Advancing Ornithology in Florida. Supporting Research and Education about Birds. Uniting Amateurs and Professionals in the Study of Wild Birds.

Records Committee Rules and Procedures

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  1. Applicable By-law of the Society: Article VI, Section 5 of the F.O.S. By-laws adopted 9/25/92 and subsequently amended 10/16/98, 10/12/2001, and 10/22/2004 define the Records Committee as follows:   The Records Committee shall consist of seven (7) members appointed by the President for staggered terms of seven (7) years. No member may be reappointed to the Records Committee until an absence from the committee of as least one (1) year. A replacement member to the FOSRC that has served on the committee for four (4) or fewer annual meetings is eligible for reappointment to the committee without a one (1) year waiting period. This committee shall evaluate reports of birds recorded in the wild in Florida and is responsible for updating a scientific record of Florida’s avifauna. Material provided to this committee shall be archived to be accessible to future researchers. The committee shall publish its decisions periodically in the Florida Field Naturalist. One or more secretaries shall be chosen by the committee to serve as liaison with the public, the Archives Committee, and the Florida Field Naturalist. The procedures used by the committee in soliciting, evaluating, and publishing reports shall be reviewed and approved by the Board of Directors.      
  2. "Evaluate reports of birds recorded in the wild in Florida.": The Committee shall publish and amend from time-to-time a Review List of species considered to be part of Florida’s avifauna, Reports of which the Committee wishes to review. The Committee shall also review Reports of species not previously considered part of Florida’s avifauna, which plausibly have occurred by Natural Appearance. The Committee shall solicit written Reports of these species from the public and also shall seek them from the literature and elsewhere. The Committee shall also monitor the occurrence and status of Exotic species as described in Appendix A of these rules and procedures. The Committee normally shall only review species designated as such by the AOU but may choose to review a Report as pertaining to a Sibling Species Group when doing so seems best to serve Florida ornithology.
  3. "Update a scientific record of Florida"s avifauna.": The Committee has adopted the "Verified Species" listed in Florida Bird Species: an annotated list (Robertson & Woolfenden, 1992, F.O.S. Spec. Pub. 6) as its baseline scientific list of Florida’s avifauna ("State List"). The Committee shall publish updates to the State List from time-to-time based upon its Final Decisions and other activity. Changes to the State List may comprise:
    • a. Naturally Appearing additions: Species not previously on the State List that are determined by a Final Decision of the Committee to be based upon one or more Records on Natural Appearance in Florida. A Sibling Species Group may be added as discussed elsewhere herein.  
    • b. Naturally Appearing deletions: Species previously on the State List that are determined by a Final Decision of the Committee not to be based upon at least one valid Record of Natural Appearance in Florida, following a re-evaluation of the available evidence as det forth elsewhere herein.  
    • c. Established Exotic additions: species not previously contained on the State List that are determined by a Final Decision of the Committee to be Established in Florida, as described in Appendix A.  
    • d. Disestablished Exotic deletions: species currently on the State List that are determined by a Final Decision of the Committee never to have been Established in Florida (cf. Appendix A).  
    • e. Taxonomic additions, deletions, and nomenclatural changes: species whose Florida status changed following publication of revisions or supplements to the A.O.U. Check-List of North American Birds, based upon a review of Records of applicable species on the State List.  
  4. "Material provided...shall be archived...": Following completion of review, or as otherwise set forth herein, the Committee shall forward all material provided to and accepted by it for consideration, either to the Society’s archives or to an otherwise appropriate curated collection as its nature so requires, for future public use subject to the rules of the responsible curator. This policy shall be made clear to providers. Internal documents of the Committee or of its members shall not be placed into the archives or otherwise be made public except as set forth herein. Loaned material will be returned to its owner when the Committee no longer requires it, as its owner directs.  
  5. "One or more secretaries shall be chosen...": Any member of the Society may serve as Records Committee Secretary. Two or more members of the Society may divide the Secretarial duties in a manner approved by all Committee members. Anyone serving as Committee Secretary may resign at any time. An individual Committee member requires the affirmative vote of at least 5 Committee members in order to assume Secretarial duties. No individual Committee member may be removed from previously assumed Secretarial duties except by a vote of at least 5 Committee members. Individual Society members who are not Committee members may undertake secretarial duties only by a unanimous vote of the Committee and with all its members’ continuing consent. If the Committee is unable to agree upon who shall undertake all Secretarial duties as set forth herein, the Committee shall not act upon any business until such agreement is achieved. If the Committee is unable to conduct business, it shall notify the President of the Society and its Board of Directors, who may then act as provided in the Society’s By-laws to alter the membership of the Committee.  
