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Rare Bird News
by Keith Hackland (alamoinn@aol.com)
published December 2016

What rare birds are around? Where can we find them? Generally that is the first question we hear from birders visiting the Valley. After that subject has been exhausted the next subject is "Any good restaurants in the area?" So we hand out a list of our favorite restaurants to our guests.

Back to birds ... it is a safe assumption that some rarities are around, because the Valley is a top spot in the nation for rarities to show up. The first concern is whether a rare bird has been discovered. Next question is whether it has been reported.

There are many ways to broadcast the news of rarities, and most of these are open forums accessible to anyone interested. Nationally there is the North American Rare Bird Alert, and for $50 per year subscribers receive alerts on rare birds anywhere in the nation, delivered to their email.

Blog: rgvbirds
In Texas, we have several regional rare bird alerts (rba), and in particular for the Valley, our rba goes back decades. It used to be a recorded telephone voice mail message for birders to call and listen in on. The message was updated when new birds showed up, and birders could leave messages regarding their noteworthy sightings.

Today the Valley's rare bird alerts are online at rgvbirds.blogspot.com, a site maintained by Mary Gustafson as a service to birders.

Forum: texbirds
A valuable forum with a history of decades is texbirds. This forum is currently found at surfbirds.com/birdingmail/Group/Texas_Birds. The simplest way to locate it is to google texbirds. The forum has typically about 2,500 subscribers and it operates as a posting forum about Texas bird sightings. Posts may be information (such as a list of birds and notes from a birding outing or trip) or questions, and are frequently answered and amplified by other subscribers. Anyone can subscribe, providing they follow the rules of the forum. Anyone can read the posts. Often posts refer to blogs or photo websites where one can find more detail. Texbirds is archived and provides useful historical information for birders and researchers.

Facebook: Rio Grande Valley Birds
This entertaining face book forum, with contributions from many Valley birders, provides a mixture of photos and information. It is easy viewing and generally provides up to date reports on rare birds. It has a mixture of experienced and new birders, and can be entertaining with the usual range of comments encountered on face book. There is a trade out compared to the other sites mentioned, with less "hard" information than on texbirds and on the blog site, but easy reading and great photos.

Other sites ...
Go to alamoinnbnb.com and click the link marked blog to see a blogsite with photos and stories by Mary Beth Stowe, the Birding Pro at Alamo Inn B&B, Gear and Tours. Keith Hackland also contributes stories on birding the valley. This blog provides information on what one might see on a guided tour, as well as other information on the area.

Searching the internet and facebook with relevant terms does bring up numerous other birding sites. The largest valley birding and butterfly web site is maintained by Jan Dauphin. It was set up and filled with information by her and her late husband, David Dauphin. thedauphins.net

Each birding destination in the Valley has a web site with good information. Simply google the name to find their site. One that is useful is theworldbirdingcenter.com, offering links to the sites of the nine world birding centers.

Another with information about birding that may not be easily found elsewhere, is southtexasnature.org the site for South Texas Nature.

Another information source used by visiting birders is a simple white board maintained at most visitor centers of their recently seen rarities. It is usually the first stop at any visitor center for birders. We maintain a paper white board at Alamo Inn B&B of Valley wide rarities, of birds and butterflies. Get out there and enjoy our unique Valley wildlife.