Bylaws of the
Texas Ornithological Society
TEXAS BIRD RECORDS COMMITTEE
Date of this version: August 18, 2018.
NAME AND AFFILIATION
NAME. The official name of this organization shall be the "Texas Ornithological Society's Texas Bird Records Committee" which may be shortened to the "Texas Bird Records Committee" and is hereafter referred to as the "Committee."
AFFILIATION. This is a standing committee of the Society known as "Texas Ornithological Society," which is hereafter referred to as T.O.S.
Validate records of birds from the state of Texas and adjacent ocean. "Adjacent ocean" is herein defined as that area within 200 nautical miles of the nearest point of land and within a boundary created by a line from the mouth of the Sabine River (29° 41'N 93° 50'W) to the Economic Exclusion Zone (EEZ) boundary at 26°N 93°W. The southern boundary follows the EEZ from the mouth of the Rio Grande eastward to 26°N 93°W.
To solicit, organize, and maintain records, documentation, photographs, video and audio recordings and other materials relative to the birds of Texas. Such records are maintained to serve as reference and research material for professional and/or amateur ornithologists.
Publish at least minimal data on all records receiving a decision.
Provide a means by which sight records can gain acceptance as valuable scientific data by establishing standards of observation and reporting.
Increase knowledge of the birds of Texas.
Keep or cause to keep the official Texas State List.
The Committee and the official Texas State List shall follow the taxonomy of North American Birds as published by the American Ornithological Society in its Check-list of North American Birds and its periodic supplements.
NUMBER AND DEFINITIONS. The Committee shall consist of ten to twelve people, as follows: six to eight "Members," plus a "Secretary," an "Academician," a "Chairman," and the President of T.O.S (or someone he/she designates as needed). For the purposes of these Bylaws, the Secretary and the Chairman are not considered "Members." There must be 9 “Voting Members”. The term "Voting Member" includes the six to eight Members and the Chairman. The Secretary and Academician may optionally serve as Voting Members in which case there are six Members if both are Voting Members, seven Members if either the Secretary or the Academician serve, and eight Members if neither the Secretary or the Academician serve as Voting Members. . The President of T.O.S. is a non-voting member of the Committee in all cases of bird records and in other elections. However, he/she will be a tie breaking vote in an election of a new Member if the Committee remains tied after two additional ballots. In situations where the President of T.O.S. is also a Voting Member, he/she will designate someone else to provide the tie breaking vote. See III. C. (1) (a).
QUALIFICATIONS. Anyone is eligible to become a Member if, in the estimation of the existing Voting Members, that person has demonstrated an expert ability in and knowledge of field identification of birds and is a member in good standing of the Texas Ornithological Society.
Election and term of office
The six Members shall be elected on a staggered basis, each for a term of three years so that two will be elected each year. Election shall be by vote of a quorum present in person or represented by written ballot at the Annual Meeting of the Committee; proxies shall not be used in this election, but an absent Voting Member may vote by indicating his choices to the Secretary in writing prior to the meeting. The two candidates receiving the largest number of votes shall be elected; if necessary, ties shall be decided by an additional ballot(s) listing only those persons tied. If, after two additional ballots there remains a tie vote, the President of T.O.S. (or the person he/she designated) shall be the tie breaking vote.
Members take office at the close of the Annual Meeting at which they were elected and serve until the close of the third Annual Meeting after election or until their successors are elected. The Members-Elect may, at the discretion of the existing Committee, be seated, with or without vote, during the remainder of the Annual Meeting at which they were elected. However, an outgoing member in attendance, if he should choose to vote, that vote shall not be superseded by the vote of the Member-Elect in any case.
Members may serve two consecutive full terms, after which they must retire until the next Annual Meeting before they may be considered for reelection.