  6. "Procedures Reviewed and approved by the Board of Directors.": These rules and procedures were adopted by the Committee on 10 Jan. 1998 subject to the approval of the Board of Directors. No changes to these rules and procedures other than minor technical changes may be made by the Committee without restating them in their entirety and resubmitting them to the Board of Directors for review and approval.    


  1. Receive Reports. The Secretary shall receive all Reports provided to the Committee for consideration. These shall be classified as follows:
    • a. Circulatable. A circulatable Report is a claim of a species on the Committee’s Review List or of a species not on the Committee’s State List that plausibly might occur in Florida by Natural Appearance, which contains both sufficient information to justify review, and a request for review signed by a principal to the Report. Requests for review must acknowledge an understanding that all material provided will be deposited in the Society’s archives or in a stated alternate public depository acceptable to the Committee. Circulatable Reports shall be assigned an accession number, acknowledged to the provider with that Report’s accession number, entered into a log of Reports currently under review, and moved to the Committee’s review process. Reports from multiple individuals appearing to pertain to the same bird(s) shall be assigned the same accession number (i.e., combined into one file) but shall be individually acknowledged. Providers may withdrew previously provided material without prejudice at any time prior to a Decision.  
    • b. Precirculatable . A precirculatable Report is one which would otherwise be circulatable, but which lacks either a signed request for review, or in the Secretary’s opinion, lacks sufficient information and evidence to justify review. The Secretary shall contact the provider and request whatever additional material would render the Report circulatable; meanwhile, the Report shall be entered into a log of precirculatable Reports awaiting disposition. The Secretary shall bring all precirculatable Reports on file to all Committee meetings for inspection by individual Committee members as they may desire. Unless directed otherwise with respect to any particular Report by five or more Committee members, the Secretary shall use best judgment as to when to log each Report out of this class and either treat it as circulatable or unacceptable. If circulatable, it shall be treated as in 1.a., above. If unacceptable, it shall be returned to the provider with an appropriate letter of explanation including an invitation to resend the Report with the requested material or to appeal the Secretary’s decision to the entire Committee.  
    • c. Exotic. A Report of an Exotic bird species (="Exotic Report") is a claim of a species not on the Committee’s State List which is considered by the Secretary not plausibly to have occurred in Florida by Natural Appearance. The Secretary shall keep a separate log of Exotic Reports. Treatment of Exotic Reports is described in Appendix A.  
    • d. Uncirculatable. Reports of species on the Florida State List but not on the Committee’s Review List shall be returned with thanks to the provider. The letter of return shall advise that the provider may send material directly to the Society’s archives subject to any rules of the Archives Committee.  
  2. Handle Records and Reports not Provided to the Committee. The Secretary and Committee members shall make an ongoing review of the ornithological literature and other material, seeking claims of species in Florida that might qualify as Records, Established Exotics, or circulatable Reports. Committee members shall advise the Secretary from time-to-time of such claims as they may discover. The Secretary shall handle such claims as follows:
    • a. Published references to a circulatable species not provided for review. The Secretary shall keep a log of published claims of species in Florida that might qualify under 1.a. above, indicating the name of the species, the name(s) of the principal(s), the location and date(s), and a citation of the published source of the information. The Secretary may invite the principal(s) to provide a Report in support of a claim and may supply appropriate forms, instructions, and other material useful for the preparation of such a Report. If a corresponding Report is subsequently provided to the Committee for such a claim, the corresponding entry shall be removed from this log, and the Report shall be handled under 1. Above. If the Secretary, or any 5 members of the Committee acting together, believes that a published reference may constitute a Published Account, the Secretary shall complete a substitute reporting form making reference to said published material and/or underlying evidence, and treat it as if it had been sent to the Committee under 1.a. above. Specimens and similar probative material may qualify as Published Accounts even if the details are not formally published, providing said material has been deposited in a curated collection accessible to the Committee and the public.  
    • b. Published assertions of Establishment of an Exotic species. If material appears in a scientifically credible publication such as a technical book or a refereed journal, that asserts that an Exotic species not presently on the State List has an Established population in the state, and it provides adequate evidence to allow review by the Committee, the Secretary shall prepare a substitute reporting form and otherwise handle it as described in Appendix A.  
