Some years ago I became frustrated with the lack on information about hybrid birds. Worse than that there seemed to be very little interest in hybrid birds and many birders I talked to seemed to treat such things with contempt. I received a few sneers when I started the Hybrid Birds group on Flickr but before long this group became active with more and more people contributing, either providing photos or sharing ideas about identification and other subjects. It became a really useful resource and those of us who were involved found our knowledge and understanding growing.
We still have much to learn. Changes at Flickr have made the Hybrid Birds group harder to maintain, many contributors have left Flickr and photos in the group have disappeared when their accounts have been deleted. It was only ever a resource available for Flickr members, and although a few hardcore hybrid enthusiasts joined Flickr just to join the group, I'm sure there are many non-Flickr members with much to contribute.
This project seeks to take some of what has been good in the Flickr group and broaden it out to involve more people with more flexibility. It sets out to be a collaborative pooling of resources and learning. As well as covering individual types of hybrid I hope that we will also cover general topics relating to bird hybrids.
The best learning comes from sharing ideas, testing them collectively, and building on them. Some people prefer not to say anything until they are absolutely certain, for fear of being proved wrong. In some situations that might just work but it cannot work with hybrid birds - most of us as individuals just don't see hybrids often enough to build and test hypotheses. But collaborate with others, share ideas and let everyone test, challenge or build on them and we have an opportunity to learn much more effectively.
Because we are still learning we will undoubtedly make some mistakes along the way. This project will be a journey and at times I am sure we will propose identifications and other theories that subsequently we will need to modify. This is a necessary part of learning but I raise it here as a warning to anyone coming here looking for hard facts and rock-solid identifications. We try and indicate levels of uncertainty with words like "possible", "probable", "presumed" etc. but at the end of the day very little can be regarded as genuinely proven fact (if it really is proven then it should say so). But if you find something here that doesn't ring true why not add a comment explaining why? And if you know something that we've missed, please share it with us!
More on how to contribute...