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The "Balkanization" of rarity reporting (1 Viewer)

Mysticete

Well-known member
United States
This is something I have increasingly mulled over in recent years, and I am curious on what other people's thoughts are.

When I started birding, a person could reliably keep track of all local birding news by following just one or two sources, depending on your interests. For instance, in San Diego, which is where I "matured" as a birder after initially getting interested in the hobby in Michigan, I could reliably hear about pretty much any local rarity, sometimes in real time, by following SDBirds, which covered the county. If I wanted state level, there was Calbirds also, and I believe I was also on InlandBirds which covered the outside of the area but relevant Salton Sea.

Nowadays, it feels like truly keeping up to date on bird news requires having to search through so much more material, the exact number varying based on region. Not only are the old message groups around, but you have multiple facebook groups (regional and statewide), twitter alerts, reporting services, ebird, and phone/text lines you have to monitor. Someone who finds a rare bird will probably at best report it to just one or two sites, or maybe just via ebird.

And these sites are just so much harder to sort through, as they attract a random sample of folks, so that you might have to scroll through post after post of feeder pictures to hear about someone's actual birding trip or mention of a rarities, or have to figure out if that bird that came over ebird is actually a valid or just misidentified. And then there are all sorts of esoteric rules that sometimes crop up, which can interfere with your own posting.

I know twitching can be frustrating, and that frustration is part of why I don't do it as often as I really should. After all, you might need to invest a lot of time and sometimes money into going after a bird you might miss anyway. But increasingly I find just the research part even frustrating. It just feels like there are too many potential sources to keep track of, and too much noise to filter through.
 

leonardo_simon

Well-known member
Interesting....... in UK we have two main public sources rare bird alert and bird guides which both have apps that appear to trawl all the different potential sites with bird news on them (i.e. the local county sites, twitter, each other). Perhaps something like that in USA?
 

Mono

Hi!
Staff member
Supporter
Europe
I have found that around me. There used to be a single forum on the local birding club where people would post what they had seen. Then a few people started their own site specific blogs, then a few people started just posting their sightings on Twitter. And now instead of one source there at least five that one has to look at to get a feel of what's around.
 

Farnboro John

Well-known member
Its the difference between push and pull communications. RBA push news to birders in return for subscription. If you don't want to pay subscription you are dependent on pull communications where at the least you have to go find your information streams - which, in the informal world of social media, may dry up at any time for any reason - and, indeed, may not alert you positively so that you have to keep checking them.

You get what you pay for, more or less.

John
 

Mysticete

Well-known member
United States
NARBA is a national service that at least was subscription only, which reported on ABA area rare birds. but that is at basically the level of all of Canada and the US. Given the size of the US, it's not very useful if you want to find local rare birds at the state level.
 

Farnboro John

Well-known member
NARBA is a national service that at least was subscription only, which reported on ABA area rare birds. but that is at basically the level of all of Canada and the US. Given the size of the US, it's not very useful if you want to find local rare birds at the state level.
Yes, I do get that. You have states the size of our country.

John
 

jurek

Well-known member
I found the same. There are local news groups on Whatsapp, Facebook etc, they are hard to find from an outsider and short-lived.

Unfortunately it is similar with personal contacts: you write a local birder on Whatsapp and it turns he doesn't check his Whatsapp but only Messenger or vice versa.

Some years ago I was very active on social media, and then realized that actually all useful contacts, friendships etc. came from outside social media. Then I left social media world for years. Recently I returned but increasingly find that not much has changed. Social media are like a soup from which all pieces of meat were completely removed.
 

Jeff Hopkins

Just another...observer
United States
Here in PA, there are various text alerts by region (6 or 7 different ones). Since I don't have a cell, they're useless to me.

But there is a PA Rare birds facebook page. Unfortunately, there are also a crap load of other local pages that basically amount to "look at my pretty picture of a cardinal."
 

kb57

Well-known member
Europe
I found the same. There are local news groups on Whatsapp, Facebook etc, they are hard to find from an outsider and short-lived.

Unfortunately it is similar with personal contacts: you write a local birder on Whatsapp and it turns he doesn't check his Whatsapp but only Messenger or vice versa.

Some years ago I was very active on social media, and then realized that actually all useful contacts, friendships etc. came from outside social media. Then I left social media world for years. Recently I returned but increasingly find that not much has changed. Social media are like a soup from which all pieces of meat were completely removed.
Jurek, there's something very Polish about that analogy...I get an image of Barszcz czerwony without the krokatiem...

Although we have services like Birdguides and RBA in UK, I know some people on here have stated they get most of their local info from closed WhatsApp and Facebook groups. No doubt most of this information filters through to the national subscription services, it's hard to tell as an outsider who isn't plugged into this informal network. So I think the Balkanisation referred to by the OP is also operating to an extent in the UK, perhaps not with respect to rarities which people travel to twitch, more at the local scarcity level.
 

jurek

Well-known member
I could talk about a cake from which all the raisins were picked off, too. ;)

Anyway, while there are few things of importance and lots of BS in real life, in social media the proportion is much more towards BS, and most of things of importance fly over it completely.

In my region probably all true rares made it to the national news, although there is a delay of half a day, and many follow up records are only on WhatsApp. I will leave WhatsApp in a month anyway, due to their privacy policy, I wonder how it will be then.
 

Mike C

Emeritus President at Burnage Rugby Club
It is said that RBA subscribe to Birdguides and vice versa (perfectly sensible)
I also understand that RBA subscribe to many local WhatsApp groups, as well as their relentless trawling through twatter and faecesbook bird news.
I belong to three WhatsApp groups (Cheshire, North West and North Wales) although it’s been (as we all know) fairly frustrating reading about birds I can’t travel to see !
 

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