  3. 3. Manage the review process. The Secretary shall be responsible for assuring that each member of the Committee has an adequate opportunity to review each Report sufficiently to render an informed opinion as to whether the evidence provided or otherwise publicly available supports designation of that Report as Accepted, and shall otherwise manage the circulation process for each Report under review until a Final Decision is reached by the Committee.
    • a. Furnish the evidence to each Committee member. The Secretary shall copy all documents furnished as part of a Report for each Committee member and shall periodically forward same to the members along with a ballot for each Report. The Secretary may copy and forward non-document evidence if the evidence itself is not impaired by the duplication process (e.g., loss of color precision in photos, or of frequencies on recordings). The Secretary has discretion to deliver original non-document evidence to each Committee member in rotation giving due weight to the risks of loss or impairment. The Secretary need not treat each member equally in allowing review of original material away from the customary site for its safekeeping.  
    • b. Make available comparative material. The Secretary shall attempt to obtain and make available to each Committee member such comparative material (specimens, recordings, photographs, papers, etc.) as the Secretary believes is appropriate to reach an informed decision in respect to each Report, or as a Committee member may request. The Secretary shall use the same judgment with respect to duplication or delivery in rotation towards comparative material as may be appropriate for classes of original evidence in a Report.  
    • c. Seek expert opinions. Whenever the Secretary believes it appropriate, or when any member of the Committee requests, the Secretary may contact one or more experts for a written opinion concerning any issue pertaining to a Report. The Secretary may delay or interrupt deliberations in order to furnish original evidence to such experts. Any written expert opinions shall be considered comparative material and be made available to all Committee members, as shall the expert’s qualifications to be considered as such. Expert opinion should supplement not substitute for, a member’s individual judgment.  
    • d. Monitor the progress of deliberations. The Secretary shall maintain a progress log for each Report as it passes through the Committee, at a minimum indicating each Committee member’s status with respect to each Report under consideration by the Committee. This log, which shall be confidential within the Committee, shall allow the Secretary or any Committee member to ascertain what evidence and (when appropriate) what comparative material has been provided to each Committee member and for how long; whether that Committee member has made a Vote; and if so, what that Vote is. The Secretary shall use appropriate means to encourage each Committee member to act within a reasonable period following that member’s access to all evidence and comparative material pertaining to a Report. When all current Committee members have Voted on a Report, the Secretary shall notify the members if a Decision has been reached based on the standards for Acceptance or Non-acceptance of a Report. Until a Final Decision is reached on a given Report, any Committee member may change an earlier Vote or revoke it and request access again to all review material. If a member leaves the Committee before a Final Decision is reached on a given Report, that member’s Vote, if any, shall be expunged from the log entry for that Report. Once a Final Decision is reached, the Report shall be logged out from the review process. If all members have Voted and the Final Decision is Non-resolution, the Secretary shall expunge all Votes from the log and consult the members of the Committee concerning how best to proceed towards reaching a Decision of Acceptance or Non-acceptance on that Report.  
    • e. Schedule and Chair periodic Committee meetings. The Secretary shall determine when to call a meeting of the Committee, based on the status of Reports under deliberation and the time elapsed since the last meeting. Any member of the Committee also may request such a meeting. It shall be the policy of the Committee normally to hold at least one meeting annually. All Committee members must agree to attend a meeting before such meeting is formally scheduled, which shall be at a time and place acceptable to all Committee members. Committee meetings shall be used to review original evidence and comparative material not otherwise available to all members; to deliberate face-to-face; to reach Final Decisions; and to conduct all other business arising. Only members of the Committee may attend a meeting, except that the Committee acting in its entirety may invite non-Committee-member Secretaries, experts, and others to attend all or part of a meeting as is appropriate and necessary to the conduct of its business. A voice recording of the meeting shall be made to facilitate preparation of accurate minutes afterwards.  
    • f. Deliver the original evidence to the Society’s archives. Once a Final Decision on a Report has been reached by the Committee, and subject to the rules and procedures of the Archives Committee, the Secretary shall forward all original evidence and written expert opinions pertaining to that Report, to the Society’s archives of other mutually agreed depository, Comparative material shall be returned to their source(s) as appropriate. All ballots, notes, internal correspondence, and other confidential documents of the Committee pertaining to that Report, including the progress log showing each Committee member’s Vote on that Report shall be destroyed. The final vote (number of Accepts, Non-accepts, and Abstains, summing to the number of Committee members) for each Report shall be posted to the original accession log, which shall ultimately become part of the Society’s Archives.  
