ABA Debuts Birding News!
by Jeff Gordon
Since the early 1990’s at least, birders have been sharing news via e-mail subscription lists. These lists were a great way to keep up with the birding scene in a given region. But they weren’t always the most convenient things to work with, especially if you just wanted to check in on what’s going on in a region but didn't want to go through the process of subscribing, figuring out settings, managing e-mail flow, and so on.
Enter Jack Siler and Birdingonthe.net. Jack is a Philadelphia birder and ABA member who long ago saw a need for a single place where all these user-generated news feeds could be aggregated and easily accessed. Nothing like that existed, so Jack, who isn't officially a web programmer, went ahead and built it himself. His groundbreaking site, especially the BirdMail page, quickly became one of the most heavily trafficked and most beloved birding spots on the entire world wide web.
And for years, Jack has maintained the site with incredible dedication and attention to detail on which thousands have come to rely. But the time has come for Jack to move on to other things including, we hope, getting a well-deserved break from tending these particular fires.
We’re thrilled that Jack has honored us by passing the torch of his inspired marshalling of local, regional, national and international birding mail lists to the American Birding Association. The result is ABA's Birding News (birding.aba.org). We’ve worked hard and are working hard to preserve Jack’s vision while building an entirely new site that incorporates the expanded possibilites of rapidly evolving web technology. We hope you're as excited by the initial results and the possibilites for the future as we are.
We have updated the inner workings of the site, allowing us to archive more messages on each list (30 day’s worth, instead of just a couple dozen), and to filter the messages so you can easily see reports of rarities based on the ABA checklist codes. Additionally, we’ve plugged in social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, so you can easily share messages that you find interesting, funny, provocative, or otherwise worthwhile with a huge audience that would have been highly unlikely to see them previously.
We at the ABA have always believed that the birding community is an immense storehouse of incredibly valuable and hard-won knowledge. And that birders know an awful lot about how to have a good time, plus some great stories of having some not-so-good times. We've always tried to shape and curate that knowledge and experience into useful things like the ABA/Lane Birdfinding Guides. Birding News is an attempt to do the same thing for the millions of bytes of birding information that go winging around the web every day. We want to make it all easier, more useful, and more fun.
The best part is, this is only the beginning. We can't wait to see what you, the birding community, make of Birding News. We promise to keep making it better, responding to your comments and suggestions, learning together as we all move forward. It's what birders do, after all.
We'll be talking a lot more, here and elsewhere, about Birding News. For now, go on over and have a look around. We think you're going to like what you see.
The address is easy. Say it with me: BIRDING dot ABA dot ORG! birding.aba.org Remember it. Visit it. Bookmark it, and the individual lists you visit often. And tell your friends.
Special congratulations are due to ABA's David Hartley and Greg Neise for their painstaking work setting this all up. They were aided by a succession of contract programmers, especially Greg Mahoney and Andy Sheppard. Thanks, too, to Carrie Hartley for a fresh but classic new look.
And finally, once again, thank you Jack Siler! For your hard work, your creativity, and your involvement in the birding community. We can't begin to express our gratitude that you've trusted the ABA with your baby. We aim to make you, and all birders, proud.