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Records Appraisal Committee

© Scott Brooks (Pink-footed shearwater)

The Records Appraisal Committee (RAC) was established by Birds New Zealand (Birds NZ) to assess and verify unusual bird sightings reported from New Zealand. The RAC maintains a database of accepted records of unusual birds, or birds occurring far beyond their normal range. Summary reports of decisions are published every 2 years in Notornis, and are listed (and linked) below.

The RAC is the sole arbiter of what vagrant species will be added to (or removed from) the New Zealand List, and advises the Birds NZ Checklist Committee, whose role it is to produce a list of birds of New Zealand that incorporates current taxonomic consensus. The RAC can also assist anyone who simply can’t identify a bird they have seen.

What does the RAC do once it receives a UBR?

Click here to see a summary of RAC processes and timelines

Unusual Bird Report online database

The RAC maintains a searchable database of summary data associated with submitted UBRs. The main purpose of the database is to provide information on whether a UBR has been submitted (or not) for any unusual bird that visitors to this webpage might have seen, with the hope that this will encourage more UBR submissions. The status of each UBR can also be followed as it moves through the RAC process. The database provides hyperlinks to information on each species (New Zealand Birds Online species pages) and to more than 120 Birds NZ publications providing detail on individual birds or UBR decisions. The database can also be used to generate lists of sightings by species, locality, status (Submitted, Pending, Accepted, Not accepted, Suspense), year of sighting, year of submission, Details (Live, Breeding, Dead, Died, Aberrant), or whether they were the first record for New Zealand.

Recently-loaded information in the database must be treated with both caution and respect. Not all UBRs will be of the species claimed, and it is not appropriate for the veracity of submitted records to be debated publicly before the RAC has considered the UBR and notified the submitter of their decision. The information contained within a UBR is confidential to the submitter, the RAC, and the relevant Regional Representative of Birds NZ. The only person authorised to provide information on the precise location of a reported bird (if appropriate) is the local Regional Representative.

Click here to access the Unusual Bird Report – Online database

Recent publications of RAC decisions in Notornis

Vagrant and extra-limital bird records 2019-2020
Vagrant and extra-limital bird records 2017-2018
Vagrant and extra-limital bird records 2015-2016
Vagrant and extra-limital bird records 2013-2014
Vagrant and extra-limital bird records 2011-2012
Vagrant and extra-limital bird records 2008-2010

Recent RAC Annual reports

2023 RAC Annual Report
2022 RAC Annual Report
2021 RAC Annual Report
2020 RAC Annual Report
2019 RAC Annual Report
2018 RAC Annual Report
2017 RAC Annual Report
2016 RAC Annual Report
2015 RAC Annual Report
2014 RAC Annual Report
2013 RAC Annual Report

RAC Resources

Unusual/Rare Bird Report – Online reporting form

Unusual/Rare Bird Report – Downloadable Word file

List of reportable species

Unusual Bird Report – Online database