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The Return of RSEC, Recording Standards take Center Stage

Greetings to the ABA membership!

If any of you have had the opportunity to peruse Birder’s Guide to Listing & Taxonomy, then you might have seen the short article on the “resurrection” of the ABA’s new Recording Standards and Ethics Committee (or RSEC). It was mentioned in that article that the RSEC would like to be accessible to the membership via some sort of online presence, and we hope to begin that here.

The mission statement of this committee is as follows:

“The Recording Standards and Ethics Committee shall establish and amend the rules and procedures for the submission to, and publication by, the Association, of both bird lists and Big Day Reports, and shall be responsible for the wording of the Association Code of Birding Ethics, and will address policy concerns regarding issues of birding ethics as they apply to the Association. In submitting such lists or reports a member shall be required to adhere to the decisions of this committee as approved by the board.”

The RSEC is composed of five at-large ABA members who have voting privileges and two at-large ABA staff members who do not have voting privileges. The current voting members of the RSEC are Matt Fraker (Carlock, Illinois – Chair), Nick Block (Lewisburg, Pennsylvania), Shawneen Finnegan (Portland, Oregon), Jennifer Rycenga (Half Moon Bay, California), and Greg Miller (Sugar Creek, Ohio); the two current non-voting members from the ABA staff are Jeff Gordon and George Armistead. This committee meets by teleconference every other month. In the near future, we will be posting short biographies of the five current voting members.

From L to R: Matt Fraker, Nick Block, Shawneen Finnegan, Greg Miller (photo (C) Gloria Nikolai), and Jennifer Rycenga (photo (C) Peggy Macres).

From L to R: Matt Fraker, Nick Block, Shawneen Finnegan, Greg Miller (photo (C) Gloria Nikolai), and Jennifer Rycenga (photo (C) Peggy Macres).

The initial one to two years will be very busy ones for the RSEC as we take a close look at the current recording standards and ethics to see which ones need updating or revising. It seems that there is some general consensus among members that many of these guidelines need to be “improved” in some manner, and we hope to do that to the best of our abilities. When dealing with the recording standards and ethical issues, the decisions reached by RSEC will be made with the goal of ensuring the best interests of the ABA membership and really all birders interested in birding ethics and listing. We welcome civil discussion and feedback as conversations arise and RSEC decisions are reached. Please do not hesitate to reach out to us on ethical birding issues or listing questions, because soon we will begin dealing with a myriad of hot topics concerning these issues. Surely, considerable discussion will transpire over these issues, and having open conversations, with civility in mind, should be educational for all of us. We welcome your comments and suggestions.

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Matt Fraker

Matt Fraker

In 2005, Matt Fraker and Sherri Thornton acquired the 160 acre Scovill-Ball farm in central Illinois' Mackinaw Valley, which along with a 52 acre property to the west, sits amidst the 2000 acre plus Mackinaw Bluffs Corridor Natural Area in southeast Woodford County of Illinois. Their ongoing conservation efforts include prairie restoration, bottomland forest restoration, savanna restoration and management of the ParkLands Foundation nature preserves. Matt owns the Prairie Oak Veterinary Center in Bloomington, IL and is very active with the ParkLands Foundation which protects and ecologically restores historic natural lands in the middle and upper Mackinaw Valley watershed in central Illinois. Matt has been birding longer than he can remember. His 100th bird was a Little Blue Heron he saw in Florida when he was six. After graduating from vet school, he spent 12 years using his free time travelling North America with his dog, "Hobbs". Now, with three children and his extremely patient wife, he has since been working his way towards "the 700 club", while keeping tabs on several birding hotspots in central Illinois. Matt is also a member of the ABA Board of Directors.
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