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Rarity’s.... how to find them...


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9 minutes ago, IKLland said:

I was wondering for some tips to find rare birds, since I have only had one, American oystercatcher.

thanks

costal Orange County , Ca

If you are on ebird, you can subscribe to Rare Bird Alerts for any place you specify--like your county or your state.

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You just have to be at the right place at the right time 😎

Usually if you frequent a certain area, you are bound to find something remotely interesting after a while. No guarantees though of course. 
Sometimes paying attention to the weather can help as birds are often blown of course by tropical storms, or other weather events. Sometimes even heavy snowfall and rain can drive migrating birds down in a ‘fallout’ which can provide some interesting finds. 

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8 hours ago, Aaron said:

You just have to be at the right place at the right time 😎

Usually if you frequent a certain area, you are bound to find something remotely interesting after a while. 

I strongly agree with these. A lot of It is luck, with a little bit of skill, that comes in with recognizing you are seeing a rarity. But really it’s a lot of luck. I literally drove up to a golf course near my house to see if the pine grosbeaks were still there, and to see if my car worked, and I happened to find a 4th state record. I forget what philosopher made up this law, but whatever can happen, will happen given enough time. 

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27 minutes ago, IKLland said:

Find

If you want to find rare birds for your self, there's a few things you'll need to do. Remember, you're in the Orange County area, so rare birds can show up anywhere, which is a plus. First, You need to get reeky familiar with all of your normal birds, learn all plumages, learn everythings calls and songs. This will first help you, as you can spend more time looking for something out of the ordinary, as if you hear a Townsend's Warbler chip, you wouldn't need to spend tons of time looking for it. It also makes you a better birder in general. Once you are pretty confident with all of your local birds, there are a few things you can do to greatly increase your chances of finding a rarity. First, migration is key, there will be lots of birds moving through the area, and you're more likely to find something interesting. I will note, winter isn't bad in the LA/Orange/San Diego area, I know a lot of birds are still being found, and I found some things when I was down there for 2 days in February. Next, even though rarities get spread out in the LA area, the old saying still holds true, Location, Location, Location! Find parks with lots of trees and habitat, something that stands out from the surrounding neighborhoods. While some lesser rarities often show up in neighborhoods, it's still better to head to parks and places where there is better habitat. And lastly, you want to be in the mindset of finding something interesting. This might seem dumb, but most rare birds are found by people looking for rare birds, and that especially holds true with passerines. If you want to find something, look for it. Intently check every flock of birds that you come by, pish birds in, listen for anything out of the ordinary.  I'm sure much more could be added on to this.

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Once you know the common birds well, you will notice just a little different about something uncommon. If you are not familiar with the common birds though you won't notice that deference.  As @Connor Cochrane has already mentioned it definitely helps if you are expecting to see something rare. If I go out looking for a rare bird I can almost always find something rare or at lest uncommon.

I could say all the same things @Connor Cochrane has all ready said, but he did it better than I can so I wont try.

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The point of this topic is FINDING, not CHASING...
Paying attention to rare birds popping up in other counties in your state is a good idea as well. You can pick up on unusual birds moving through your general region, then use that knowledge to pick specific targets, and be the first in your county to find a certain species.

Pay attention to weather patterns as well. During spring, try to get out birding after a clear night with winds out of the south. If you’re near the coast, strong wind events can blow pelagic migrants closer to shore. Pay attention to weather fronts and use them to your advantage!

While others here suggest that finding rarities comes down to luck, that is only a part of it. Really, there are three main components - LUCK, STRATEGY, and SEARCH EFFORT. 

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As many people have already written about, there are many factors that go into FINDING rare birds, and luck can be one of them, but is by far not the most important.  It's not simply a coincidence that good and experienced birders find good birds. 

In terms of finding a rarity, one of the most important things you can do is to rule out the expected and common species in your area. My biggest piece of advice is to familiarize yourself well with the field marks, behavior, calls, songs, etc., of your local and expected species, both residents and migrants. That way you will know when something different shows up and it will trip your ID sense that something is not what it should be and you should try to figure out what it is. 

Hearing a song or call that is unfamiliar, or seeing a drab fall warbler or shorebird that just feels "off" to you from what you are used to seeing is often the first step to IDing something rare. One can do this much more reliably when they have a good grasp on IDing their local birds. There is always that unmistakable mega rare crippler that will show up (a Common Cuckoo doesn't look like anything else in N.A. for example), but more often than not you will find someone good that actually looks like another species and you have been the one who eliminated the more expected possibility.

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39 minutes ago, IKLland said:

I will sign up for the ebird alerts for Orange County and will take all the advice you gave. I will try to also chase birds that I get alerts for in orange.

Thanks everyone

Nice! I think you will enjoy seeing some of the birds that will come your way via the Rare Bird Alert. Orange County has amazing bird diversity and get juicy rarities. Good luck!

FWIW, new and novice birders do find mind-bending rarities form time to time. But more often than not it's experienced birders who do. So, there is no harm at all in chasing birds, especially as a novice birder. With time spent in the field (Mega important) and enough practice, you will find a rare bird on your own one day. And when you do, you will be able to share it with others via the Rare Bird Alert 😁

All the best!

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3 minutes ago, Kevin said:

You get an email when you see a rarity?

If you report a rare bird, then it shows up in the rare bird emails, regardless of who saw it. For example, I report Northern Cardinals I see as the common subspecies, and the filter has that as rare, so that people have to explain why they are reporting the correct subspecies. Then I see my report in the emails

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16 minutes ago, Aaron said:

That feeling when you get the email and it has your name and a big ole CONFIRMED at the end of it.... Ooh hoo boy, that is the stuff. 

Even better when you start to see other well known birders reporting your bird!

Edited by Avery
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2 minutes ago, Avery said:

If you report a rare bird, then it shows up in the rare bird emails, regardless of who saw it. For example, I report Northern Cardinals I see as the common subspecies, and the filter has that as rare, so that people have to explain why they are reporting the correct subspecies. Then I see my report in the emails

Oh, I see. I don't get them.

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57 minutes ago, Connor Cochrane said:

There are needs alerts. 

Yeah, I’m signed up for my life needs, but the yearly needs would send me a lot of alerts I don’t need. For example, I want alerts for Bohemian Waxwings in my area, and Northern Shrikes, even though I have encountered the waxwings this year and the shrike in last years. 

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1 hour ago, Avery said:

Yeah, I’m signed up for my life needs, but the yearly needs would send me a lot of alerts I don’t need. For example, I want alerts for Bohemian Waxwings in my area, and Northern Shrikes, even though I have encountered the waxwings this year and the shrike in last years. 

Yeah, the only workaround I have found to situations such as this is to monitor eBird in your local county/area frequently, which I guess is not really a workaround. If I want to see specific species for the year, I will just check eBird species maps once a day for that species because like you, I don't want the year needs alert filling my inbox.

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