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  1. Are Regional/County Listservs Still Relevant? [a bit long] LINK
    DATE: Jan 12, 2018 @ 2:18pm, 9 month(s) ago
    It is pretty obvious that over the past few
    years that many
    of the local/county/regional/state listservs have become less
    and less relevant
    to a large number of birders, as many of these people have voted
    with their
    feet….er, fingertips….and moved over to other sites such as
    eBird. Not only
    that, but bird information dissemination appears to have become
    MORE fragmented
    as time goes on, rather than less fragmented. We now have the
    local listservs,
    eBird, WhatsApp/GroupMe text messaging groups, Facebook
    individual and group
    sites, personal Flickr sites, personal and private-group text
    messaging, and
    even a handful of old-school folks who actually still call their
    friends on the
    phone! Some of these services are SUPPPOSED to complement each
    other, e.g., a
    text-message group that is supposed to be used for immediate
    dissemination of high-end
    rarity information only, and folks are supposed to post to it
    AND to the local
    listserv in a timely manner, but instead the former is used
    almost exclusively
    and often for more standard bird fare, so the general listserv
    gets only some
    scraps, if anything. Using my home-county listserv here in San
    Diego as an
    example, the number of local birders who now rarely if ever post
    SanDiegoRegionBirding has grown steadily. Most of these folks
    still happily get
    information from such sources, but rarely, if ever, post to it.
    But a good
    number of these people do submit eBird reports on a regular
    basis instead.   Why only
    to one Is it the ease of eBird
    submissions Is it the instantaneous reporting from the field
    (But that is
    also easy to do to a local listserv with any smartphone.) Is it
    that they can
    easily attach their photos to their eBird reports Is there a
    widespread belief
    that posting rarity news only to eBird is “enough”   Or for some, are they timid
    to post publicly,
    or just lazy, or simply don’t care to give back to a listserv
    from which they
    got information allowing them to see a rare bird Whatever the
    reason, recent
    checks on many days since mid-December of the number of posts to
    the San Diego listserv
    versus the number of county “rarity” alerts coming through eBird
    is something
    on the magnitude of 1 to 20 or 30 (albeit somewhat skewed by the
    numbers of
    out-of-town Nazca Booby viewers and local-birder 2018 “big year”
    kickoffs, and
    by the potential for multiple rarities mentioned per a single
    listserv post but
    only one species per eBird alert). A little of this dichotomy
    can be explained
    by the fact that some birds such as a semi-tame,
    multi-year-staying Greater
    White-fronted Goose at a local lake still appears daily on the
    eBird rare-bird
    alert—given that it is a flagged species—but that virtually
    nobody would dream
    of posting its continued existence on a regular basis on the
    county listserv.
    Or, over the past few weeks, the continued presence of Nazca
    Boobies, a
    wintering Red-throated Pipit, and many other regional and
    state-level rarities
    locally, has drawn an especially large number of California
    birders from out of
    town as well as many out-of-state birders—few of whom have
    posting privileges
    to the San Diego listserv, but almost all of them can post to
    eBird. In most areas, eBird has become the best way
    to keep track,
    on an almost daily basis, of the continued presence of existing
    rarities. (With
    the caveat that some such reports are erroneous, as they are
    through any
    source, and folks should be careful following up on some such
    especially when made many days after anyone else has reported
    seeing the bird.
    Even when some folks are chasing known birds at known locations,
    they can mess
    it up. Posted photos of misidentified stakeouts are not overly
    rare, and the
    number of such erroneous reports without photos are likely even
    greater. Just recently,
    for example, a friend of mine from out-of-state, after seeing
    Nazca Booby here,
    drove up to Santa Maria to see the tame Garganey. He was greeted
    there by a birding
    couple, also from out of state and chasing the same birds, who
    proudly pointed
    out the bird to him: a female Northern Pintail. He quickly
    showed them the real
    Garganey. But, the bottom line is, don’t underestimate the
    ability of some
    observers to misidentify even known stakeouts.  
    But I digress…) Are eBird reports also good at giving the
    needed background
    information on how to FIND these stakeout rarities Sometimes
    yes, sometimes
    no. A dropped pin at a hotspot may or may not signify a specific
    spot or may
    just denote the location of a large park or marsh where the bird
    is. Some
    observers add in exact lat/long information, but many do not.
