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Rare Bird Alerts by Email

November 9, 2009

The internet is filled with information and services attractive to birders. This is the first of an irregular series alerting our members to some of them.

A list serve is a website to which people post messages, and then distributes the messages to people who have signed up to receive them. Our blog is a list serve if you’ve signed up to automatically receive the postings by email. Rare bird alerts also usually operate as a list serve. There are rare bird alerts available for virtually everywhere in the world. Places like China, Russia, Southeast Asia, Africa or South America may have only one alert for the entire region, but here in California, we have dozens. Many of the Southern California counties have their own alert, and it is very easy to sign up for these alerts. Many list serves make new sign-ups wait a week or two before allowing you to post something. This allows you to see their rules of etiquette in action and keeps out web pests who only want to post annoying messages instantly.

For example, if you were signed up for either the Orange County or LA County list serves, you would have known about the Bar-tailed Godwit (pictured below) which showed up (still there as of this writing) at Upper Newport Bay, just below the Jamboree Rd. bridge. This bird nests in western Alaska and normally heads southwest into Asia for the winter. Every once in a while it goes southeast instead, and shows up here. Of course, seeing the bird isn’t the same as getting a decent picture of the bird.

IMG_4780 closeup4

Bar-tailed Godwit (Limosa lapponica lookifuzzi)

If you’d like to seem some better pictures of this bird taken by Chris Taylor, click this link:

I receive BirdChat, BirdWest and CalBird in what is called “Digest” mode. All messages for the day are bundled so you get only one email per day. But you can get them individually if you prefer. I let the messages for the local county lists come in one-by-one, as there aren’t many messages. I subscribe to the Los Angeles and Orange Counties list serves. There are also list serves for: Ventura, Santa Barbara, Kern, San Diego, SE California, No. California and so on. You can sign up for any and all. As with any email, if the subject line doesn’t sound interesting, delete it.

The subscribing system on all these list serve sites is automated. You can’t go wrong. If you make an error, it will tell you what to do to fix it.

Bird Chat
Nationwide conversations about birdy stuff of all sorts.
List-Subscribe: <mailto:BIRDCHAT-subscribe-request@LISTSERV.ARIZONA.EDU>
Type “subscribe” WITHOUT the quotes in both the Subject Line the message area.

Collection of rare bird reports for the Western US.
Rare bird reports come out weekly from dozens of counties, Audubon chapters, etc. BirdWest collects all these reports for the Western US and sends them to you.

Leave the subject line blank. Type “subscribe” WITHOUT the quotes in the message area.

LA County Birds
Rare bird sightings primarily for LA County, but also some nearby areas.
Type “subscribe” WITHOUT the quotes in both the Subject Line the message area.

Orange County Birds
Rare bird sightings primarily for Orange County, but also some nearby areas.
Type “subscribe” WITHOUT the quotes in both the Subject Line the message area.

California Birds
Statewide bird news and sightings.
Type “subscribe” WITHOUT the quotes in both the Subject Line the message area.

If you are traveling to another county, state, or overseas, it’s worthwhile finding out if they have a local bird alert and signing up for it before you travel. Note, however, that since they mostly report rare birds, they may be more interested in birds common to Southern California than they are in their own common birds. You can always post a RFI (Request For Information) on how to find their local birds. Birders are usually quite helpful. Be sure to follow the listserve etiquette which you will receive in your Welcome! message, and thank anyone who helps you out.

Feel free to send in questions, comments and suggestions for other web birding items.

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