Nominations. Nomination of Members shall be made only by Voting Members and only in writing to the Secretary at least 30 days prior to the Annual Meeting. It is the responsibility of the nominator to obtain approval of willingness to serve from the nominee he submits. Each nominator may make a maximum of one nomination per each vacancy, and may not nominate himself. If the total number of nominees is not sufficient to fill the vacant seats, it is the responsibility of the Secretary to nominate the number of persons required. The Secretary shall send the names of the nominees to all Voting Members at least three weeks in advance of the Annual Meeting.
In additions to the Qualifications of Membership above, the Secretary may simultaneously serve as Secretary and as a Voting Member, but need not be both.
Election and term of office.
The Secretary shall be elected for a term of one year. Election shall be by vote of a quorum present in person, not by proxy or ballot, at an Annual Meeting of the Committee. The present Secretary will not vote in such an election, but the Secretary's presence shall be included in the necessary numbers of Voting Members present to constitute a quorum.
The Secretary takes office at the close of the Annual Meeting at which he was elected and serves until the close of the next Annual Meeting or until his successor is elected.
The Secretary may serve an unlimited number of terms.
Receive, circulate, recirculate and file all bird records and supporting data submitted to the Committee. Whenever possible the records should be the originals, since copies fade with age.
Vote on bird records (see Voting) and in all elections if the Secretary is a voting member.
Procure additional data on records when deemed desirable and possible by a Voting Member and especially when a record is to come up for discussion at a meeting of the Committee; prior to any meeting, furnish Voting Members with a list of post-third-circulation records to be discussed.
Tabulate records of all votes of the Committee, including votes on bird records.
Keep or cause to keep the minutes of Committee meetings.
Keep current the Review List, furnish it to anyone upon request, and publish it in the TOS Newsletter or TOS Bulletin, preferably with each Annual Report.
Furnish Voting Members with such equipment as needed, including Validation Forms.
Furnish Voting Members with a list of nominees for election to Member at least three weeks prior to the Annual Meeting.
Furnish anyone, upon request, with information concerning any accepted or rejected bird record. (A nominal fee may be requested to cover cost of postage and photo copies). Furnish the above information free of charge to the individual who initially reported the record to the Committee if that individual so requests.
Furnish Report Forms to anyone upon request and free of charge.
Keep current a master copy of these Bylaws.
Qualifications. In addition to the Qualifications of Membership above, the Academician must be affiliated with an academic institution, and have recognized expertise in the field of ornithology. The Academician may simultaneously serve as Academician and as a Voting Member, but need not be both.
Election and term of office.
The Academician shall be elected for a term of one year. Election shall be by vote of a quorum present in person, not by proxy or ballot, at an Annual Meeting of the Committee.
The Academician takes office at the close of the Annual Meeting at which he was elected and serves until the close of the next Annual Meeting or until his successor is elected.
The Academician may serve an unlimited number of terms.
The Academician shall maintain a relationship between the Committee and the professional ornithological community, including but not limited to the Biodiversity Teaching & Research Collections, the Texas Bird Sounds Library, and the Texas Photo Record File.
Vote on bird records (see Voting) and in all elections if the Academician is a Voting Member.
Qualifications. In addition to the Qualifications of Membership above, the Chairman must not at the same time be both Chairman and one of the six to eight Members.
The Chairman shall be nominated at an Annual Meeting by the Committee, and shall serve for a term of two years with eligibility for reappointment by the Committee. The appointment of the Chairman shall be automatically approved by the President of the Texas Ornithological Society unless the candidate of the Committee is found by the President of TOS to not be a TOS member in good standing.
Call and preside at Committee meetings.
Appoint chairmen of subcommittees.
Assure that the current Bylaws are properly applied.
Vote on bird records (see Voting) and in all elections.
Direct and assist the Secretary in the carrying out of his duties.
If the Secretary shall be unable to serve, or unable to attend any meeting, the Chairman shall act as Secretary in all respects.
Furnish contributors or other interested parties with information regarding Committee comments and reasons for Committee decisions on any specific accepted or rejected record. The Chairman, upon receipt of such a request, will appoint a Member to draft a detailed response to the person(s) making the request.
