[CT Birds] Mega rarity!

Mark Szantyr birdinggeek at gmail.com
Wed Aug 17 14:35:13 EDT 2016

I have been meaning to post something about this for a while. There was an interesting conversation on Massbird about the value/differences in using the state list serv vs Ebird to report rare bird sightings.  I guess that i have a different take on this. Whether you post it to Ebird or the state list serv, posting it solely to these sources, and even worse, doing it hours  after the sighting is unacceptable to communicate information about a rarity. Hearing about a bird in the evening or following morning after the sighting is not good and not the way it should be done. It certainly is not the way we dinosaurs did it. 

There is a fancy device that allows for instant communication of rarities.  Immediate and real-time. It is called a phone. In the old days, if someone found a real rarity( not just something that is your FOY, i hate that term, or something neat but not as Julian would say, a MEGA), that person would call as many people as necessary until the message was out. These people would call other people. They would call others. These phone trees bridged geographic and social cliques.   The bottom line is you heard about a rare  bird while it was actually still there. Messages were left, and i guess that text messages could work this way too as long as all appropriate info was included and as long as a phone call was attempted. People heard about the bird while people were still looking at it. Amazing. 

Even if you were not positive. If it was a bird of mega status, you would call, CALL, other birders and get the word out. 

I know. It involves interpersonal communication. It might even involve a few extra cents on your phone bill. It likely won't give you the fame and glory of seeing your name in e-print until after the fact. 

There are a few of us who still do this. And it still works. I saw three new gulls in CT last winter because of personal, real-time communication by phone. 

It does mean sharing a phone number. I does mean getting calls at strange hours of the day.  It means spending 15 minutes making calls to spread the word.  But it gives you the best opportunity to see a rarity before it leaves. 

As to the E-bird vs state list serv controversy, i believe e-bird provides an archived data base that has far reaching uses. The state list serv is a state based tally of sightings that serve few purposes outside of state accountings and near reading for bird junkies. Both communicate sightings but both are way way too slow and cumbersome  for rarity notification and reporting.  Also, both are only as accurate as the info being put in. E-bird is vetted but after the fact. State list servs are rarely actively vetted. 

I know. I am a cranky dinosaur. I do not live with my pulse linked to a text message account. If my phone rings, i usually do answer it. If its from a birder, i always  answer it. 

Anyway. Just some history. 

Mark Szantyr

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