ID changes on bird audio with multiple species

I post a lot of nocturnal bird flight call recordings on iNat, and about 90% of them have Chuck-will’s-widows singing in addition to whatever call I’m focusing on. (There’s a healthy population of Chucks around my NFC station, and they often sing all night long.)

I’m starting to have a problem with people changing my NFC IDs to Chuck-will’s-widow. This could potentially make the majority of my reports meaningless since, as I mentioned, the Chucks are in almost all my recordings. In people’s experience, what’s the best/most effective way to address this problem?


Do you include any notes in the observation? Most people aren’t even familiar with the concept of nocturnal flight calls, so might not even realize that there are other bird sounds on the recording.


I agree that this is probably a good situation for a note or preemptive comment. I would make some text you can copy/paste with these observations basically saying what you did above. “There are chucks in this sound, but I’m interested in IDing it for species XXXX’s nocturnal flight calls and the first call starts around YYYY”.


You could duplicate the observation and add a comment pointing out there are two species with a link to redirect those who want to add an ID for the chuck to an observation dedicated for it.


Notes are your friend in this. Whenever in some observation it’s not overwhelmingly clear what the subject of ID is, I write in the notes what my feature of interest is. Doubly so when the observation is dominated by the species that’s not the species of interest or it’s not in the most noticeable position.

This goes both for image-based and sound-based IDs. For images, what’s noticeable is what takes up most of the area, or what is central. For sound, it’s what takes up most of time time, and what is heard at the very beginning of the recording.

Sometimes people will ignore your note, but in my experience almost always people will adhere to what you say there (e.g. “this ID is for the red bug in the corner, not the yellow one in the middle”).

What I also will sometimes do, both to help with IDs and to make it easier for people to actually check existing observations of a species, is to include a truncated version of the media (tight crop of the subject of interest, or in your case a tight crop around a single NFC in the sound file) and put it as the first photo / recording. That way whoever is checking it out will be clear on what you meant there, and can still use the second, full-size / full-length medium to get richer info about the context, spacing of calls, etc.


I’ve checked the observations in question, in this situation when there were your IDs, you’ve explained the situation and when user just ignores you after this, I would accept his IDs in these observations and would duplicate the observations with IDs you need. It’s not wrong if there will be observations of both species with the same record if it’s really evident for both. And I would consider blacklisting other user if it will happen again and he still ignores your comments. And probably you should really make note every time that it’s not about Antrostomus carolinensis, but about another bird on the record.


The issue of iNat identifiers not respecting the focal organism when multiple organisms are present in an observation is impossible to completely solve, because some people will give an alternate ID for their own reasons no matter what. And commenting after the fact might not be effective because high volume IDers might not see or notice all the comments on their IDs. I second the idea of just deleting or ignoring the instances where it happens and duplicating or re-uploading that observation when necessary. If this becomes a habitual problem with one iNatter than maybe an admin will need to get involved?

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