Date: 1/13/18 9:34 am
From: Jamie Chavez <almiyi...> [sbcobirding] <sbcobirding-noreply...>
Subject: [sbcobirding] eBird Rare Bird Alerts
This is something I've been thinking about for some time now, and Paul
Lehman's post yesterday to CALBIRDS with the subject line, "Are Regional
County Listserves Still Relevant?" (see;id=1384078 ) has prompted me to go
ahead and try an experiment. Paul's main point was that the rare bird
information going into and coming out of eBird and other social media is,
for whatever reason (and there are many), not being shared with local
listserves. I won't offer an opinion here but my experiment is to begin
forwarding to sbcobirding an abbreviated version of the daily Santa Barbara
County Rare Bird Alerts from eBird. Rare birds are posted almost every day
to eBird but never make it to sbcobirding. These forwarded alerts will be
short, once per day and will include a link to the alert webpage should you
want to dig deeper for the information. Many of us are eBird users and many
are not so these forwarded alerts will allow non-users access to the
information through the listserve. If you are already subscribed to the
alerts and this is redundant information just hit the delete key when they
come in. I may not always forward these each day depending on what is in
them or if I am not available to do it or lack motivation, etc. It is an
experiment and I hope it will generate discussion and follow up from time
to time through sbcobirding.

What you will see is a listing that looks like this:


[eBird Alert] Santa Barbara County Rare Bird Alert <daily> for [date]

*** Species Summary:

- Garganey (2 reports)
- Broad-billed Hummingbird (2 reports)
- Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (2 reports)
- Tropical Kingbird (3 reports)
- Gray Catbird (3 reports)

This report contains observations of rare birds in Santa Barbara County.
View this alert at
NOTE: all sightings are UNCONFIRMED unless indicated


Normally the summary includes a detailed listing including map and
checklist links, comments, etc. I don't want to forward all this info so to
read details about the birds listed just click on the link. What you need
to know about these alerts is that species listed in the above example may
not necessarily be from the previous day. Usually, they are. However, if a
traveling birder submits his/her checklist a few days after the fact it may
pop-up on the daily alert. This is where the link is helpful which takes
you to the Santa Barbara County Rare Bird Alert page at eBird where you can
see the details on all rarities from the past week. Species are listed
taxonomically, but if you click on Date it will position the most recent at
the top as they came in on that day. You can also click Show Details or
Show All Details to see any attached photos and read comments, etc. It is
important to note that below the species name on the webpage you will see
either Unconfirmed (red) or Confirmed (green) depending on whether or not
reviewers have validated the information. Many of these reports will be
known, continuing birds while others (new entries) are unconfirmed and
could possibly be erroneous so chase at your own risk. Rare birds are
reviewed and validated/invalidated as time permits and when people respond
to requests for more information but will always show up on the alerts
whether valid or not. This is where the association with a listserve should
be helpful. If someone were to chase a claimed rarity and actually confirm
its presence we all hope for a follow-up to sbcobirding where we can
discuss movement, access issues, keep tabs on it, etc. I think that
listserves, in general, serve a different purpose other than just reporting
rarities. They should be the means for deeper discussions about local
status and distribution issues regarding the birds of the area in addition
to rare bird reporting, but there is no escaping the fact that most of the
rare bird reports today come from eBird and not through local listserves.
There is an obvious disconnect and I think it's just a sign of the times
and the way birders get their information.

Jamie M. Chavez
Santa Maria, CA

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