observer sighting of a Review List species has been documented to IORC in a timely manner (within one month of the sighting). The Review List, available on the IOS website, contains those bird species on the Illinois Checklist that require documentation to the Illinois Ornithological Records Committee. Final totals may change over time as listers make adjustments to their totals; for instance, in response to decisions by the Illinois Ornithological Records Committee related to sightings of review-list species.
  • Listers are urged to abide by the ABA Code of Ethics and the ABA Recording Rules and Interpretations.
  • In most cases, listers only need to send in their numerical totals, not their species list. However, when list totals reach thresholds that vary by category, a list of species may also be required.
  • From January 1, 2014 onward, Big Day tallies will be split into two categories: Team Big Days and Single-Observer Big Days. The 95% Rule, adopted by the American Birding Association, applies to all Team Big Days. 95% of all species must be identified by all observers.
  • All submissions should be sent to the LCC by 1/31 of the following year. Lists sent after that will be added to Listers Corner solely at the discretion of the LCC.

Here are a few Frequently Asked Questions:

I saw a Whooping Crane fly past. Can I count it?

As a result of the ABA (American Birding Association) ruling on the countability of Whooping Cranes, you may, if you wish, add that species to your state and county lists, as long as the sighting is after June 2006, when the first chick from the Wisconsin flock was hatched in the wild. We will not be going back and changing list totals from past years. As always, the ultimate decision to list the species is yours. We asked the ABA committee about the scenario of seeing cranes following the ultralight plane. They prefer to have one standard for countability, and mentioned that the decision to count the species in that situation is up to the birder.

Can I count that European Goldfinch that occasionally shows up at our feeders? Exotic species, not on the Illinois Checklist, cannot be included in lists sent to LCC. If/when an exotic is added to the Checklist, it becomes countable.

What about heard-only birds? The short answer is yes. Most listers count the regularly-occurring owls and nightjars by sound only. Beyond that, it becomes more problematic, dealing with mimics, the very similar sounding songs of vireos and warblers, etc. If it’s a relatively common species in an expected location, sure, go ahead and count it. However, be very cautious when making an ID based on sound, especially if it’s a Review List species, or a species far out of season or out of its normal range and habitat. Making an ID based on a call or chip note only is often not a reliable method.

Can I count a bird when I use an audio recording to lure it into view?
 Some specific locations prohibit playback. Using this technique in those places is a clear violation of the ABA Code of Ethics. Otherwise, be very judicious in using this technique – frequent, constant audio playback is known to be disruptive to many species, common and rare.

While birding alone, I saw what I think was a Bohemian Waxwing, mixed in with some Cedar Waxwings. It appeared to be grayer, looked a little bigger, but it was pretty far away, and I never saw the undertail. Can I count it? Do what you can to get a better look, call your birding friends to get other sets of eyes on the bird, etc. But if you’re still not sure, there’s a simple mnemonic – When in doubt, leave it out!

Why do I have to document rare or unusual birds? Documentation records sent to the Illinois Ornithological Records Committee form an important part of the scientific literature of bird occurrence in Illinois. Documenting a bird adds to that literature, even if your documentation is not accepted by the IORC. Within this broad question, there are several subcategories, such as the look-alike species problem, or addressing a sighting of a dramatically out-of-season species; for example, a Yellow Warbler in January, or a Black Vulture in Stephenson County, far north of its normal range. Both definitely should be documented. Common sense is the best screener in your decision to document. Is the species itself, or the date/place where you saw it unlikely or unexpected? Then documentation is appropriate – a diagnostic photo helps a lot! If you have a question along these lines, don’t hesitate to contact the Listers Corner Committee.

2016 IOS Lister’s Corner

Illinois Life Lists (PDF)

Total Counties per Species List – Central (PDF)

Big Year Lists (PDF)

Total Counties per Species List – Southern (PDF)

Big Month Lists (PDF)

Big Day Lists (PDF)

Site Lists (PDF)

Yard Lists (PDF)

Species Category Big Day Lists (PDF)

Miscellaneous Lists (PDF)

County Life Lists (PDF)

Submitted Lists (HTML)

Total Tick Lists (PDF)

Total Counties per Species List (PDF)

Illinois Regional Map (JPG)

Total Counties per Species List – Northern (PDF)

Historical Big Year Lists (PDF)

Lister’s Corner Archives…