Make available all information, including Committee comments on any record, to interested parties in person at Texas A&M University.
REMOVALS. The Committee may remove, for cause, the Secretary or Voting Members who are delinquent in their duties. Such action requires a vote of the majority of all other Voting Members, not merely a quorum. A removal must be accomplished at a meeting of the Committee; absent Voting Members may vote by written ballot to the Committee.
VACANCIES AND SPECIAL ELECTIONS. If the Committee loses a Member during mid-term (through death, resignation, removal, etc.), the Secretary shall immediately conduct an election, termed a Special Election, for the purpose of filling the vacancy. A Special Election may be conducted at a meeting or by individual contact with the Voting Members via e-mail. The manner of nomination and election shall be similar, with appropriate exceptions if via e-mail, to the regular selection of a Member in III. C. (1) above. The person elected shall serve the unexpired term of the person being replaced.
ANNUAL MEETING. An Annual Meeting of the Committee shall be held once a year, at a time and place set by the Chairman, in consultation with the Members, for the purpose of election and for transacting such other business as may be brought before the meeting. Whether an actual physical meeting will be held will be determined by the Chairman and Secretary, in consultation with the Members, based on the business before the Committee. When appropriate, a proxy meeting may be held via email, Internet conferencing, or by conference call. The Secretary must give to all Voting Members prior notice of the Annual Meeting, together with an agenda and a list of nominees for Member.
SPECIAL MEETINGS. Special Meetings of the Committee may be called by the Chairman or by agreement of five or more Voting Members, or in the Chairman's absence by the Secretary. Whoever calls the meeting, or the Secretary, must notify and provide an agenda to each Voting Member prior to the meeting.
QUORUM. Five Voting Members in good standing, present in person physically or virtually, not by proxy, shall constitute a quorum for any meeting of the Committee.
FORMATION. All Bylaws and other procedures of the Committee are to be determined by and only by the Committee, except that they may not be inconsistent with the Bylaws of the Texas Ornithological Society or with rules of the Executive Board of TOS.
REVIEW. The Bylaws shall be reviewed regularly, at least once every three years, by the Committee.
CHANGES. These Bylaws may be changed by a majority vote of a quorum at any Committee meeting.
DEFINITIONS. For the purposes of this Committee and these Bylaws, a "record" is considered to be written documentation submitted to the Committee as proof of the identity of a sighted, heard, collected, banded or photographed bird. The "Review List" is that most recent list of species that will be accepted for review by the Committee.
Records only from the state of Texas and adjacent ocean (as defined in II. A.) will be treated.
The species treated will be determined from time to time by the Committee. In general, the Review List will consist of species that have occurred within Texas and adjacent ocean four or fewer times per year in each of the ten years immediately preceding revision of the Review List. By majority vote of quorum at a meeting, the Committee may, as it sees fit, add other species to the Review List, such as those whose identification is difficult. Records of species not on the Review List, but for which there are no accepted record for Texas, will be treated.
The Presumptive List includes a list of species for which written descriptions of sight records have been accepted by the Committee but the species has not yet met the requirements for full acceptance on the Texas List (verifiable specimen, photo, or tape recording for at least one record). These may include records with photographs or specimens where the physical documentation can not be clearly assigned to a specific species (i.e. can only be assigned to genus).
Special rule for changing status and/or observer coverage.
Notwithstanding the criterion in B(2), any committee member may petition the Committee to remove a species from the Review List if the species can be demonstrated or comfortably presumed to be more abundant than the number of accepted records presently indicates. Such cases will generally fall into two categories:
Increasing Abundance. A species which, because of actual increasing abundance (based on evidence in Texas and elsewhere) shows a clear upward trend in numbers of accepted records (per year) presumed by the Committee not to be part of a short-term cyclical trend and which is anticipated to continue to exceed the criterion for retention on the List (i.e., more than four records per year).