    • g. Reinitiate review of previously decided Reports. Any 5 members of the Committee may request at any time that any previously decided Report be reopened to review. In such a situation, the Secretary shall retrieve the file from the Society’s archives, initiate a progress log for that Report, and shall otherwise handle it as if it were newly received. The Report’s original accession number shall be retained.  
    • h. Initiate review of species possibly to be added to or removed from the State List, based upon taxonomic changes by the AOU. Inasmuch as the Committee follows the AOU in all matters of taxonomy and nomenclature, and the AOU’s Committee on Classification and Nomenclature ("AOU Check-List Committee") from time-to-time revises the AOU Check-List, the Secretary shall keep abreast of all published decisions of the AOU Check-List Committee and shall initiate a review of any species level taxa that possibly either should be added or deleted from the State List as a result of those decisions. The Secretary shall bring matters of this kind to the Committee’s attention for action in whatever manner seems most appropriate based on the circumstances. It is expected that most such action will be routine and can occur as an item on the agenda of the ensuing Committee meeting.  
  4. Prepare reports and correspondence of Committee actions.
    • a. Meeting minutes. The Secretary shall prepare accurate written minutes of any meeting held by the Committee and furnish same to all Committee members as soon thereafter as practical. The minutes shall include the general status of each Report received, deliberated upon, or decided since the last meeting, and all other matters coming before the Committee.  
    • b. Correspondence with providers. In addition to acknowledgments and other correspondence referred to elsewhere, the Secretary shall notify each provider of the Committee’s Decision in respect to a Report as soon as practical following a Final Decision. If the Final Decision is Non-acceptance, the Secretary may explain in general terms the Committee’s overall rationale, and may invite the provider to resend the Report with additional evidence. If a Report remains under deliberation for longer than two of the Committee’s meeting cycles, the Secretary shall notify its provider(s) that may help the Committee reach a Decision.  
    • c. Public report. The Secretary shall prepare a public report of the Committee’s actions since the last such report and shall submit it for publication to the Florida Field Naturalist. This report shall be written in the name of the entire Committee and shall be reviewed by each member before submission. It is the intent of the Committee to prepare such reports annually as practicable. In addition to any matters of general interest, the public report shall list separately in AOU phylogenetic sequence, at a minimum:
      • i. The accession number, species name, location, date(s), and provider(s) of each Report given Acceptance, also the disposition of any associated tangible evidence (including its location and catalog number) not filed with the Report in the Society"s archives, and any published citations thereof known to the Committee.  
      • ii. The same information separately for each Report given Non-Acceptance, but omitting the names of the provider(s) or other observer(s).  
      • iii. When applicable, the same information as in 4.c.i. or 4.c.ii (as appropriate) for Reports reopened under 3.g. above and subsequently redecided. The Secretary may use judgement whether to include these in the previous categories or treat them separately.  
      • iv. An annotated list of additions, deletions, and changes to the official State List of the Society, as first published in Robertson & Woolfenden (1992) and subsequently updated in public reports of the Committee, based on Final Decisions by the Committee since the last such published update. Additions, deletions, and changes may include actions attributable to taxonomic and nomenclatural changes following review by the Committee of each particular situation as discussed under 3.h. above.  
      • v. A summary of Reports and taxonomic changes still under review by the Committee.  
      • vi. The special accession number, species name, location, date(s), and provider(s) of each Exotic Report received and passed to the Society’s archives, and any published citations thereof known to the Committee.  
      • vii. A list of all published reviewable claims logged under 2.a. above since the Committee’s last public report, for which no evidence has been provided to the Committee, showing the species name, location, date(s), and citation where published. This list shall include a disclaimer stating that the Committee expresses no opinion concerning any of them. A general invitation to provide evidence for any of these claims as Reports may be included . If any are subsequently provided, a note to that effect shall be included in a subsequent public report. If a claim currently being treated under 1.b. above as a precirculatable Report is published, it shall be included in this list but its precirculatable status shall be footnoted.  
    • d. Report to Board of Directors. The Secretary shall prepare a report to the Society’s Board of Directors of its activities and any issues of concern outstanding, prior to each meeting of said Board, pursuant to an invitation from the Secretary of the Society.  
    • e. General correspondence. The Secretary shall receive all correspondence addressed to the Committee. The Secretary shall pass to other Committees or to officers of the Society or its Board of Directors, any correspondence which seems inapplicable to the Committee. The Secretary may answer routine correspondence directly as appropriate, or may delegate responsibility for responding to such correspondence to a Committee member with that member’s permission. All other correspondence shall be considered directed to the entire Committee and shall be discussed as an agenda item at its next meeting. The Secretary shall then respond as directed by a majority of the Committee’s members. The Secretary shall not initiate correspondence in the name of the Committee except as otherwise provided herein without the approval of a majority of the Committee’s members.  
