October 2009

Funny videos

My wife just sent me these. I must share with you. Sorry for the non-birding content.

Model on the catwalk. Smile, turn around and oops!

The world’s worst actor. Yes a soccer player!


If you’re going to fall, do it with style!


A cat with poor eyesight!




Feel the force!


brazil vs argentina


Catch-as-catch-can Football!


Isn´t this a british show?


You don’t work out in jeans!


Now this is pretty stupid!

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Extreme Gadfly Petrel Expeditions

The recently rediscovered Beck's Petrel, in the Bismarcks, PNG. Photo: Hadoram Shirihai © Copyright, Tubenoses Project

The recently rediscovered Beck's Petrel, in the Bismarcks, PNG. Photo: Hadoram Shirihai © Copyright, Tubenoses Project

Readers of this blog may remember an interview with Tony Pym and Hadoram Shirihai regarding the first photographs of Fiji Petrel. Hadoram is aiming high with the tubenose project and the forthcoming book, that yet more lost seabirds shall be found.  And what is more, you can join him.


The following challenging pelagic expeditions are being organised as part of the on-going Tubenoses Project (Shirihai, H. & Bretagnolle, V. In prep. Illus. by Cox J. Albatrosses, petrels and shearwaters of the world: a handbook to their taxonomy, identification, ecology and conservation, A & C Black, London), and represent an effort to collect further data on the identification, variation, distribution and population sizes of some of the least known petrels on the planet.

The expeditions listed below are non-commercial pelagic voyages with all participants, including the organisers, equally sharing the costs of chartering the vessels. The expeditions will be conducted in a similar manner to recent voyages that led to the rediscovery of Beck’s Petrel Pterodroma becki in 2007 in the Bismarck archipelago (Shirihai 2008), and the first pelagic observations of Zino’s Petrel Pterodroma madeira in April 2009, off Madeira (Shirihai 2009), and Fiji Petrel Pseudobulweria macgillivrayi, off Gau Island, Fiji (Shirihai et al. 2009).

The first photographically documented and confirmed at-sea record of the Fiji Petrel, off Gau, Fiji. Photo: Hadoram Shirihai © Copyright, Tubenoses Project

The first photographically documented and confirmed at-sea record of the Fiji Petrel, off Gau, Fiji. Photo: Hadoram Shirihai © Copyright, Tubenoses Project

Up-coming expeditions (2009):

(1) Search for the Jamaican Petrel (presumed extinct) off Jamaica:

This voyage will run from 17th November to 1st December 2009, using a fast ocean-going boat. Depending on the weather conditions, we will spend 7 to 10 days at sea off Jamaica.

The Jamaican Petrel had been described to science, when it promptly disappeared; its last confirmed record was in 1891, almost two decades after mongooses were believed introduced onto the main island of Jamaica. Hopes remain that a tiny population of Jamaican Petrels still survive in the extensive tracts of suitable forest habitat. Moreover, mongooses have not prevented Black-capped Petrels from breeding in the Dominican Republic and Haiti. Several attempts have been made over the last decades to find the Jamaican Petrel on land, specifically in the Blue Mountains, without success.  None of these expeditions have searched at sea, a proven strategy as described above.

In preparation for this expedition, HS visited Jamaica (March-April 2009) to see habitats that might support a population of breeding petrels, and also viewed the breeding habitat of Black-capped Petrels in the Dominican Republic. HS and Vincent Bretagnolle have made a geographical survey (using satellite image maps and marine charts) and have analysed meteorological data for the region; parameters that contributed to the successful studies of Beck’s, Zino’s and Fiji Petrels at sea. From this analysis, a very specific oceanic corridor has been proposed that might be used by any Jamaican Petrels travelling to and from the island.

The plan is to intensively search this area and to use 1.5 tons of chum that will be prepared by our ground team and a local fish factory. The material will be kept aboard ship in dedicated freezers.

For logistical reasons, there is room for only 4 expedition members and currently there is only one spot available; the expedition share is US$7000.

Please contact HS at albatross_shirihai@hotmail.com to sign on, or for further information about the voyage, its plans and conditions.

(2) Search for the recently rediscovered Vanuatu Petrel in the remote Banks Group:

This two-week voyage, 13th to the 28th December 2009, will use a 72ft. expedition research vessel sailing out of the port of Santo, Vanuatu.

The Vanuatu Petrel Pterodroma occulta was collected in January 1927, by Rollo Beck (Whitney South Sea Expedition), though it was overlooked as a White-necked Petrel P. cervicalisuntil Imber and Tennyson (2001) drew attention to the fact that the specimens were distinctly smaller and represented an unrecognised species. Since then an additional specimen was found ashore in eastern Australia in 1983. The first at-sea record was of a bird observed by HS in January 2006 between New Caledonia and Vanuatu. Then in 2007, two/three birds were sighted off southern Vanuatu. There is recent evidence (still unpublished) that suggests a breeding population on at least one island in Vanuatu.

