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WSO comes to the rescue of WISBIRDN

Listserv gains a new owner - and some updates

In late September, the Wisconsin Birding Network (WISBIRDN) mailing list transitioned to the ownership of the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology).

All of the technical details were engineered  by Tom Sykes, the longtime former list owner, and Sunil Gopalan, WSO vice president and web administrator. Gopalan and Sykes both issued email announcements of the transition.

Sykes saluted WSO for coming to the listserv’s rescue, saying he was “taken aback (pleasantly so) to see all the interest from so many to keep the list going. When I first posted that the list was shutting down, you would have thought I was threatening to shoot the family dog!”

A message from Sykes to WISBIRDN users urging  them to indirectly support WISBIRDN by directly supporting WSO prompted several to join the conservation organization.


Sunil Gopalan, Vice-President WSO Board of Directors

Gopalan, of Middleton in Dane County,  spelled out some of the transition details, and added: “I sincerely appreciate everything that Tom has put into the creation and operation of this mailing list - and he will continue to be on it.”

-- WSO is now the list owner - you can reach me regarding anything relevant to list ownership via email at
-- Steve Holzman, of Grafton in Ozaukee County,  is our volunteer administrator - you can reach him directly at but you can always reach the active administrator via email at - for now that gets funneled to Steve and if there are more administrators/moderators in the future, they will be added automatically to that email.
-- WISBIRDN has always had a web page - but it is now hosted at the WSO site. You can access it at
     There have been some updates:
-- There's a Most Recent Messages list right off that page. You can use to see what's happening on the list at a glance without needing to log into your email account . Gopalan encouraged users to bookmark that page.
-- There are some updates to the FAQs/Welcome Message – mostly referencing the updated contact information.

--No major updates have been made to the listserv rules or operating procedures, but please familiarize yourself with the WSO Code Of Ethics. As the list is now a function of WSO, this code should serve as a guide:

-- Tell me what might help!
I'm eager to hear your suggestions and feedback about anything that might make this a more useful resource to us all.
-- Keep an eye out on the WSO/WISBIRDN page for other updates:

In his email, Sykes, who now lives in southeast Arizona,  said:

“It’s official. WISBIRDN is now under the WSO umbrella and will live on. Many thanks to WSO President Mary Korkor, Badger Birder Editor Carl Schwartz and Vice President/WSO Web Administrator Sunil Gopalan for making this happen.

“When the list was started, I had no idea it would have lasted this long, especially given the decline in listservs in general. However, as I mentioned in my original post about pulling the plug, I still firmly believe that listservs provide a valuable forum. Not just listing a rare bird sighting but to encourage ongoing discussions about birds and birding. There are many excellent birders on this list willing to share their knowledge - that’s not something you find on eBird.

“Facebook? You can post photos. You can share some conversations. But within hours posts get buried and are difficult to retrieve. And for many who responded to my initial email, Facebook is simply not an option.

“WISBIRDN provides is an easily searchable archive, so posts don’t get buried. Above all, it’s a great way to build lasting friendships...many personal friendships which I have come to cherish…. I find it deeply gratifying to know that WISBIRDN will continue. …

“When I initially posted that I was ending the list, some wrote to ask if they might pay a fee to help keep the list alive. Fortunately, the list has always been free whether it was hosted on the servers at Lawrence University or when it migrated to

“But your offer of a fee got me to thinking. Consider as an alternative, a much more practical way to indirectly support WISBIRDN by directly supporting WSO. There’s an old adage, “Think globally, act locally”.  By joining WSO you’ll be acting locally, supporting an organization that for years has been a leading steward for Wisconsin birds. Your support will allow WSO to continue providing publications and programs to help strengthen the birding community. Your support will help WSO’s efforts at bird related research, conservation initiatives and ongoing environment education programs.

“BUT wait. There’s more! By becoming a member, you will gain exclusive online access to Wisconsin’s Favorite Haunts, issues of The Passenger Pigeon journal, and the monthly online editions of The Badger Birder newsletter. Plus, a 30% discount on all Princeton University Press bird-related titles.

“A basic membership? For individuals or households it’s $40. Does that sound like a lot? Consider two people dining out at a Friday night fish fry. From my own experience it easily adds up to that and more. $40 gets you a whole year of supporting WSO and with no indigestion. Are you a full-time student? $25. Memberships also make great birthday and holiday gifts…”

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Holzman also posted a quick introduction as a new listserv admin who also is new to the state:

“When Tom sent his email about WISBIRDN I quickly contacted him to let him know that I'd be happy to help out in any way I could to keep WISBIRDN active.  I started the Georgia birding email list back in 1998 after being exposed to a similar list from my short time in Oregon. I ran the Georgia list for about 20 years, and I know that people can get a lot out of this type of birding communication. I'm glad that this can continue for our new adopted state.

“I recently retired from 30 years with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service doing mostly GIS (mapping) and Data Management. My wife (Rachel) and I are both originally from the Midwest so we thought it might be fun to move back here after living in Georgia and Oregon during these last 30+ years. When in Georgia, I served as business manager, conservation chair, and eventually president of the Georgia Ornithological Society.

“We look forward to meeting other birders around the state … and both believe there is no 'wrong' way to bird and enjoy backyard birds, photographing birds, chasing rarities, maintaining lists, and working towards the conservation of birds and other native wildlife and wildlands.

“My eBird profile is public: if you want to see where I've birded and any photos. Rachel's is here:

Steve Holzman - eBird Profile Pic

Steve Holzman - Saving birds and Wisbirdn!