Date: 4/1/21 12:35 am
From: Jim Dehnert <dehnert...>
Subject: [southbaybirds] [Advocacy] SCVAS Avocet Update, Introduction, and Group Policy
It's been quite a while since our last Advocacy post here, and I haven't
introduced myself (the new list administrator). I have some news from our
sponsors (the Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society), I'll introduce myself,
and I'll finish up with a description of how I view the group's posting
policies, since there have been several related issues raised recently.
[As is our practice for Advocacy posts, this material is off-topic for the
list. If you want to discuss anything further, please direct comments to
me, to the administrators' email *southbaybirds+<owner...>
<southbaybirds%<2Bowner...>*, or to other responsible parties, not to
the list.]

****** Avocet Update ******

SCVAS sent a notice to members a couple of days ago about the most recent
issue of our Avocet Update newsletter
<http://hosted.verticalresponse.com/756507/5964563f93/283194937/76ba4922a6/>.
It has a number of items of interest to this group, including the spring
Birdathon, an upcoming talk, spring Self-Guided Birding Field Trips, and
new recommendations concerning bird feeders and salmonellosis
<https://scvas.org/backyard-bird-blog/salmonellosis>. The last subject
came up recently on this list, and is worth reading if you have a local
bird feeder. [Spoiler: you should probably take down any seed or suet
feeders until Pine Siskins have left the area in a month or two, for the
safety of the birds.]

****** Introduction ******

Chuq mentioned a while back that I (Jim Dehnert) have taken over his role
as the primary administrator for this email group (southbaybirds
<https://groups.io/g/southbaybirds/topics>). I'd like to start by thanking
him for all the work he has done developing and managing this list over the
years (since long before I was a subscriber), as well as the associated
website <https://siliconvalleybirding.org/> (which you'll find linked at
the bottom of every group post). He's promised that he'll fade away
slowly, so I hope to have his assistance for quite a while.

As for me... I've been birding in this area for about 3 decades, mostly by
myself with just the assistance of field guides until the past 5 years or
so -- which was about the time I discovered this list, and when I retired.
Since then I've learned a lot, from Matthew Dodder's advanced birding
class, from other local birders, and perhaps surprisingly from pushing
myself to conscientiously use eBird reporting tools. I'm still not an
expert birder, but I'm less of a beginner. :-)

As list administrator, I have no plans to make significant changes in how
this group is managed. In particular, I want it to be a welcoming place
for Santa Clara County birders at all levels of experience to get
information about bird sightings in the county. I'll describe what I think
that means in the rest of this message.

****** Group Posting Policy ******

*Summary*

Let's start with the summary view. The fundamental purpose of the group is
to help birders find interesting birds they'd like to see, and/or places
where they'd like to bird. Posts to the group should be:

- About sightings of interesting birds, and/or the places where we've
found them,
- in Santa Clara County,
- relatively recently; and
- consistent with ethical birding practices.

What follows is elaboration of these points.

[tl;dr]

*Purpose*

A word about the purpose: This isn't a chat group about general birding
topics. Like most email groups, most of our members (about 1200 strong)
get the posts as email messages, because they want to be alerted about
sightings that might be of immediate interest. That rapidly becomes
unmanageable if the topic is not reasonably constrained.

We do, though, want to be welcoming to birders at all levels. The
beginners of today will be the core contributors in the future. So the way
I like to think about this is this: ask yourself whether your report will
be interesting to other birders at your level of experience, to go see the
bird for themselves. If so, great; if not, this isn't the right forum.
Our Silicon Valley Birding facebook group
<https://www.facebook.com/groups/110996713065201/> is intended for more
general birding discussions.

We also have a separate list -- *<southbaybirds-events...>
<southbaybirds-events...>* -- for announcements of events like
talks, classes, and our field trips. Please subscribe if you're interested
in that material, and contact us if you have something of that sort to be
posted.

*Posting -- What and Where*

Clearly, you should include what you saw, where you saw it, and when.
Please use a subject that provides the bird[s] of interest and the location
(in general terms, e.g., a park). The message itself can provide more
detail about either, the date, and other context and commentary. Note that
an eBird checklist link is an ideal way to encapsulate much of this.

Especially for rarer birds, more precise location information may be
desirable. But consider the ethical birding item below...

Sometimes you'll see posts that are essentially trip reports. Even without
particularly noteworthy birds, these can help birders decide whether a site
is worth a visit at this time.

*Santa Clara County*

Please restrict reports to the county. There are other lists for
neighboring counties' sightings, for instance *<peninsula-birding...>
<peninsula-birding...>* (San Mateo County Audubon) and
*<ebb-sightings...>
<ebb-sightings...>* (Alameda/Contra Costa counties). I recommend
subscribing if you're interested in those areas as well.

*Timeliness*

The most valuable sightings reports of course are those that come before
the bird leaves the area. After several days, you're drifting away from
the list's purpose...

*Ethical Birding*

Please check out the links on our associated website
<https://siliconvalleybirding.org/> for more detail, but I'll note several
items here:

- The welfare of the bird is primary. We don't allow posting locations
of raptor nests, and discourage other nest location information that may
endanger successful nesting. If in doubt, leave out details. (Mentioning
a nest in a large area like a park is fine.) Similarly, think hard about
providing precise locations for threatened species or birds likely to
attract enough attention to disrupt their foraging.
- If you report birds seen on private or inaccessible property, make
that clear. We don't encourage trespassing.
- Please treat your fellow birders with respect and politeness, on the
list and in the field. If you see others behaving unethically, you'll need
to decide whether talking to them is safe and likely to be helpful, but do
it politely if you do.

*Miscellaneous*

*Photos*: Posting our photography is not the purpose of the list. If
you're posting to share your photo, the facebook group is the right place.
Photos can be large, which can be an issue for members with limited email
storage capacity. On the other hand, photos are sometimes useful (a) to
let others see what they're looking for (especially rare birds or unusual
variants), or (b) if there's a question about the bird's ID, so others can
help. Please be sparing in your photo posts (no more than a couple). If
the bird's location is sensitive, strip GPS/exif data. Ideally, put the
photo in an eBird checklist (where it can be useful to a much larger
community) or another photo website, and just include a link in your post.

*Responses*: Follow-ups to posts can be helpful, e.g., to track the
continued presence of a bird, or to provide context. But please send
private comments directly to the poster, and let off-topic threads quietly
die.

*Problems*: The list moderators are all volunteers, and we don't notice
everything that goes by. If you see a significant problem, please send us
a note at *southbaybirds+<owner...> <southbaybirds%<2Bowner...>*
. (We don't worry much about insignificant problems.) We do sometimes
lock threads drifting off-topic, or remove problematic threads entirely;
don't attempt to re-open those subjects.

***
If you got this far, I hope it's been useful. Please send any comments to
me at the address below.

Happy birding!
Jim Dehnert, list administrator

--
Jim Dehnert
<dehnert...>


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