Manhattan Bird Alert — @BirdCentralPark on Twitter

Most of our followers come to see some of the finest bird and nature photography and videography on Twitter.

We have also been first to announce nearly every noteworthy rare bird in Manhattan since our founding in May 2013.

We’re famous for breaking the story of the Central Park Mandarin Duck, beginning October 10, 2018. We have been featured in the New York Times, the New Yorker magazine, the BBC,  the New York Postand New York Magazine.

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I developed and continue to manage this Twitter site for quickly sharing information about birding in Manhattan. You can put crowdsourcing to work and observe more birds while helping others do the same.

View the most recent alerts at twitter.com/BirdCentralPark.

Guidelines for the Alerts

Issue an alert for any observation or comment you believe may be of interest to active Manhattan birders and nature enthusiasts. No species are off limits. In particular, owl reports are welcome. (If you want to pass along a report without having your name or username publicly disclosed, just direct message the @BirdCentralPark account and say so. I will issue the alert myself without attribution.)

We also post excellent butterfly and insect photography, along with that of reptiles (such as frogs and snapping turtles) and even mammals (such as woodchucks, coyotes, and seals). That said, alerts primarily should be of rare, uncommon, or noteworthy wild birds in Manhattan.

Bird alerts should have these two data: 1) the full common name of the species (abbreviations are discouraged because they can be cryptic to new birders) and 2) the location, as precise as practical, of the bird, including the park name. If the time is not reasonably close to now, that, too, should be noted.

As new migrants arrive throughout the year, even common ones like Eastern Phoebe and Yellow Warbler, users often alert their first and subsequent next few appearances. Doing so is helpful and encouraged, but use your judgement regarding when to stop. Ask yourself: would birders want to go out of their way to see my bird?

Photos and videos are the most popular posts, and we welcome them. We pass along contributions from some of New York’s best wildlife photographers, so the standards for getting retweeted are high. Ideally they will accompany a current bird alert (e.g., “Photo of Prothonotary Warbler being seen now ….”), but they can also be from the more distant past. We may opt to relay non-current photo and video posts during evening hours so that during during daytime birding hours followers get only current alerts.

We also relay excellent photos not just of birds, but of wildlife in general — butterflies, bees, frogs, turtles, opossums, and seals, among others.

Please crop your photos so that they display entirely in the Twitter app preview windows. This is essential! Twitter viewers move quickly. If they do not see a bird in the preview window, they move on.

How it works

When accounts followed by us and entered into our proprietary system tweet using the #birdcp hashtag, our software alerts us of the tweet so that we can review it and decide what to do. This eliminates the need for each user to follow every other user.

Now that we have tens of thousands of followers worldwide, we exercise more control over what our account tweets. We longer automatically retweet anyone. We edit tweet text to make it more presentable to our followers, and we are selective about what we choose to pass along or retweet. We try to space retweets out so that viewers have time to appreciate them and do not feel “spammed” by a fusillade of tweets.

How to set it up

1) If you don’t already have a Twitter account, make one. They are free and easy to create. See these directions.

2) Follow @BirdCentralPark from your Twitter account and the alerts will appear on your Twitter feed, effective immediately. If this is all you want, you are done.

3) If you want to also be a contributor, send a direct message to @BirdCentralPark and say so. This is the surest way to make contact. You can also tweet at us, with whatever you want to show us, and this usually works, too, but sometimes we get swamped and will not see a tweet from an account we do not follow.

4) If want to contribute, you should let @BirdCentralPark follow you—otherwise, we will not see your tweets or get alerts on them from our system.

How to set up alert notifications on your device

The power of this alert system is that it is very fast, allowing you the chance to reach a bird before it is gone. To take advantage, you want your mobile device to notify you when a bird alert is issued.

If you have a smartphone, you should enable “push notifications” on your Android or iOS Twitter app via your app’s settings. Then go to the @BirdCentralPark account by searching for it or looking it up on your “Following” list. Click on the bell icon and turn on account notifications for “All tweets.” That’s all!

If you have a non-smartphone, you are out of luck! Twitter eliminated support for SMS relay of tweets earlier in 2020. When we begin in 2013 nearly everyone used SMS relay, even on smartphones. Technology changes quickly.  So it goes.

How to send an alert

An alert is simply a “tweet” sent with the hashtag #birdcp, which can appear anywhere in the body of the message. See the examples below.

You should tweet from the Twitter app on your mobile device. See Twitter support if you need help with this. Of course, you also can tweet from your PC using the Twitter website.

Birders use longstanding names of Central Park birding locations in their alerts. Here they are: map of Central Park birding locations. If you want to post or chase bird alerts, you should learn these locations.

If you have questions or comments on these alerts, contact me here.

Examples

  • Solitary Sandpiper working the SE end of Turtle Pond. #birdcp
  • Excellent raptor flight viewed from the Great Hill. Kettles of Broad-winged Hawks and some Sharp-shinned. #birdcp
  • Over a dozen warbler species including Tennessee and Blackburnian, north end of Strawberry Fields. #birdcp
  • #birdcp Orchard Orioles singing in trees by the soccer fields, E end of Inwood Hill Park.