    • f. Reporting instruction package. The Secretary may dispatch to interested parties a packet of instruction, forms, examples, and similar material intended to assist the public in preparing Reports and offering them for consideration. This packet may be prepared by the Secretary and/or one or more Committee members working together, but it shall be approved by the entire Committee prior to initial distribution.  


  1. Review circulated Reports: General. Each member of the Records Committee shall review each Report circulated as expeditiously as possible, in an impartial and informed manner, and shall make a good faith effort to come to a decision and to Vote within a reasonable time period. Committee members are expected to inform themselves of all known details and pitfalls of identifying the species claimed using the materials provided against the comparative material available, prior to coming to a decision of a Report. A Committee member should review only those facts provided and base judgment upon the overall credibility and probative value of that material. Opinions should be separated from facts and given weight only to the extent that the provider’s expertise in offering opinions is clearly evident in the materials sent or readily available. Descriptions and drawings made in the field during observation, without consultation with field guides, should be considered more factual than such material prepared otherwise. The reputation or experience of any observer should not substitute for presentation of facts. A Committee member may consult with anyone including other Committee members during deliberation, but should reach a decision independently. Expert opinions and comparative material used in reaching a decision should be available to all members of the Committee. If a member of the Committee should review material of this kind independently, the findings of that member should be disclosed in detail to all Committee members.  
  2. Review circulated reports: Voting. A Committee member shall remain Undecided until reaching a conclusion and making a Vote and may revoke or change that Vote freely prior to the Committee’s Final Decision concerning that Report. A Committee member may make one of three Votes:
    • a. Accept ( if the evidence taken in its entirety convincingly supports the identification and scenario of Natural Appearance, or the Establishment of an Exotic, both as defined elsewhere herein, for a species acceptable to the State List); or  
    • b. Non-accept (if the evidence is insufficient to convince the member of both identification and plausible Natural Appearance; or for an Exotic, identification and Establishment); or  
    • c. Abstain (if the evidence available seems equivocal in regard to identification, provenance, or Establishment, but additional information seems likely to become available in the foreseeable future; or if the member feels unable to evaluate the Report in a professional manner, regardless of reason). Committee members should not abstain to avoid rendering judgments that might be perceived as politically unpopular.
    • In Voting, a Committee member may indicate the reasoning behind his or her decision and, when Abstaining, should indicate what additional information might help in reaching either Acceptance or Non-acceptance. If not Accepting, a member may propose alternate possible identifications, provenances, or levels of establishment to that claimed in the Report, but if doing so should explain his or her reasoning.  
  3. Carefully handle unreproduced material. Each member shall carefully follow the instructions of the Secretary pertaining to the handling, forwarding, or returning of any unreproduced material, and shall do so by any deadline designated by the Secretary (unless extended by mutual agreement) even if the member is unable to reach a decision within the period provided.  
  4. Refrain from individual action. Members of the Committee shall forward any correspondence received pertaining to the Committee or its activities to the Secretary and shall not correspond or enter into discussions with anyone in the name of the Committee except as otherwise provided herein. Members shall not disclose any deliberations, opinions, or any other internal matters of the Committee to anyone outside the Committee except as otherwise provided herein. Members should bring before the entire Committee matters coming to that member’s attention having possible applicability to the Committee as a whole.  
  5. Attend meetings. Members of the Committee shall attend all meetings as mutually agreed. If a Committee member cannot attend a meeting as previously agreed, he or she shall notify the Secretary as early as possible prior to the agreed date and time, so that the meeting can be rescheduled for the convenience of all members. 6. Miscellaneous. Committee members may perform such other duties as may be agreed from time-to-time with the Secretary or the remainder of the Committee.  


  • Abstain: a Vote by a Committee member that he or she is unable to judge a Report in a professional manner, or, a Vote by a Committee member that insufficient material is currently available to judge a Report competently, coupled with a belief that additional useful material should become available in the foreseeable future. In the latter situation, a Vote to Abstain allows the remaining Committee members possibly to reach a Decision, whereas by remaining Undecided, a Committee member effectively blocks a Decision from being reached. 
  • Accept: A Vote by a Committee member that the evidence provided, taken in its entirety, proves convincingly that the species claimed in a Report was correctly identified, and that its appearance by a Committee member that the evidence published or otherwise available proves both identity and Establishment. 
