Ten Ways To Be A Better (Online) Birder
1. Report the rare birds you see, including known “continuing” rarities. This is a no-brainer.
2. Sometimes, report the rare birds you DON’T see. This could be very helpful to those debating a chase trip.
3.Quit being so anal retentive. Birders have the capacity to be bafflingly anal (its all part of the nerd persona I guess), but this is evident online more than anyplace else. It is both funny, frustrating and sad. Stop it.
If 10 birders all tell you this is a Sora, and you think it’s a Virginia Rail, I suggest you take the possibility that this is a Sora into consideration.
4. Listen to the people. The interwebs, aside from being a haven for cat videos, is a great place to learn. For example, and I expect a few of you know what I am referring to….if you photograph a “goshawk” in the middle of Tucson, and the area’s leading birders and everyone else tells you it’s a Cooper’s Hawk…you should listen to them. No need to get defensive.
5. Don’t even bring up using tapes on endangered species. It’s illegal, it disturbs birds, and if you do admit to doing this, you are only going to encourage others to make the same mistake. The internet has the ability to spread bad ideas around just as effectively as good ones.
6. Make your photos available. How many rarities do we see on Ebird with notes like “photos obtained”, and nothing more? Well, where are they?
7. Don’t be an ubermoderator. If a couple off-topic posts happen on a listserv or in a facebook group, I can personally assure you, as the world’s leading birder, that this is not the end of the world. This is related to #3.
8. Don’t be a dick. Don’t instigate personal attacks on people; keep in mind this is about birdwatching, of all ridiculous things. No need to get the blood boiling. If you do embark on this dark and well-worn path, you deserve all the flack you can (and will) get.
“Hi. I was walking down the path of Park X this morning. It was beautiful. There were lots of Morning Duvs and Pilleated Woodpeckers out. Anyways I saw this bird. It looked like a Great Blue Herun. Except it was little. What bird is this?” – Jon and Jane Doe.
9. Maybe its just me, but I’m a bit weary of birdwatchers using a listserv, facebook, etc. as a tool to have birders identify birds for them. Back before so many birders walked around with digital cameras, this didn’t happen very often. I urge less experienced birders to use a bird book before taking their questions to the masses.
10. Have, and embrace, a sense of humor. This is the best way to navigate the internet, I assure you.