This is the easiest situation and the sighting can usually be broadcast to the entire birding community. Still, it is a good idea to include any restrictions of the property such as hours, parking, fees, etc.
If it is a rare or endangered bird, then a note about not using tapes, iPods, or any other type of disturbance should be included.
It is usually a good idea to have a local coordinator. Facilitating access to a rarity on private property is an extremely delicate and stressful job. This topic will be raised annually in most states.
There have been references to guidelines mentioned on bird listserv's, and we should start by pointing out that neither MOS nor any club has formal authority in such matters. Not only is it inappropriate to try to assume authority in matters of private property access, each situation is so different as to render application of strict guidelines nearly impossible.
The best anyone can do is to make some general recommendations.
I'm sure we'll agree that the well-being of the bird, the homeowners, and the neighbors are our greatest priorities.
During the initial visit, good facilitators should do all of the following:
Note: I recommend trying to have one main facilitator to avoid confusion and undue stress to the homeowners. This is unofficial, of course, and the homeowners should do as they please. However, imagine what a mess it could be if you had competing forces disseminating information. One main POC is best for a variety of reasons.
Don't do either of those.
There's a galaxy of compromises between those two bad options. Someone should go out there and feel it out. Keep in mind that any tiny step in one direction increases risk on the other end. The more people you tell, the higher the chance of disturbance. The fewer people you tell the more animosity from the community.
Who gets told beyond that is up to you, and this is where you won't win. I am 100% confident that there is no system that will satisfy even a narrow majority of people. It will also please approximately 0% of the people who don't get to see the bird. You might personally establish criteria based on being a photographer, being a local, making regular field birding contributions, membership on the records committee, being your friend, being a serious lister, or others.
Now that you have your hopeless subjective criteria, try making a list of people. If you are told to start slow (let's say 15-20 people) and let the word spread, even the people who didn't hear about it directly from the initial message might resent you. I typically get "why was I left off?" e-mails even from the people who heard about it word of mouth within 24 hours. (I tell them that's just how it has to work.) The best you can do is explain the situation, be sincere, and have thick skin. You're doing the best you can. I will say that the local bird club can be an invaluable team mate, and you might even choose to try to pass the facilitation to them. There are no golden rules, however, and saying that locals should ALWAYS control the situation is probably not correct. Many rare birds have been suppressed locally over the years, probably to greater detriment to science (i.e., documentation) and maximum possible access. Does a casual local birder have more "right" to a bird than a passionate field birder who contributes 100s of eBird reports and extensive rarity documentation regularly? People will argue about these things forever, and this is the part that will not be solved to everyone's satisfaction.
Rare Bird policy procedures drafted by Joe
Hanfman with input and text from Bill Hubick.
Adopted by Howard County Bird Club Board at February 28, 2013 regular board meeting.