  • Acceptance: A Decision by the Committee to consider a Report to be valid as a Record, and if the species is not currently on the State List, to add it thereto. Criteria for Acceptance are: 7 Accepts; or, 6 Accepts and either 1 Non-accept or 1 Abstain; or 5 Accepts and 2 Abstains. 
  • AOU: The American Ornithologists’ Union.   Committee: The Florida Ornithological Society Records
  • Committee as defined in Article VI, Section 5, of the Society’s By-laws (unless the context clearly pertains to a different Committee).  
  • Decision: a Vote by all current members of the Committee, resulting in Acceptance, Non-acceptance, or Non-resolution of a Report or similar matter before it. A Decision is not a Final Decision (q.v.).  
  • Disestablished / Disestablishment: Reversal of a prior judgment that an Exotic species had attained Establishment in Florida. Disestablishment may take either of two forms: the Committee may reach a Decision that an earlier judgment of Establishment was in error, or, the Committee may reach a Decision that an Exotic species in fact met the criteria for Establishment in the past but subsequently declined to the point of extirpation in Florida. Disestablishment is discussed more fully in Appendix A.  
  • Established / Establishment: An Exotic species which has been clearly and convincingly shown to have a sufficiently large and successfully wild-reproducing population in Florida that its indefinite persistence by natural means (rather than by continued releases) in the Committee’s judgment may reasonably be predicted. Establishment is discussed more fully in Appendix A.  
  • Exotic: A species shown to have appeared in Florida by means of the intentional intervention of man, or one for which intentional human intervention is far more plausible that Natural Appearance.  
  • Final Decision: A Decision of the Committee affirmed by all members in a face-to-face meeting. The intent is to assure that members have an opportunity to change their Vote (or to engage in further review) after hearing other members’ viewpoints.  
  • Florida: All the area accorded to the government of Florida by generally recognized law and treaty ("legal Florida"), plus all the offshore area both with200 miles of any point of land in legal Florida, and nearer to such point of land than to land in any other generally recognized legal jurisdiction.  
  • Natural Appearance: The reasonably plausible appearance of a species from its home range without the intentional intervention of man. A bird which passively rides a ship or other men-made conveyance shall be considered to have occurred naturally if it is not confined or restrained at all during its passage, and if its survival en route is not based upon significant human intervention such as continual provision of food and water actually consumed. Natural Appearance need not (indeed, usually cannot) be proven; it need only be reasonably plausible based upon the biology of the species and any other known relevant factors including the circumstances of its appearance.  
  • Non-accept: A Vote by a committee member that the evidence provided, taken in its entirety, fails to prove convincingly that the species claimed in a Report was correctly identified, and that its appearance represents a Natural Appearance; or if pertaining to a claim of Establishment of an Exotic: a Vote by a committee member that the evidence published or otherwise available fails to prove both identity and Establishment.  
  • Non-acceptance: A Decision by the Committee to consider a Report insufficiently supported to be a Record, following the Vote of all 7 current Committee members. Criteria for Non-acceptance are 7 Non-accepts: or, 6 Non-accepts and either 1 Accept or 1 Abstain; or 5 Non-accepts and 2 Abstains.  
  • Non-resolution: A Decision by the Committee other than Acceptance or Non-acceptance. A Final Decision of Non-resolution cancels all Votes and requires re-initiation of the review process.  
  • Published Account: Written material in a scientific publication such as a technical book or refereed journal, that offers or makes reference to evidence of a species in Florida that of properly presented, would manifestly qualify for review by the Committee. The Committee’s rationale in reviewing such evidence without a signed request to do so is that its publication in effect invites such review. The Committee intends to invoke this definition only under the most compelling circumstances, considering most published claims to be simple Reports.  
  • Record: A Report or Published Account Accepted by a Final Decision of the Committee. Records without Verifiable Evidence shall be so annotated, as shall species on the State List for which no Verifiable Evidence exists.  
  • Report: Any claim of a species’ presence, whither or not published or supported by evidence, that has not been accorded Acceptance by a Decision of the Committee.  
  • Review List: A list of species on the State List for which Reports are reviewed by the Committee. The listed species are those whose status is poorly known or documented in Florida. Normally, a species with 10 Acceptances will be removed from the list if at least one is Verifiable, but the Committee may remove species from the list, or retain species on the list, as it believes best serves the interests of Florida ornithology. The review List may include Sibling Species Groups as well as species. (Note: species not on the State List, which may plausibly occur in Florida by Natural Appearance, or which may be Established Exotics, are implicitly on the Review List).  
