Date: 3/18/21 8:19 am From: Steve Hampton <stevechampton...> Subject: Re: [Tweeters] eBird vs tweeters
Based on my experience elsewhere, there seem to be (at least) three different avenues for bird reporting presently (although this is constantly evolving with technology).
1) Tweeters type listservs-- these are great for discussion and sharing other bird-related information, but also important (and historically critical) for posting rarities. As Dennis has stated, we should keep doing this and not abandon it.
2) eBird-- you can set up "Alerts" by state or county level, for either flagged birds (rarities) or birds you haven't seen in that region this year, and at an hourly or daily notification rate. Note that these flagged birds have NOT yet been reviewed, so they will include some incorrect identifications.
3) WhatsApp-- in many areas, usually at the county or two-county level, birders have created WhatsApp groups for instant texting notifications, such as "I've just found a Brown Booby at this pier. It's at [lat, long]. Now it's flying north toward the ferry." I believe these groups need an administrator to manually add people to them.
We've come a long way since phone trees and voice mailboxes.
While most rarities first appear on eBird or Tweeters, they can also show up on iNaturalist, What's This Bird, or other places if the finder is not a user of eBird or Tweeters. Thanks to all the savvy people that keep an eye on those and report them! At my old home in Davis, CA, a teenager alerted us to a "hummingbird, sp" on eBird that was clearly a Broad-billed Hummingbird (photo). In the ensuing weeks, over 500 birders enjoyed that beauty. Earlier we missed a Summer Tanager that was reported on eBird as "bird, sp." because the user could not locate the "rarities" tab, so there is some group education needed to make all these things work.
One nut still to crack is how to make it easier for out-of-town birders to quickly report rarities. This remains a challenge. For example, a couple years ago in California a visiting birder from Utah found a Citrine Wagtail. Probably because he was traveling, he posted it on eBird nearly 24 hours later (with photos!). And probably because he was unfamiliar with the area, the location description was "auto tour loop" at the wildlife area, which is 6.4km long. It took us a day or two to track him down and talk to him on the phone (and, yes, a few of us did re-find the bird, albeit too few and too briefly). This story is not unusual-- I'm sure there are some tech solutions to connect visitors to local reporting mechanisms.