What we know today about Colorado's bird life is from the accumulation and analysis of information obtained over the years from many birders. Certainly no order in the animal kingdom has more citizen science participation in adding to our knowledge than birds.
In this day of instant communication word often spreads quickly about rare birds that are found, via phone calls, texts, and email, or by postings to listserves and social media apps. Some of these methods are more temporal or more limited in scope than others, and good information does not always make it to places where it can be of widespread and lasting value. Thus our primer on reporting birds in Colorado.
Long before the advent of Internet communications, most states had a telephone Rare Bird Alert for reporting - rare birds! Around the country most RBA phone lines have since been replaced by various other forms of communication. In Colorado, the CFO strongly recommends that bird sightings be reported to the COBIRDS listserve hosted by Google Groups, where they become immediately available to other birders and are compiled into a daily RBA summary that is also posted to COBIRDS. If you do not have access to posting in COBIRDS, please use our Contact form to report your sighting; these will be compiled into the RBA summary posted on COBIRDS the following day. CFO also has a Facebook page where bird information and photos may be posted and shared.
The use of eBird use has increased exponentially over the past few years. Many people, including many Colorado birders, use eBird to keep their daily checklists, and even use eBird apps to instantly report their sightings while in the field. Use of eBird makes a strong contribution to scientific study and bird conservation, and also allows users to keep track of their lists and make queries to see what species they have recorded in the state or a particular county. Because not all Colorado birders use eBird, CFO encourages eBird users to also report interesting bird sightings to COBIRDS -- there is no rule prohibiting birders from reporting to more than one place!
- eBird - more than a social media site, with more staying ability than a written note
- eBird Alerts - get email alerts for rare birds in Colorado and the ABA area (requires login)
Seasonal & Speciality Reporting
Seasonal data of significant sightings such as early and late dates, unusual location or numbers, and even some notable lack of an expected species is collated from a variety of sources by an editor who synthesizes all of the information into a report published quarterly in Colorado Birds. Some of this report is then combined with other mountain states to provide a broad picture of seasonal happenings throughout North America. This is published in North American Birds. Another reason to report your sightings through COBIRDS and eBird!
County and Annual Listing
Many Colorado birders, like birders around the globe, love to keep lists. How many species have you seen in different Colorado counties? How many species have you seen ever in Colorado? How about last year? These previously manually-tallied lists reside here on the CFO website and can be directly updated by individual participants -- see the links below.
Rare Bird Records
Colorado, like most states and provinces, has a Bird Records Committee to provide peer review of reports of rare birds. The Colorado Bird Records Committee (CBRC) also maintains the official state and county checklists, and prepares a list of species for which they would like to have documentation of sightings. So in addition to reporting to COBIRDS and eBird, please also submit documentation to the CBRC for any birds you find that are on the list for which the CBRC would like documentation.