The End of the WSO Hotline
by Mark Korducki
After several decades of service, the WSO Phone Hotline will be discontinued as of May 31st, 2012. The decision was made final at the WSO Board Meeting in April. With the rise of the internet, smart phones and other electronic communication devices, the use of the hotline has dropped off dramatically over the past several years. The cost of maintaining it is fairly high and we reached a point where the limited use of the hotline no longer justified the expense. I am writing this article to outline some other ways that birders can gather bird sightings in the absence of the hotline.
The Wisconsin Society for Ornithology has an excellent webpage that has recently been updated and is very easy to use. Paul Jakoubek, the Web Administrator, created a Rare Bird Alert link for me to use. I have been doing online updates for the past month. It is very easy to use and I find myself updating it several times a week rather than the typical once a week with the phone updates. To use this option, go to the WSO website at http://wsobirds.org/ and click on the Rare Bird Alerts link on the top left side of the page. Right now all the updates I have done back to March are there with the most recent listed first.
Another very popular option is Wisbirdnet. This is a site where current bird sightings and topics are posted. You receive e-mail updates and can also post your sightings, ask questions about birding and have discussions about current bird related issues. Nearly all of the rare bird sightings I have put on the hotline over the past 15 years have come through this source. To join the Wisbirdnet go to http://www.freelists.org/list/wisbirdn and follow the instructions to join. For those who are worried about receiving too many e-mails, you can view the content of this list without having to join wisbirdn. There is an archive at http://www.freelists.org/archive/wisbirdn where all the e-mails are posted. The only disadvantage to that is you won’t be able to post your sightings or questions but will still be able to view all the current sightings.
I enjoyed my 20 year run as the voice of WSO Hotline. I am excited to continue to gather and post rare bird alerts through the WSO Website and Wisbirdn.
Posted: May 26th, 2012