Welcome to Brooklyn Bird Alert. I am David Barrett, and I created this Twitter-based alert system in November 2017 to offer Brooklyn birders a single, publicly-viewable (and searchable) source for rare bird reports, relevant birding news, and birding photography and videography.
For some years Brooklynites had to monitor a collection of sources to receive all alerts: public and private listservs, Facebook posts, eBird reports, websites, and birder tweets. Monitoring even the tweets alone proved challenging, as there had been no single master Twitter account to follow—each birder had to try to follow every other birder. Many opted to make “birding only” Twitter accounts so that others could turn on mobile notifications for any tweets from them.
Still, it is likely that most birders do not follow all accounts that could potentially tweet a rarity. It’s hard to keep up, as new birders arrive on the scene and create accounts. Everyone sees a different picture of the day’s activity, and there is no place to see a complete chronological record of all the day’s alerts.
Having a single, master Twitter account for bird alerts solves these problems. Each birder needs to follow and turn on mobile notifications for only one account, in this case @BirdBrklyn. And they never have to worry about managing updates to the Brooklyn birder roster—the master account handles that for them.
New or visiting birders gain quick access to the alerts, simply by following them and asking (via direct message to @BirdBrklyn) to be followed.
Sending an alert to everyone is easy—just tweet with a mention of us:
- COMMON GALLINULE near LeFrak Center in Prospect Park @BirdBrklyn
We will be notified of your tweet and can pass along info with credit to you. Note that as of March 2023, you also want to send a quick Direct Message on Twitter to @BirdBrklyn letting us know you have an alert, as Twitter notifications on mentions are not always working.
This approach eliminates another bother, the need to have a “birding only” account (though those still will work just fine, of course).
So this alert system clearly is a great way to share information over Twitter. It has other advantages, too, over listservs and the like:
- Ease of use in the field: as simple as sending a text message. No need to sign your name or compose a topic heading.
- Mobile notifications: it’s easy to turn these on and have your phone notify you with vibration or sound (which you can choose to be unique for this account, so you can distinguish bird alerts “by ear”) as soon as an alert is issued. It is also easy to turn them off, with just one click, if you do not want notifications, say, when you are not actually birding.
- Ideal for photos, maps, and videos: Twitter lets you attach these multimedia files with one click (no need to link to a photo-sharing site) and lets users view them immediately without having to open a browser.
- Potential reach: alerts are always publicly viewable and searchable both online and on Twitter itself, a messaging network with many millions of users.
- Multi-borough adoption: use @BirdCentralPark when you bird Manhattan; @BirdQueens for Queens and Long Island; @BirdBronx for the Bronx. Easy!
Easier Reporting Encourages More Reports
The number of people issuing bird reports has grown remarkably over the years in which the Manhattan alerts have been operating. We have over 75,000 followers, many of them casual birders who sometimes report great finds. Crowd-sourcing works! But first you need to attract the crowd.
I hope you will try this system and see how it can make your birding more productive and enjoyable. Feel free to email me or direct message me on Twitter with any questions or comments.
I have posted a user guide—see the above menu.