In December 2009 we shall try to obtain further data on this population, both at sea and on several islands in the remote Banks group. Dr. Vincent Bretagnolle, Dr. Orian Shirihai and HS are the organisers of this expedition. Besides studying petrels and other seabirds, the expedition will seek out some of the landbirds of the islands and also study tribal customs of the indigenous islanders, including the use of alternative medicines.

Only 7 expedition members can be accommodated on the vessel, the remaining space will be occupied by a set of huge freezers that will store two tons of chum for use during the planned mass chumming operations.

To date there are 5 on board, and two more are welcome, at US$7000 per person. This rate will be discounted for students and those from conservation bodies to US$5000 per person.

Please contact directly HS at albatross_shirihai@hotmail.com to sign up, or for further information about the voyage plans and conditions.

Expeditions planned for 2010 & 2011:

Further information on the following will be posted nearer the times:


The first photographically documented at-sea record of the Zino's Petrel, off Madeira, Portugal. Photo: Hadoram Shirihai © Copyright, Tubenoses Project

The first photographically documented at-sea record of the Zino's Petrel, off Madeira, Portugal. Photo: Hadoram Shirihai © Copyright, Tubenoses Project

Off Madeira: To study Zino’s Petrel at sea, 20th-30th June (with Hadoram Shirihai & Tony Pym, and the organisation of Madeira Wind Birds).

Guadalupe Islands, Mexico: In search of the (believed extinct) Guadalupe Storm Petrel, March 2010 or 2011, with Hadoram Shirihai.


Chatham Islands: In search of the Magenta Pterodroma magentaeand Chatham Island Petrel P. axillaris (tentatively scheduled for Dec), and most of the local land-bird endemics. With Tony Pym & Hadoram Shirihai. For further information please contact Tony (tony_pym@hotmail.com).

Juan Fernández archipelago, Chile: For the three endemic eastern tropical Pacific Pterodroma (during Nov-Dec), namely Juan Fernandez Petrel Pterodroma externa, Stejneger’s Petrel Pterodroma longirostris and Defilippi’s Petrel Pterodroma defilippiana; with the organisation and co-leadership of Ross Wanless (and Hadoram Shirihai for the work on petrels at sea). We will also endeavour to see the landbird endemics. For further information please contact Ross (rosswanless@gmail.com).

Eastern Tropical Pacific off Peru: To study storm petrels (tentatively Jan 2011), with Hadoram Shirihai, and with the organisation of Gunnar Engblom (Kolibri Expeditions). For further information please contact Gunnar (kolibriexp@gmail.com).

Off Reunion, Indian Ocean: Seeking field knowledge on the poorly known Mascarene Petrel Pseudobulweria aterrimawith Tony Pym and Hadoram Shirihai (expedition dates to be announced).

Regular updates on these expeditions will be posted on Seabird-News (Angus Wilson and/or Tony Pym), Facebook group Pelagics – Seabirds Worldwide and on this Gunnar Engblom’s (Kolibri Expeditions) blog.


Brooke, M. 2004. Albatrosses and petrels across the world. Oxford Univ. Press.

Imber, M. J.  and Tennyson, A. J. D. 2001. A new petrel species (Procellariidae) from the south-west Pacific. Emu 101, 123–127.

Shirihai, H. Rediscovery of Beck’s Petrel Pseudobulweria becki, and other observations of tubenoses from the Bismarck archipelago, Papua New Guinea. Bull. B.O.C. 2008 128(1).

Shirihai, H. 2009. The Zino’s Petrel at sea expedition II – and the best pelagic birding in the Western Palearctic. Birding World 22: 204-218.

Shirihai, H., Pym, T., Kretzschmar, J., Moce K., Taukei, A. & Watling D. First observations of Fiji Petrel Pseudobulweria macgillivrayi at sea: off Gau Island, Fiji, in May  2009. Bull. B.O.C. 2009. 3: 129-148.

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How I wish it look like this at Pantanos de Villa, Lima!

Waiting for a birdparty!

Waiting for a birdparty!

Most keen birders have got the news, and probably also most people in the US, have heard of the Mega rarity found in  NE  England at Trow Quarry in South Shields, South Tyneside .

The DailyPost article writes:

Hundreds of twitchers descend on quarry after rare Asian bird never before seen in the UK flaps into view. Lined up in neat rows with binoculars poised, they look like they’re waiting for the arrival of royalty. But these photographers have their lenses trained on an altogether rarer sight…… the first ever sighting in Britain of a bird called the eastern crowned warbler. ….read the full article here..

Eastern Crowned Warbler. Photo: Craig Shaw.

Eastern Crowned Warbler. Photo: Craig Shaw.

Eastern Crowned Warbler. Photo; Craig Shaw

Eastern Crowned Warbler. Photo; Craig Shaw

Craig Shaw has more pictures and his story on his Photo Blog.