    Also, because
    many human beings (including many birders) are geographically
    challenged, many
    locations they give in their eBird submissions are MIS-STATED or
    which is one potentially serious problem with using eBird data
    in a number of
    ways in general. But even if the general location is indeed
    correct, the included
    comments (if any) may say little about the specific tree(s) a
    bird is
    frequenting, or the best time of day it might be seen there,
    questionable issues, or information about possible legal access
    issues, etc. These
    specifics, which can be very important, are often best imparted
    through posts
    to the local listservs. Just in the past couple weeks, such was
    the case here
    in San Diego County with a couple good posts to the listserv
    dealing with
    private property issues and homeowner and birder behavior
    involving the Ramona
    Harris’s Hawk. Does one need to post an update on every
    continuing rarity
    every single day on a local listserv No, although regular
    updates on high-end
    and just-recently-found rarities are very helpful, and then
    periodic (weekly) updates
    that such-and-such long-staying or returning rarity is still
    present is also
    helpful to other birders. But few local birders supply that
    Recently here in San Diego, there have been MULTIPLE DAILY eBird
    updates on
    Nazca Booby, Red-throated Pipit, Greater Pewee, Thick-billed
    Kingbird and
    Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Harris’s Hawk, Tricolored Herons,
    Nestor Park birds,
    etc. etc. etc., and almost nothing on these birds for well over
    a week or more on
    SanDiegoRegionBirding. Nothing. The question then becomes: “Does
    it matter” Looking at the broad birding community, some
    birders spend
    almost their entire birding lives chasing stakeouts found by
    other people. If
    that’s what they like doing, then great. Some (but far fewer)
    birders hate
    chasing “other people’s birds,” very rarely do it, but spend
    almost all their
    time doing “their own” birding. That’s great, too!   And most of us birders are
    at some point in
    the continuum between these two extremes. But the bottom line
    is, a relatively
    small number of birders find a relatively large percentage of
    the rare birds.
    And many birders do spend much of their birding time chasing
    previously found
    birds. So, what can this large group of chasers contribute
    rarity-status update information (BOTH positive and negative) if
    they see that such
    updates have not been made in “a reasonable time period,” or
    perhaps any news
    on changes in a bird’s preferred exact site or timing of
    appearance during the
    day .
    M aybe include a bit more information
    than the
    standard "continuing bird" Include maybe where and when the
    continuing bird was seen if possibly different from “usual.”
    And if the report
    substantially extends the date-span, then ideally including
    some comment about
    how it was identified, or a photo.  Some eBird reviewers
    avoid confirming
    late reports of continuing rarities without at least some
    documentation, given
    that some birds are reported long after they actually
    departed. If folks use only eBird for their rare-bird
    chasing bird
    info, and then submit only to eBird, then fine. If they do
    likewise only via
    some texting or Facebook group, fine! But if they routinely use
    a local
    listserv to get their “chase” information, see the bird, and
    then rarely or
    never return the favor to birders following behind them—be it
    for reasons of
    laziness, cluelessness, or simply self-centeredness—then this
    does seem just a
    wee bit galling to those birders who are finding and sharing. Perhaps most birders are perfectly happy with
    the quality
    and speed (i.e., efficiency) of the rare-bird information they
    receive and
    think that my concerns are unfounded and mostly merely tilting
    at windmills.
    Others may sympathize fully. In any case, at least I got to
    vent! --Paul Lehman,  
  2. -back to message board-

-revision history-
v1.30 - 01/05/16 - Revamped cloud logic, optimized database queries, linked to eBird rarities.
v1.23 - 12/08/11 - Added direct link to CBRC records.
v1.22 - 12/03/11 - Corrected GMT offsets on dates. Added last 5 posts at top.
v1.21 - 11/24/11 - Added direct link to range map for NA birds.
v1.2  - 11/23/11 - Greatly improved graphing technology - separates month vs. year by posts. Added species auto-complete functionality.
v1.14 - 11/22/11 - Added cloud bubble for common thread topics.
v1.13 - 11/22/11 - Added integrated photos where available.
v1.12 - 11/22/11 - Added multiple input boxes for additional refinement, negative search criteria (eg. -keyword).
v1.11 - 11/22/11 - Added banding code, species look-up. Also direct link to recent eBird observations.
 v1.1 - 11/22/11 - Added 'date' functionality. Shows top 'month/year' combinations for a query. Restrict results to that 'month/year'.
 v1.0 - 11/21/11 - Initial version coded. Currently archiving 'lacobirds' and 'calbirds'.