Rarities & Records Committee
The Ceylon Bird Club Rarities and Records Committee

The Ceylon Bird Club Rarities and Records Committee (CBCRRC) was originally formed as the Ceylon Bird Club Rarities Committee (CBCRC) in 1985. Its role was to scrutinise and evaluate all specimen-based and sight records of birds in Sri Lanka from the past which it finds, and all specimens and reports in the future which come to its attention, and thereby present all and only authentic records in a Sri Lanka List of birds. A Main List, Appendix I and Appendix II were defined.

In October 1998 the Rarities Committee refined the criteria for the above categories further for recording in a more informative manner all species and sub­species of birds known from Sri Lanka. Its name was changed to the Records Com­mittee (still CBCRC) to indicate its wider role.

In 2005 the Committee adopted the present name to clearly reflect the two aspects of its role, evaluating reports and categorising those which are not rejected.

A Rarity Report Form for submitting a report of a rarity is available from the Club. The report may be accompanied by other supportive evidence. By a ‘rarity’ is meant a very rare, or rare ‘confusion’, migrant species or sub­species or a very rare ‘confusion’ resident species (e.g. Blue-eared Kingfisher) in Sri Lanka. (A ‘con­fusion’ species or subspecies is one which requires a high degree of care in observation and identification to separate it from others which look similar.) A list of rarities is provided. A report of a species or subspecies which is new to Sri Lanka or a rarity should be conveyed to the CBCRRC in the manner set out in the Form.

The role of the Ceylon Bird Club Rarities and Records Committee

  • The CBCRRC ensures the scientific accuracy and integrity of the Sri Lanka List by admitting to it all and only those species and subspecies that have been identified beyond reasonable doubt.
  • The CBCRRC scrutinises and evaluates the identification and the possibility of occurrence of any new or ‘rarity’ (see above) species or subspecies reported to the CBC by a member or non-member, or reported in an ornithological or any other publica­tion when such an instance comes to its attention. It seeks, if necessary, expert opinion from regional or international authorities on relevant matters.
  • The CBCRRC adjudicates on and categorises all reports of new or rare migrant species or subspecies in accordance with the List Categories (see below) and publishes its decisions in the monthly Ceylon Bird Club Notes.
  • The CBCRRC reviews or reassesses an existing record in any Category if any reasonable evidence is brought before or comes to its notice which may affect the status of that record.
  • The CBCRRC takes care in every respect to assess all reports and records thor­oughly, fairly and objec­tively and to make unbiased decisions on them.
  • The CBCRRC advises the Club on publishing revisions of the Sri Lanka List.
  • The CBCRRC studies taxonomic advances, and applies them to the List when such changes become formally or widely accepted, or before where appropriate.
  • The CBCRRC when requested collaborates with the Committee or relevant Sub-Committee of the CBC regarding the most suitable English and vernacular names to be used in the works of the CBC.
  • The CBCRRC monitors, as well as it can, aviculture (i.e. the keeping of cage birds) in the country to adjudicate on potential escape species in rarity records.
  • The CBCRRC monitors seabird reports of the northern Indian Ocean in local or international publications and, as well as it is able to, from information by sea-going persons, in order to rectify the current under-representation of oceanic species in the Sri Lanka List and to predict the possible future occurrence of others. It also decides the ocean limits of the country as they relate to seabird records  (The limit decided is presently 40 km from shore since this is the distance defined as ‘coastal’ by the fisheries industry in Sri Lanka. The majority of recent seabird sightings has been land-based or made within  20 km of the shore, and this is likely also to be the case in future sightings.)


Members of the CBCRRC

The CBC Rarities and Records Committee is appointed by the Committee of the CBC, and currently has eight members. The CBCRRC is a well-balanced team com­prising ex­pe­rienced, reliable field ornithologists, among whom are an avian tax­onomist and professional academic ornithologist, and a zoological taxonomist and historian of ornithological records. Many of the members have wide international experience and knowledge as field ornithologists. Knowledge and skills of members include: expertise in bird identification; in the status and distribution of birds in Sri Lanka; extensive field experience of rare and ‘confusion’ taxa; expertise in birds of the wider region; in taxonomy; genetics; aviculture in Sri Lanka; and the history of ornithological records in Sri Lanka. Their work is entirely voluntary and unpaid.

The CBCRRC presently comprises: T. W. Hoffmann (Chairman), D. P. Wije­singhe, N. Senanayake, D. H. Warakagoda (Secretary), J. Gunawardana, G. Lamsfuss, P. I. Holt and P. C. Rasmussen.