Under-Reported Species. A species historically and regularly occurring in Texas in small to moderate numbers but which for reasons of limited observer coverage, access, and/or limited reporting, has not exceeded the criterion for retention on the List. A significant upward trend in numbers of accepted records (per year) must be demonstrated. (An implicit assumption is that at full coverage or optimal reporting levels, the species would well exceed the criterion for retention on the List.).
The petitioning member must submit written documentation to substantiate the purported patterns of historical abundance, and/or recent trends in abundance and/or access, coverage, or reporting.
Any such petition to remove a species by this special rule shall be acted on only at the annual meeting and may only be adopted by a unanimous vote of members in attendance at the meeting.
The criteria for inclusion on the Review List, and the species listed, will be reviewed by the Committee at least once every three years.
The Secretary will be sure that the Review List is duplicated, made available to all who request it, and published in the TOS Newsletter or TOS Bulletin, preferably with each Annual Report.
Records representing species heretofore unrecorded in the state shall require (i) an extant specimen identified by a recognized authority together with convincing evidence that the specimen was obtained within the state of Texas or adjacent ocean (as defined in II. A.), or (ii) one or more photographs or tape recordings that clearly demonstrate definitive characters in order to be accepted to the official state list. Records not representing species unrecorded in the state and based on specimens, photographs, video & audio recordings, or bandings shall be treated in the same manner as sight records.
Any record, whether published or not, old or new, may be submitted by a Voting Member or other person, whether or not an observer, if he has first attempted to obtain details from the observer(s). An exception to this is a record that has received previous Committee decision (see Resubmission).
Records concerning species that are only locally or temporally rare in Texas will be treated at the discretion of the Committee. In general, the Committee will only treat species that are included in the Review List, however, because of the size and geographic diversity of Texas, a record of a great rarity in any of the T.O.S. Regions will be accepted for review at the request of any T.O.S. Regional Director, or any member of the Committee. In order to request such a review the record need merely be sent to the Secretary.
From time to time, there may be records considered that can not be identified to species but are worth documenting. Records in this category include those records where the identity might only be determinable to a genus-level or a particular species-pair. For these records, the submission would name the genus-level or species pair that the record pertains to, and the committee would treat the record at that level, not at a specific species-level. Which genus-level and species-pair records that are considered is at the discretion of the committee and is subject to change.
Forms or subspecies will not be treated unless listed as such on the Review List.
SUBMISSION. Records should be, but need not be, submitted on the Committee's official Report Form. The Secretary should see that these forms are readily available at no charge to all who request them.
RESUBMISSION. A record that has received a final Committee decision, whether accepted or rejected, and even though published in the Committee Annual Report, may be resubmitted by a Voting Member, an observer, or any other person, if and only if there becomes available new and substantial documentary evidence that might reverse the decision. For a record rejected because of questionable origin, such evidence might include the recognition of a natural pattern of occurrence. Such a record must be resubmitted and circulated as if never before submitted, except that it should be accompanied by all previous votes and comments of the Committee, its publication status, and all new evidence marked as such.
Initial Receipt by Secretary. Upon receipt of a record, the Secretary should do the following:
Affix to it a unique number, consisting of the year of the receipt (not the year of the sighting) followed by a hyphen and the next available unused number, starting with "1", for that year. If a record is represented by descriptions from more than one person, each description should receive the same number followed by a letter in sequence beginning with "A".
Record in a safe place at least the name of the reporter, the name of the bird species, the date and locality of the record, and the record's number.
Check the description for completeness and clarity and, if deemed desirable, request additional information from the reporter or other observers. Details thus acquired must be clearly marked as such and kept separate from the original submission; the original submission should not be returned to the reporter except in copy form.
At Secretary’s discretion, a record shall be accepted (see Voting section) through an Expedited Review where the record is not formally circulated nor formally voted on by members. Expedited records must have physical documentation (photo, recording, specimen) included that the Secretary considers strong enough for a unanimous (9-0) vote if circulated.
