About ARCC

Who is the Avian Records Committee of Connecticut?
The ARCC (hereafter referred to as “the committee”) consists of twelve members who serve three year terms following nomination and election by the committee and approval of the COA Board of Directors. A member may serve multiple consecutive terms. The committee has a chairperson as well a secretary. All members vote.

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.

What happens to submitted reports and how do the ARCC members vote?
Each report of a rare sighting that is received by ARCC is assigned a unique number (e.g., 99-11 is the eleventh record received in 1999). Descriptions pertaining to the same bird received from more than one source are combined under the same record number. The secretary determines if there is sufficient information to circulate the report. If there is deemed to be insufficient information, more may be requested from the reporting individual(s). Once several reports have been accumulated, the secretary distributes these to the members who then return their votes with written comments. Up to three votes may be taken on a report. Acceptance requires that the evidence for the report convince all, or all but one, of the members that the identification is correct. If a majority feels the evidence is inadequate to support the identification, then the report is not accepted. Any vote result other than these requires the report be circulated again in the committee with the member’s written opinions from the initial vote. Members must refrain from discussing their opinion on the first vote, but discussion and debate is encouraged on the second and third rounds and at committee meetings. If after the third vote if the report is not accepted by more than one member, the report is officially not accepted. In addition, members may accept an identification but not accept the record because they strongly question the natural occurrence (that is to say the bird may owe its occurrence here to direct human assistance).

What happens to reports that ARCC does not accept?
Both accepted and not accepted records are published in committee reports. More importantly, evidence for ALL records is permanently filed and available. Those whose reports fail to gain acceptance should not take this as a judgment that the bird was misidentified or that the observer’s abilities are questioned but that the submitted evidence was insufficient to support the identification. Remember, these files must measure up to the adequacy of the historical record being maintained. Further, a report can be resubmitted for review even after a decision is published (either as accepted or not accepted) if there is new and substantial information regarding the record.  Ultimately all reports become part of the historical record, and as such are very important in writing the ornithological history of Connecticut.

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.

Unfortunately, the committee often is put into the position of being the arbiter of lists not associated with the purpose and intent of its work. When people compare their list of species seen in Connecticut with other birders, the basis for comparison is usually the official state list. The American Birding Association (no affiliation with COA) has set up rules for listing that require one to follow local rare bird committee decisions. As a result, sometimes the committee is put into an  uncomfortable position it neither desires nor enjoys. The listing aspect of birding, and its relationship to rare sightings, plays absolutely no role in the committee’s deliberations. This fact is fundamental to the workings of a rare records committee.

Why should I go to the trouble of submitting a report?
The writing and submission of sighting reports is the only way the ornithological history of Connecticut can be kept and kept current. When you write up a sighting you are making an invaluable contribution to that history and to the future of Connecticut’s birds. The data base that exists and continues to be updated is an extremely valuable tool to researchers, conservationists, ornithologists, and even other birders. Never assume that others who have seen a rarity will write it up so you don’t need to. A surprising number of sightings go undocumented, which is a shame.

How do I document and submit a report on a sighting?
Help on how to write up a report and where to send it is found at: Rare Report

Does the Committee Publish Reports?
Yes. The summation of records and decisions are published in the journal of the Connecticut Ornithological Association, The Connecticut Warbler. Additionally, these reports are published on COA Web. You can find them under ARCC Reports.

Who is on the Committee?
Many of Connecticut’s experienced birders have served on the committee, and residence within CT is desirable but not required. The following is a list of current members;

Jay Kaplan
Chairman
Canton, CT

Phil Rusch
Chaplin, CT

David Provencher
Norwich, CT

Glenn Williams
Mystic, CT

Frank Mantlik
Stratford, CT

Nick Bonomo
Orange, CT

David Tripp, Jr.
Canton, CT

Julian Hough
New Haven, CT

Greg Hanisek
Secretary
Waterbury, CT

Frank Gallo
Milford, CT

Bob Dixon
Sterling, CT

Tina Green
Westport, CT

Much of the above information was taken from the article “The Connecticut Rare Records Committee: An Overview” published in The Connecticut Warbler, Volume 16 Number 1, by Louis R. Bevier who is a past CRRC/ARCC member and current advisor to ARCC.

For additional info on ARCC and rare records in Connecticut see Volume 16 Number 1 January 1996 of The Connecticut Warbler. This excellent edition was largely dedicated to those topics.