Bylaws and Policies

Michigan Bird Records Committee Bylaws

Updated January 6th, 2023 to include the policies that have been passed by the committee.

A. Purpose of the Committee
1. To develop and maintain the official list of Michigan birds and to define the status of each species on that list.

2. To develop and maintain a list of accepted records of birds unusual to Michigan.

3. To determine the acceptability of written documentation, photographs, audio recordings, or specimens of birds unusual to Michigan for inclusion in the permanent list of records.

4. To provide information on Michigan birds as requested by other organizations, governmental agencies, and private individuals where deemed appropriate by this committee.

5. To educate birders in methods of keeping records and documenting observations of birds, especially of unusual species, and to encourage such record keeping and documentation.

B. Structure of the Committee
1. The Michigan Bird Records Committee (MBRC) shall be an autonomous body that serves in an advisory capacity to Michigan Audubon’s Research Program. The MBRC shall consist of seven regular members, and two additional members who will be considered first and second alternates. Alternates will vote on each submitted record, but their votes will be tallied only in the absence of a vote or votes by regular voting members. At meetings, alternates will vote on all matters before the committee and all members have the same status on procedural votes.

2. Each year, committee members will elect by a majority vote of the full committee a Chairperson and a Secretary for the following year. The Chairperson can be filled by a current committee member, or by a former member who has been re-elected to the committee after at least a year’s absence. The Chairperson shall be responsible for calling meetings, presiding over the meetings, assuring that the bylaws are properly applied, and soliciting nominations to fill committee vacancies. The Secretary can be filled by a current committee member, a former member who has been re-elected to the committee, or a former member not currently serving as a regular or alternate member. The Secretary shall be responsible for obtaining necessary documentation, submitting documentation to the committee, maintaining records, and keeping minutes of all meetings.  If the acting Secretary is not a current regular or alternate member, meeting minutes will be kept by an active member chosen by a majority vote of those in attendance at the meeting. The committee members shall determine the policies of the committee, document all review species personally identified in Michigan, vote on all records submitted for evaluation, attend meetings, and carry out other activities as needed. Decisions on policy shall be based on majority vote. Bylaw changes require a 2/3 vote of the full committee. All proposed bylaws changes must be presented in writing to the committee at least 14 days prior to a scheduled meeting. Votes on the final motion will be due 30 days after the meeting.

3. Qualifications for appointment to the committee shall include skill in identification of Michigan bird species or species likely to occur in Michigan and knowledge of the occurrence of birds in Michigan. New members are admitted as alternates unless there are three or more vacancies among the regular members, in which case a new member may be admitted with regular status. A term will last three years, with a new member’s term beginning when they become a regular member. After a member has served a full term, one year must pass before they are eligible to again serve on the committee.

4. Replacement of committee members shall be by a majority vote of the members of the committee from names submitted for consideration by committee members. When there is a vacancy among the regular members, the first alternate moves into that vacancy, the second alternate moves into the first alternate position, and a vote is conducted to fill the second alternate position.

5. The committee will meet at least twice a year.

6. Written documentation, photographs, and/or audio recordings will be submitted to members quarterly, corresponding to the Michigan Seasonal Survey periods; at meetings; or as the need arises.

C. Michigan Bird List
1. The Michigan Bird List shall contain species for which acceptable documentation is available. These species will be classified as follows:

  1. Regular: Species that have been recorded in at least nine of the last 10 years or have over 30 records in the last 10 years.
  2. Casual: Species that have been recorded more than three times, but 30 or fewer times, in the last 10 years, and were recorded in fewer than nine of the last 10 years.
  3. Accidental: Species that have been recorded three or fewer times in the last 10 years.
  4. Extirpated: Species that no longer exist in the state but are present elsewhere in their range and are unlikely to return without assistance.
  5. Extinct: Species that no longer exist in any location.

2. Once a year the actions of the committee will be submitted to Michigan Birds and Natural History or the current state publication.