Primary factors for Expedited Review should include the number of accepted records against a low number of rejected records (that had physical documentation), distinctive field marks/plumages, likelihood of natural occurrence, and if the record has already been reviewed by other committees/groups.
Vote on the record (see Voting) if the Secretary is a Voting Member.
Send the record (along with other records, if desired) to each Voting Member along with a cover sheet, which must list the numbers both of the record(s) and the circulation round.
Receipt by a Voting Member. Upon receipt of a record, the Voting Member should do the following:
Judge its validity and vote.
Send the completed Validation Form to the Secretary.
A record shall be recirculated automatically, together with the votes and comments of every Voting Member from previous circulations, until it has received a decision vote or until three circulations (two recirculations) have been completed, whichever comes first.
When requested by any Voting Member, the Secretary should solicit additional information from the reporter or other observers for any record that is recirculated. That information shall be included in the subsequent circulation. .
A record that has not received a final decision after three circulations shall be discussed at a meeting of the Committee. The Secretary must inform Voting Members of any post-third-circulation records that will be discussed prior to the meeting. A final decision shall be made at the meeting during an oral fourth and final vote (see VI. F. (11)) among the members present.
A record that has received a "final" decision during its first circulation (but not during its second, third, or fourth circulations) shall nevertheless be recirculated upon request of any Voting Member or if the Secretary feels the Committee's first-circulation comments might alter the decision.
All decisions are final unless a record is to be resubmitted.
Potential First State Records and the Presumptive List. This is for records submitted for species that are not currently on the official Texas State List.
Records submitted for species that are not on the official Texas State List where there is no physical evidence supplied with the record will only be considered for the Presumptive List. The Secretary must indicate on the Validation Form (see Voting) that the record being circulated is only a candidate for the Presumptive List. It is otherwise handled in the same manner as other records except that, if accepted, it will only appear on the Presumptive List.
Records submitted for species that are not on the official Texas State List where there is physical evidence supplied with the record will initially be considered for inclusion on the official Texas State List. Voting Members shall vote on such records based upon the criteria (see Section VI.B.7) to add it to the official Texas State List. If, after the normal voting procedures are completed and the record is Rejected, any member may request that the record be recirculated for inclusion on the Presumptive List. The Secretary will then recirculate the record with the targeted list being the Presumptive List only (as described in the previous paragraph).
Validation Forms. The vote of each Voting Member, together with his/her comments, if any, must be submitted on an official Validation Form. This form must include spaces for at least the (a) record number, (b) name of the species, (c) name of the Committee Voting Member, (d) date of review, (e) number of the circulation, (f) Voting Member's decision, and (g) comments.
Reject, specific identification not established.
Reject, natural occurrence questionable
Reject, establishment of introduced population questionable.
Reject, location within Texas questionable.
NOTE: (b), (c), (d) or (e) are termed "non-accept" votes.
Abstentions: Voting Members may not abstain from voting.
Secretary Vote. The Secretary must vote if he/she is a Voting Member. In that case, on each of the first 3 circulations, he/she must vote prior to sending the record on to other Voting Members (thus without seeing other comments).
Comments. On the first circulation, a "reject" vote should be supported by appropriate comments. On the second, third, and fourth circulations, either a "reject" or "accept" vote should be supported by comments.
Consultations. On the first circulation, a Voting Member should not discuss a record with another Voting Member prior to both having voted. On the second, third, and fourth circulations, pre-vote discussions with other Voting Members are acceptable. On any circulation, a Voting Member may consult anyone outside the Committee before voting.
Voting Criteria. The criteria used by a Voting Member for acceptance or rejection of a record are an individual matter and should not be treated by these Bylaws. Such criteria might include records by single or untrustworthy observers, or records not identified to the satisfaction of the Voting Member.
Change in Members. A circulation in progress at the time a new Member(s) is elected should be completed by the retired Member (except that removed Members do not qualify). Subsequent circulations, and hence in some cases final voting, should be completed by the new Member(s).
