The EORC aims at validating records of rare birds observed in Egypt (those listed in the EORC list of rarities, plus not yet listed on the checklist of Egyptian birds) and updating the Egyptian national bird list (adding new species and defining their category – A,B,C,D,E). So the EORC is maintaining the official Bird List of Egypt. In order to present the structure, composition and functioning of the Egyptian Ornithologigal Rarities Committee, we present here some rules.
1 - The EORC holds 10 members, including a chairman and a secretary. Each year, the chairman and the secretary are confirmed or not at their position. The committee can also nominate external advisory experts.
2 - The renewal of EORC members started in January 2012. One member is renewed per year, starting with the chairman, the order of the others being determined randomly in 2012, this order being kept for the forthcoming years. So after the first 2 years, one member gets off each year and one new member is elected by the members from declared candidates. An off-member can not apply for a new membership during one year. Members should pay a particular attention to have Egyptian national(s) in the committee.
3 - The EORC will follow the AERC TAC (Taxonomic Advisory Committee) for the taxonomic topics, which means that the scientific names and species status will follow the TAC recommendations.
4 - The EORC evaluates records of all species with less than ten records in Egypt. A checklist of species to be considered is published and available to observers. The list of rarities which records should be ratified by the EORC is determined from the checklist of the book ‘The Birds of Egypt’ (Goodman, Meininger, Baha el Din, Hobbs & Muillié 1989). The records of any species not cited in this book as officially recorded in Egypt are to be submitted as potential additions to the Egyptian list. This includes species reported in John Miles’ ‘Pharaohs’ Birds’ (1998), or listed in the OSME list for Egyptian birds. Any species not yet reported in Egypt should be subject to ratification. Eventually, those additional species to the Egyptian list will be added to the list of rare bird species which records are subject to ratification by the EORC.
5 - Any person including committee members can collect documents on historical records, prepare submission files and send them to the secretary for circulation. The EORC can study any detailed record, either directly submitted by the observer(s), or already published in a journal or on the web with thorough details. Pictures obviously proving the identification can be considered as well, as long as they are published with details on observer, date and location, and are available at least on the web so can be considered as having been diffused publicly.
6 - A form to submit records is available on the EORC website and other websites dedicated to birding in Egypt, and is based on the AERC form, completed with elements to help understanding the bird origin and the observer’s skill.Observers send the submitted records by email to the secretary at firstname.lastname@example.org. The secretary and/or the chairman prepare the files to be circulated.
7 - The communication on the EORC is made by the chairman, who is the only one who can communicate in name of the whole committee and communicate the general opinion of the committee. The chairman can delegate this role to the secretary.
8 - The members express their vote as Accept or Not Proven, considering the identification. Accept vote implies a very high (though not always total) confidence in the mind of the voter that the record was as claimed. Confidence may not be absolutely total, but needs to be very high for an Accept vote to be given. At an individual level, a Not Proven vote means that the voter has less than the very high level of confidence required for an Accept vote. It explicitly does not imply that the voter believes the observer to be either incompetent or dishonest in any way, but in many cases just that there is a risk of a genuine error having occurred because not quite enough evidence could be collected during the observation and thereafter provided to the committee.
9 - Records are accepted after the first round if all members give an Accept vote. If there is 1 or 2 Not Proven votes at the first round, the record makes a second round after members’ comments from the first round are provided to all members. After the second round, records with no or only a single Not Proven vote are validated. Records with 2 or more Not Proven votes are not accepted. Not all opinions will be waited for making a decision in case of important delays. A decision can be taken if 6 opinions or more have been expressed within a 2-month delay after the circulation started. If needed, record files might be sent, via the Chairman and following a majority decision by members, to reknown experts on the species concerned for their views.
10 - Members provide two expert comments: first on the identification (details given above), second on the potential origin – as native, introduced and established, escape or doubtfully native), which means a vote for the category (A-B-C-D-E) to which the species (for a first record) or individual should be attributed. The categories are defined as in the AERC rules. A category is attributed to the species if validated by at least 6 of the committee members.
- A: wild origin, species observed after 1950
- B: wild origin, observed before 1950 but not afterwards
- C: established introduced species
- D: possible wild origin but doubt persists
- E: escapee (includes species escaped or introduced but not yet considered established even if already breeding in the wild).
11 - The secretary and/or the chairman prepare the files to be circulated and keep a copy of the archives. The files are posted on the web voting platform, each member receiving an e-mail advertising that new files have been added to the platform and are to be evaluated. Then the opinions and votes will be posted directly by members on the web platform. After circulation, all records, member’s comments and relevant correspondence are retained permanently whether or not the record is accepted. Any member of the EORC can have access to the archives, which will be kept also electronically.
12 - The role of the secretary is: to receive and circulate submissions of records; to collate results of voting; to ensure a safe archiving of all submitted documentation and voting members comments; to liaise with observers where necessary for further information; to coordinate re-circulations; to deal with correspondence as required; to liaise with the Chair as appropriate; to provide data for the annual report.
13 - The EORC will communicate in its annual reports a summary of the reason why a record is considered Not Proven. A Not Proven outcome almost never implies that a record is not as claimed, but just that the provided evidence falls short of being enough to ensure all members are confident that the record was as claimed. If there is new evidence or any other legitimate reason, the EORC will reconsider any record on request.
14 - The secretary and chairman are responsible for writing an annual report on the Accepted and Not Proven records. This annual report states briefly the reasons for non acceptance of a record. The name(s) of observer(s) of Not Proven records will not be published. Ideally, the report should be published in a journal in English, or at least available on the website of the EORC.
15 - All first record for Egypt should be published in a journal, and if some first are evaluated and validated by the EORC, the committee should invite the observers to publish the record. If the observers do not want to publish it by themselves, the EORC is responsible to publish the details of the record, using the elements provided by the observer(s) for the submission. The AERC recommandation is to publish the first five records if possible.