  • Secretary: one or more individuals duly chosen by the Committee to perform particular duties as stated in these rules and procedures, for as long as the individual(s) remain chosen and agree to serve as herein set forth.  
  • Sibling Species Group: a group of two or more species ( as designated by the AOU) which the Committee determines ordinarily cannot be identified specifically by customary field techniques when occurring in Florida. If any of the component species has been identified in Florida to the Committee’s satisfaction, this designation shall not be used, and reports that cannot be positely assigned to the species identified in Florida shall not be accepted, unless the Committee in its entirety believes that making a particular exception best serves Florida ornithology. An example of a Sibling Species Group might be Pacific-slope/ Cordilleran Flycatcher (Empidonax difficilis occidentalis).  
  • State List: A list of bird species definitely having occurred in Florida by Natural Appearance or by Establishment of an Exotic. The base list shall be the Supplement: Checklist of Florida Birds, pp. 255-260 in Robertson & Woolfenden(1992), as updated by Final Decisions of the Committee. Established Exotics; extinct native species and Disestablished Exotics; and species listed without Verifiable Evidence shall be so annotated. Sibling Species Groups may be included without reference to a particular underlying species but shall not be counted in any total of species found in Florida unless none of the underlying species are on the State List.  
  • Undecided: The state of a Committee member’s mind with respect to any matter, prior to that member’s Vote on that matter. Committee members are expected to remain Undecided until they feel they have sufficient information and relevant experience to render judgment in a professional, informed ,unbiased manner.   Verifiable: A Report supported by, or evidence consisting in part of, an unequivocal specimen, photograph, tape recording, or other tangible and unqualified method of establishing the species’ identity beyond all reasonable doubt. To be Verifiable , the Report or evidence must be cataloged in a curated collection and be accompanied by credible supporting documentation that the material pertains to the species’ occurrence in Florida as claimed. The word ‘unequivocal’ is vital; the mere existence of evidence is immaterial unless it definitely and unambiguously establishes identity and the location where obtained. To be considered verifiable the evidence must also be readily available to future investigators.  
  • Vote: The act by a Committee member of completing a ballot on a matter following reaching his or her own independent decision on that matter, and submitting that ballot to the Secretary. As a noun, Vote is a completed ballot submitted to the Secretary, individually or collectively.  


  1. Philosophy: The Committee follows a philosophy about Exotic species similar to that of the AOU and most other ornithological organizations. Exotic birds are not really part of the avifauna and do not have a place on the State List until they are demonstrated to have or be part of an established, self-supporting population breeding freely in the wild. Information on the occurrence of unestablished Exotics has value, however, particularly for species whose ecological requirements are such that potentially they might become Established in Florida.  
  2. Exotic Report log. As indicated in Duties of the Secretary paragraph 1.c., the Secretary shall maintain a log of Reports of Exotic species in Florida regardless of Establishment. This log is primarily intended for Reports provided to the Committee, but the Secretary may also enter published but unpresented Reports of species in Florida considered Exotic, rather than entering them into the published claim log referred to under Secretary’s Duties paragraph 2.a. (intended for circulatable Reports), or ignoring them altogether. The Secretary shall bring the Exotic Report log and underlying files to each Committee Meeting. As an agenda item, the Committee shall review the log and file and decide on a case-by-case basis whether to agree with the Secretary’s designation, or to treat a given Report as possibly pertaining to Natural Appearance. A vote by two members of the Committee shall deny continued treatment of the report as Exotic. Reports denied continuing Exotic treatment shall be transferred to the appropriate log: circulatable Reports, precirculatable Reports, or published claims, and shall be handled accordingly. Reports retaining Exotic treatment shall be logged out to the Society’s archives, along with each page of the log itself as all items on that page are disposed of . If sent to the archives, in the case of provided Reports, the Secretary shall write a letter of acknowledgment and disposition to the provider, making clear that identification or provenance.  
