It would be a serious mistake underestimate the capabilities of birders and at the same time overestimate the capabilities of scientists. An idiot could identify an Ivory-billed Woodpecker, and I for one would pay very close attention to any birder who claimed to see one. Ted Parker was once quoted as saying, "The only problem with ornithologists is that don't know anything about birds". There is a great deal of truth in that. I know some Ph.Ds that I would not trust to identify a Cardinal while a great many "amateurs" I know are truly remarkable in their field abilities. That is why the AOU Checklist committee now has an amateur in its ranks in a club that, historically, was reserved exclusively for professionals. I say this not because I am an amateur, but because I am a scientist. The most important contributions in field identification (and distribution) are now being made by "amateurs", not professionals and have been for many years.
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