Posting observations with uncertain ID

Recently I was in the Southwestern US for a few months and was able to observe scores of hummingbirds visiting feeders every day. Probably 95% of these individuals were juveniles or females - certainly not adult males, which as a Northeasterner, made for some very chancy identifications. As it turned out , the great majority of my IDs were erroneous as I discovered when several identifiers with way more expertise on the hummingbirds of the Southwest, stepped in to correct my initial identifications. I’m wondering if perhaps I should in future, when confronted with an uncertain ID, just put it down to genus or evan family level and let it go at that.

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That’s certainly an option and with birds, especially, you’ll still get people identifying them. I resort to jumping to a broader taxon quite often when I’m dealing with something I am not very familiar with.

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That’s probably the best way of handling it. I often do that with moths I find difficult to take to species (like Lithophane spp.). Use the highest taxonomic classification you are comfortable with.
Another way would be to add your ID and leave a note saying you may be unsure of the correct ID. I consider it part of the ‘job’ of confirmation ID person to catch mistakes, rather than just agreeing and moving on.

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It’s also good to note that for birds it’s not really a big deal - those get so many people looking at them that most errors are quite reliably corrected. In other groups, the risk that a mistaken ID stays on is greater.

I personally put most birds to species except when unsure, then I usually put a genus - because for birds, it’s quite unlikely for me to now know the genus. For other wildlife and especially invertebrates I have much less confidence - I put a species only when I am quite sure - maybe for some butterflies and dragonflies for example. Otherwise, I pick what the AI says when it’s “pretty sure” and its genus or broader, or I just put a broader category myself.

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You can add any taxon you like, even life, system kinda pushes users as if you need to add a species (at least many people feel it that way), but in fact there’s no pressure, just add any id you’re sure in.

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Thanks to all for your input.

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Just another note. Don’t rely too much on the automatic name suggestion. It works great sometimes, and can often give a clue to an id, but often it doesn’t deal well with variation. I see it a lot with moths - folks clearly pick the first suggestion, and while it may be similar or correct, it may not be. This year I’m finding a lot of Noctua pronuba mis-identified to Peridroma saucia for that reason.

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Yes - I have discovered that. I’ve had some butterfly photos that have been ID’s/verified by experts and when I go to post them on iNaturalist, it will sometimes suggest something different altogether. Same with juvenile hummingbirds - had them verified by the person who literally wrote the book on NA hummingbirds & often the "suggestion was way off.

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