Tabulation. The voting results shall be tabulated by the Secretary after all Voting Members have voted.
Decision During the First Three Circulations. On any of the first three circulations, with all Voting Members voting:
A record is considered accepted if it receives no more than one "reject" vote.
A record is considered rejected if it receives five or more "reject" votes.
A record is to be recirculated, or after three circulations is to be presented at a meeting, if it receives votes in any combination other than (a) or (b) above.
Decisions During Fourth Circulations. A record receiving a fourth and final circulation (See VI. E. (3)(c)) shall be accepted if it receives no more than one "reject" vote, and rejected if it receives two or more "reject" votes.
Rejected Records. Any rejected record that receives two or more "reject, specific identification not established" votes will be published as "unaccepted, specific identification not established." All other rejected records will be published either as "unaccepted, natural occurrence questionable", "unaccepted, establishment of introduced population questionable", or as “unaccepted, location within Texas questionable”, whichever receives the most votes; ties between these two categories shall be decided by the Secretary.
Expedited Review records. Records that the Secretary moved to Expedited Review are officially treated as unanimously accepted (9-0) by Voting Members when those records are published in the Annual Report. The Secretary must provide Voting Members details of Expedited records in advance of the Annual Report to allow for an optional informal review by each Voting Member. If any Voting Member requests that any Expedited Reviewed record requires a formal circulation, that request must happen prior to the Annual Report being published.
Supplemental List. The Committee shall maintain a Supplemental List of those species that are not on the State List but for which there is at least one record determined to be “unaccepted, natural occurrence questionable” and with respect to that record, for which a majority of members believe there is enough potential for natural occurrence for inclusion on the Supplemental List. If a record of a species not on the State List is not accepted on the grounds of questionable natural occurrence, but all members agree that the bird’s identity was established, then any member may move to add the species to the Supplemental List. The species will then be added to the Supplemental List with a majority vote, either at a meeting or through other voting means. A record already appearing on the Supplemental List may be reconsidered for removal at a meeting at the request of a Member, but it shall require a two-thirds vote of the Members at such a meeting to delete the record from the Supplemental List. If a species already appearing on the Supplemental List is added to the State List via the regular circulation/voting process, it shall be automatically removed from the Supplemental List.
The decisions of the Committee shall be published annually, under the authorship of the Secretary and/or Chairman (and other Voting Members if desired), in the form of an Annual Report, in the TOS Newsletter or TOS Bulletin. A section of this Annual Report shall be devoted to bringing the Texas State List up to date.
The published data for accepted records should include at least the name of the species, date(s) of observation, locality, and reporting observers. Other data may be added at the discretion of the Committee.
Rejected records should also be published, with a minimum of the above data, except that the observers' names should not be included. In publications, the term "unaccepted" should be used instead of "rejected."
"Pending records" should not be published.
ULTIMATE DISPOSITION OF RECORDS
The Secretary will retain each year's records until the Annual Report for that year is completed. All records will then be kept on file at The Biodiversity Research & Teaching Collections at Texas A&M University. All photographic material (slides, prints, negatives, video recordings, etc.) will be deposited into the Texas Photo Record File at Texas A&M and will be labeled with both a Texas Bird Records Committee file number (see VI. E. (1)(a), and a TPRF number. Any sound recording submitted with any record will be deposited at the Texas Bird Sounds Library at Sam Houston State University.
The original Bylaws were written and accepted by the Texas Bird Records Committee on 15 February 1988. Members at that time included:
Keith Arnold, Chairman
Greg Lasley, Secretary
Accepted by TOS Board of Directors: 6 May 1988
Current Version: The above Bylaws reviewed and accepted by TBRC: 11 September 2021
TBRC members as of 11 September 2021 (at Annual Meeting):
Keith Arnold, Academician
Tony Frank, Chairman
Eric Carpenter, Secretary