 

The CBCRRC List Categories

The Sri Lanka List and its two Appendices are known as the ‘List Categories’. These categorise according to the degree of certainty of occurrence in Sri Lanka each species or subspecies fully or provisionally accepted by the Rarities and Records Committee.

The Sri Lanka List contains all and only the records decided by the Committee to be authentic, i.e. accepted fully by it.
The Appendices document the unconfirmed although possible, and therefore pro­visionally accepted, reports as described below until conclu­sive evidence of each such species in Sri Lanka comes to light. The Appendices are not part of the Sri Lanka List but are simply meant to provide additional informa­tion.

The general definition for each List Category is given below, and for the Appen­dices it is followed by additional criteria that make it more precise.

 

The Sri Lanka List (Country List)

The Sri Lanka List comprises all resident and migrant species and subspecies with accepted specimen-based or sight records. The occurrence of each of these taxa in Sri Lanka is not described within the range of doubt in the criteria for the Appendices.


Appendix I

Appendix I holds species or subspecies of migrants each known from (a) a sight report which is accepted only provisionally because there is some reason­able doubt about it, or (b) a record included in a previous Main List for Sri Lanka but about which there is now some reason­able doubt. (Cf. Appendix II).
The criteria for a species or subspecies to be listed in Appendix I are the following. The phrase ‘It is likely’ below means ‘There is no known reason why it is unlikely’.

  • It is likely to occur as a migrant in Sri Lanka; but the report lacks sufficient diag­nostic detail or, where necessary, sufficient comparison with ‘confusion’ species or subspecies; and there is therefore some doubt as to the identification of the bird/s concerned.
  • It is likely to occur as a migrant in Sri Lanka, and is reported with sufficient detail, but there is some doubt regarding the origin or the reliability of the details in the report.
  • It is likely to occur as a migrant in Sri Lanka, and is reported with sufficient detail, but also could be of domesticated or captive origin in Sri Lanka.

If a species or subspecies in Appendix I is later included in the Sri Lanka List on the strength of a subsequent report then the report held here will be removed and, depending on the relevance, reliability and degree of detail presented in it, may or may not be recognised as a previous record.


Appendix II

Appendix II holds (a) migrant species or subspecies known from sight reports accepted provisionally with consider­able doubt, (b) migrant species or subspecies known from records included in a previous Main List for Sri Lanka but about which there is now considerable doubt, (c) species or subspecies known from speci­mens whose origins are in doubt, and (d) species of domesticated or captive origin.
The criteria for a species or subspecies to be listed in Appendix II are the following. The phrase ‘It is less likely’ below means ‘There is at least one reason why it is unlikely’.

  • There is a likelihood in any degree that it occurs as a migrant in Sri Lanka, but/and it is reported with insufficient detail.
  • It is likely to occur as a migrant in Sri Lanka, but there is grave doubt regarding the origin and reliability of the details in the report.
  • It is less likely to occur as a migrant in Sri Lanka, and there is doubt in any degree regarding the origin or the reliability of the details in the report.
  • It is less likely to occur as a migrant in Sri Lanka; the report lacks sufficient diagnostic detail or, where necessary, sufficient comparison with ‘confusion’ spe­cies or subspecies; and there is therefore doubt as to the identification of the bird/s concerned.
  • There is a likelihood that it occurs as a distant vagrant in Sri Lanka, but the report lacks sufficient detail or other supportive evidence required for the species or subspecies.
  • It is known only from a specimen-based record/s which is/are in doubt for various reasons, e.g. the labelling or the origin of the specimen/s.
  • There is a likelihood in any degree that it occurs in Sri Lanka, but it is reported with insufficient detail, and could be of domesticated or captive origin in Sri Lanka.
  • It is known to be of captive origin in Sri Lanka, and not established as a feral population in the country, even though there may be intermittent evi­dence of breeding after escape (e.g. Java Spar­row).

If a species or subspecies in Appendix II is later included in Appendix I or the Sri Lanka List on the strength of a subsequent report then the report held here will be removed and, depending on the relevance, reliability and degree of detail presented in it, may or may not be recognised as a previous record.

List of Rejections
The List of Rejections contains all the species or subspecies for which reports were submitted or records were claimed but were rejected after1990 as not meeting the criteria for the Sri Lanka List or the Appendices by the CBCRRC, existing by its present or previous names.

Other relevant information
Also provided by the CBCRRC are:
Recent CBCRRC decisions (those within the last 12 months),
Reports currently taken up for evaluation by the CBCRRC, and
Extracts from the Ceylon Bird Club Notes relating to the CBCRRC.

 

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