Across the country state records committees were formed to provide some objective evaluation of evidence available to maintain snapshots of the state's avifauna. That evidence consists of a variety of materials - one or more written descriptions, photographs, recordings, or specimens - that combined create a package for review of a record. The committee DOES NOT pass any judgement on individual sightings but simply evaluates the strength of the evidence in hand and whether or not it can withstand the test of time. With the proliferation of digital photos, good photographic evidence strengthens the record.
Reports/documentations are entered into the database via this website. Photos may be attached as well as PDFs of field notes or other supporting information. Periodically the secretary reviews all documentations submitted and assigns them a status of "review" or "no review". All casual and accidental species are reviewed by the committee. Regular species are reviewed by the seasonal field reports editor and may be referred to the committee if additional opinions are desired.
All documents for one sighting (record) are initially reviewed and the record is accepted with a unanimous vote. A majority to accept but not unanimous moves the record to another round of voting. A reviewer with questions about the strength of the evidence must comment on the concerns and those concerns must be addressed by other voters in the next round of voting and in discussion among members. At least six of the seven members must vote to accept on subsequent rounds for the record to be added to Iowa's archives.
Results of committee action may be followed in the various reports found here and published annually in Iowa Bird Life. If you are the submitter of a documentation of a rare bird, the summary of votes and ensuing comments are available to you through "My Documentations".