  3. Criteria for Establishment.  An exotic species (see Glossary) may appear in Florida because of deliberate transport and release by humans, or because of inadvertent escape from captivity.  Some of these species may establish feral populations in one part of Florida and then spread to other parts of the state, or may persist locally as a small population indefinitely.  Other such local groups may disappear quickly, or only after a prolonged period of persistence.  Different exotic species will respond differently to release into Florida environments because of variation among them in their physiological, ecological, and behavioral characteristics and requirements, which will ordinarily be largely unknown or speculative. An exotic species will be deemed “established” in Florida if a stable or increasing population of that species has persisted continuously in one or more areas for at least 15 years (Persistence Criterion) and meets one or both of the following additional criteria:
    • a.  An exotic species that has exhibited rapid population growth by widely evident natural reproduction, accompanied by evidence of extensive range expansion within (and perhaps beyond) Florida, may be deemed “established.”  The example of the Eurasian Collared-Dove in Florida during the late 20th century provides a model application of this rule (Population Growth and Range Expansion criteria), even though the origin of this species in the state may be in doubt.  See 3b for publication requirement  
    • b.  An exotic species for which there is acceptable evidence that successful nesting (fledged young) is a characteristic of one or more local populations of several hundred individuals, that this nesting activity is recruiting young adults into the population(s), that (if applicable) the population(s) have exhibited resilience in the face of major perturbations such as hurricanes or habitat disruptions, and that there is little or no evidence that ongoing releases play a significant role in population maintenance, may be deemed “established,” but only after such evidence as is available has been published in at least one scientific source (e.g., peer-reviewed journal, technical book), or after this evidence has been amassed by a Committee member or some other interested individual and reviewed by the Committee.  In the last instance, a detailed analysis of the issue must be published in a suitable scientific source if a judgment of Establishment is rendered by the Committee.  Furthermore, by extension, the requirement for publication applies to species considered “established” under section 3a as well.  
    • c. Species that occur or have occurred in Florida as a result of unassisted vagrancy or dispersal from an Exotic population outside Florida, which clearly meets all tests of Establishment within their range, shall be evaluated as if they were Naturally Appearing even though they are Exotic.  Thus, the placement of the House Finch on the State List, for example, does not require that it be evaluated for Establishment within Florida.  
  4. Criteria for Disestablishment: A species designated as an Established Exotic on the State List shall be considered disestablished if the following applies: the Committee determines that the exotic species, which was previously deemed to have been established as a viable population with a definable range in Florida, has become naturally extirpated in that range.  
  5. Review procedures. The Committee shall review the status of any Exotic species if a credible scientific publication suggests that its status on the State List (present as Established, or absent) is incorrect, or if any 5 members of the Committee requests a review. A review shall also be undertaken if a credible scientific publication suggests that the taxonomic treatment of an Established Exotic on the State List may be incorrect, notwithstanding present treatment by the AOU. The Committee shall follow the following special procedures in reviewing the status of an Exotic species in Florida in addition to the normal procedures for reviewing Reports which shall include using the deliberation progress log as appropriate to monitor review of these matters:
    • a. When reviewing an Exotic species for a new designation of Established as set forth above in paragraph 3.ff.; whether the population’s identity and taxonomy is adequately known and Verifiable; and whether these subjects are adequately documented in a credible scientific publication. If adequate documentation does not exist, the Committee may not Vote until such documentation is published, but it should encourage the Society’s members or others, including the Committee’s own members, to undertake such research and to publish the results. The Vote thresholds to reach a Decision are the same as for Naturally Appearing vagrants.  
    • b. When reviewing an Established Exotic for possible Disestablishment, the Committee shall first publish a call for evidence of the continued persistence of a viable population of that species in Florida and should allow sufficient time, not less than one year, for that evidence to be collected and provided by the Society’s members and others. If an Established Exotic fails to meet the criteria set forth above in paragraph 3.ff., the Committee shall make a further determination whether the species should be treated under paragraph 4.a.. as never having been Established , or under 4.b. as formerly Established. Voting thresholds to reach a Decision shall be the same as for other matters. If the Committee decides that paragraph 4.a. applies, the species shall be removed from the State List. If the Committee determines that paragraph 4.b. applies, the species shall be retained on the State List but annotated that a viable population no longer exists.  
    • c. When reviewing as Established Exotic for possibly incorrect taxonomic treatment, the Committee shall examine all salient literature, specimens both from natural populations and from those Established in Florida, and all other relevant material. If , after this review, the sense of the Committee is that the current taxonomic treatment by the AOU Check-List of the population Established in Florida is incorrect, it shall encourage FOS members, other ornithologists, or its own members to publish a scholarly paper that sets forth the issues and proposes a resolution. Upon publication of such material, the Committee shall call it to the attention of the AOU Check-List Committee and request their review if such review has not already been undertaken. The Records Committee shall be bound by the published taxonomic and nomenclatural treatment in the AOU Check-List and its supplements.