3. The University of Michigan Museum of Zoology shall be the prime repository of specimens, recordings, photographs, and written documentation of Michigan birds. The Secretary shall be responsible for maintaining a second repository for storing duplicate materials.

4. Vote rationales and meeting minutes will be recorded and copies of those documents will be kept by both the Chairperson and Secretary. Final vote rationales, with voter names redacted, will be made available to anyone following a request to the Chairperson.

D. Species Requiring Action
1. The committee shall maintain a list of species requiring documentation. This list will include all species that have casual or accidental status in the state, possible first state records, and species deemed necessary by the committee. When a species changes from accidental or casual status to regular status, it shall remain on the review list for a period of three years after the year it attained regular status. If, after the three year period, the species maintains regular status, it shall be removed from the review list. The review list will be published regularly in Michigan Birds and Natural History or the current state publication.

2. It will be the responsibility of the Chairperson and Secretary to determine whether to submit records which are not on the list requiring documentation for action by the committee.

E. Voting Criteria
1. In the first round, records are accepted with a vote of 7-0 or 6-1, resubmitted with a vote of 5-2 or 4-3, and rejected with a vote of 3-4 or less. In the second round, a record is accepted with a vote of 7-0, 6-1, or 5-2. This applies to all records, including first state records.

2. Resubmissions will be discussed at a meeting before being circulated for the second vote.

  1. No person, whether a member of the committee or not, will be present when his or her record is discussed for resubmission.
  2. For a record that is to be resubmitted, members who are physically present for the resubmission discussion will be given voting priority over members who are absent.
    1. If more than seven members are present, then for those present the standard voting hierarchy will be followed.
    2. If fewer than seven are present, so that votes from one or more absentees are needed, then – regarding the absentees – votes from regular members will be used on a first-come basis, and regular members will be given priority over alternates (assuming votes were cast by the deadline stipulated in E.4).

3. Any committee member can request a revote on any record. If a majority of the Committee approves the request, then there will be a new vote on the record in question.

4. Members will have 30 days from the distribution date to submit their votes. Each vote must be accompanied by a rationale. If votes from regular members are not received by this deadline or lack a rationale, the votes of the first and second alternates will be used in order as available, as long as they also meet the above requirements.

5. Members will abstain from voting on records for which they have submitted documentation; members will not abstain on any other votes. When it is not possible to get seven votes for a record, votes will be solicited from past committee members, starting with the most recently replaced member and going back in succession until there are enough eligible and willing voters; in cases where more than one committee member rotated off the committee at the same time, those committee members will be contacted simultaneously and the first to respond positively will be used. Past committee members will be given seven days to respond to the solicitation before the next past committee member is contacted.

Michigan Bird Records Committee Policy List

1) Committee members use the name of “Michigan Bird Records Committee” in the by-line of articles for publication shall require approval of two-thirds of the full committee.
2) Meetings are closed to the public. Any information not recorded in the meeting minutes is private and cannot be shared with anyone not present at the meeting or included in vote rationales.
3) Minutes from this date forward [December 2007] will be published.
4) A committee meeting is defined as members of Michigan Bird records Committee who are physically present at a meeting. Members who are not physically present are excluded form the meeting.
5) Committee members are forbidden from contacting observers independently for additional information about records during the review process.
6) If a committee member feels outside expert commentary is warranted on a record under review, that member should immediately notify the entire committee of their desire for outside commentary. Thereafter, the gathering (or not) of such outside commentary will be decided by a majority vote of the entire committee.
7) Vote rationales of each member will be distributed to all members at the conclusion of each round of voting.
8) A group picture of the committee will be published on the website each year.
9) The meeting minutes will be approved by members via an email vote after a short but reasonable interval after their initial distribution to members.
10) Beginning with 2019 records, the usual correspondence to observers regarding the outcome of their records would be moved to a periodic public posting of the same on the MBRC Facebook page.