Date: 7/11/18 7:51 am
From: m b via VA-bird <va-bird...>
Subject: [VA-bird] interesting bird sightings and grammar
I suppose it could be said that the meaning of: “Va-bird is a forum for reporting interesting bird sightings in Virginia” is the same as:

“VA-bird is a forum in Virginia for reporting interesting bird sightings.”

Grammar – does the placement of the clause change the meaning? And is "bird sightings" limited to its most narrow meaning, or does bird behavior and habitat, (loss, gain, or location) thus informing one where one most likely might sight a bird, and why, fall under the rubric of bird sighting? I would suggest it is the broader meaning. The list is run by the Virginia Society of Ornithology, not the local tourist board. It does not direct one to local restaurants. It helps people see birds, and will do less well at that task in the absence of context.

If the grammar does change the meaning, and the VSO has an unbelievably narrow mandate for this list, how picky must we readers be, when we have the wonderful "delete" button, and can simply delete those emails in which we are uninterested? I think that is what the delete button is for. Not reading things one has no interest in reading. And subject headings on this list are usually quite clear enough for one to decide if one is interested, without ever clicking on "open".

If one feels inundated by email, on birds or any topic, the digest is a great way to find out what is happening on VA-Bird without receiving multiple emails per day on bird-related topics. Then one can just scroll through the digest, and click on only those things one finds interesting. Also, just bookmarking the page and scrolling through every day or two is a great way to keep up with what is happening without receiving too many emails, whatever that number is for a given person. I think yesterday, there were three total posts. Not a burden, even if one does not get the digest format.

I have been very grateful to be able to post from Puerto Rico when I was having unexpected last minute difficulty getting a bird guide, and received many kind and immediate responses from VA-bird list members as to whom to contact, as many people had birded there and knew members of the Puerto Rico Society of Ornithology. Were it not for the kind and generous people of Va-Bird, I might not have found an available guide while on my trip, though I had done much research toward that end before I left. Thank you again to all those who assisted me in my time of birding need.

I am definitely very grateful when someone posts an article about bird behavior. Normally, as in this recent case about barn owls, the birds posted about are birds found in Virginia. Many migrating birds find their way through Virginia, so unless the post is about a ground hornbill, the likelihood that the article is pertinent to Virginia, or birds ever found in Virginia, is quite high.

I am also grateful when someone posts about a trip. I can ignore those, or use them. As with the most recent trip post, I learned not only what I had suspected in recently considering a trip to the Canadian Maritimes, (I’ve been to New Brunswick, but was considering Cape Breton) which is that I will likely not see many life birds. I also learned where best to go to see the ones I have not seen. Almost every bird mentioned in that post is seen in Virginia, either because it breeds here like yellow warblers, or because it migrates through. And I benefited from months of research done by a fellow member of VA-Bird. Thank you for that!

The trip posts are rare enough that they do not interfere with the list in my view. And they can be so helpful if a Virginia birder is planning or considering going to that spot to bird, that I would miss them terribly. And I don't read every one. In fact, I read very few, but the ones I read have helped immeasurably. Again, the digest and that good ole' delete button solve the issue for me.

Finally, the term "extralimital" before the post is often used on bird lists such as these to indicate a post slightly off topic, but of interest to many readers. This alerts one, if one can't already tell by the posted topic heading, that this might or might not be of interest. Just like it might or might not be of interest to me if an interesting bird was sighted at the VA-/North Carolina border, 8 hours from my home. That post would unquestionably be under the very narrow rubric of birds sighted in Virginia, but it is not of interest to me.

This list has been operating just fine, for a very long time, with people using the delete button and digest combination to avoid reading things in which they are not interested. I see the meaning of the stated purpose of the list as the broader view I suggest above. The Society and most of its members are interested in bird habitat, behavior, and not just getting directions to a possible bird they might be able to see if they chase it down. This is not the "big year" direction list. It is a Virginia forum in which people exchange information about birds. If one wants the last known sighting of a given bird, I think e-bird is a good place for that.

The list as it is currently used has been a blessing and a benefit to many of us who have gained much by the few "extralimital" posts. I highly recommend the delete button and the digest format to deal with one's own preferences.

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