The Story of the MEGA-Twitch

The above is how the news hit me, but let’s look how the story evolved. If you are a member of BirdForum you can read the whole thread in Local Patch forum from NE England – Tyne and Wear.  The thread starts on Page 137!

Dougie Holden had the day off work, because it was his wedding anniversary on October 22 and bummed off a couple of hours in the middle of the day to do some birding. He met up with his friend Derek Bilton at the quary. Derek spotted  the bird after only 5 minutes, which Dougie ID:ed as a Yellow-browed Warbler, which certainly is not a bad bird itself and would have been a lifer for Derek. Dougie managed to take a photo. This one, that has been circled the world since Thursday:

Eastern Crowned Warbler. Photo: Dougie Holden

Eastern Crowned Warbler. Photo: Dougie Holden

Dougie had uploaded severa photos apart from this one, and a discussion started regarding the ID of a photographed Short-eared/Long-eared Owl

Dougie sent his note at 6:40 pm. By 7:54 pm Mark Newsome – Durham Bird Club’s County recorder writes:

….I think you should be looking at the photo of Dougie’s ‘Yellow-browed Warbler’ instead. The bird is actually an Eastern Crowned Warbler, a first for Britain.
Oh. My. God.

Mark puts the find into context with a note to birdforum. There were only four previous records in Western Palearctic:

Helgoland, Germany – 4 Oct. 1843
Jaeren, Norway – 30 Sep. 2002
Kokkola, Finland – 24 Oct. 2004
Katwijk, Netherlands – 5 Oct. 2007

Next morning Friday Oct 23, the show started. 150 birders were there at 8 AM. There were reportages and interviews made all day. Dougie was selling autographed Photos at the quary.Interview for Radio Newcastle and TV  interview with BBC News.

Here are the first write-ups:
Jarrow & Hebburn Gazette



Dougie says:

“In the bird watching world, this is the equivalent of winning the World Cup.”

On Saturday Morning Dougie writes on BirdForum.

Hi Folks,

Was up at 4.45 this morning as I can’t seem to sleep just lately (wonder why!) I think I’m just totally overawed by the impact this find has had on the birding world, my local patch, and our thread – Brilliant!

Yesterday was absolute madness from start to finish, hundreds of birders from far and wide descending on Trow, the phones (house & mobile) just didn’t stop ringing all day, I even had a visit from the national press – unbelievable!

I’ve thought a lot about Thursdays ‘find’ and obviously Derek and I played a big part in this, but if we’re honest we had no idea what it was we’d discovered…. so with this in mind I’d like to say a massive thanks to Mark Newsome for his superb identification skills because without his expertise this bird would have just flew south as another Yellow Browed Warbler – well done mate, it’s your bird as much as ours!

I had never even heard of an Eastern Crowned Warbler and couldn’t find reference to it in any of my many bird books; however it’s not a bird I’m likely to forget in a hurry!

Thanks to everyone for the pm’s, texts and emails – I’m just so pleased the bird showed well yesterday and the ‘twitch’ was worthwhile.

Best wishes ‘one and all’

Cheers, Dougie.

Here is the  BBC interview with the Dougie and Mark. The bird was still there on Saturday.

Here is yet another BBC reportage.

And here is some video of the actual bird.

The bird was still there on Saturday. UPDATE: It was not found on the Sunday, when it must have moved on.

Birding in the digital age.

Hadn’t it been for both digital cameras and the information highway on the internet (here via Birdforum – the largest bird related forum on the internet) this bird would most likely have gone undetected, and even if ending up on film, most likely gone by the time the photographer had had the roll developed and finally analyzed by a more widely travelled and experienced birder as Mark Newsome.  It also shows the extreme importance of carrying a camera at all times in the field.

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Short-tailed Albatross and White-chinned Petrel found on two recent pelagics.

White-chinned Petrel

White-chinned Petrel. Photographed in Peru by Gunnar Engblom

Alvaro Jaramillo is one hell of a birder. Born in Chile, but grew up in Toronto where he started birding and eventually specialized on Icterids leading to the publication of New World Blackbirds The Icterids with Peter Burke. A major milestone was his book together with Peter Burke and David Beadle on the Birds of Chile (Princeton Field Guides). He is particularly fund of seabird and have lead numerous pelagics on the Humboldt Current, Antartica  and in Californa. He is a popular guide for Field Guides. He lives with his family in Half Moon Bay, California. Alvaro is also one hell of a nice guy. I am much obliged for a half day he took me birding when visiting California several years back.
Recently, he struck gold as he was leading pelagic birdwatching tours off his home of Half Moon bay organized by Sequoia Audubon Society when the California’s first White-chinned Petrel was found and photographed. The week before Short-tailed Albatross was seen.  He posted a note on BirdChat of his encounters which presently can be found on birdingonthe.net.  He writes:

I had the pleasure of being on a superb pelagic trip right out in my backyard, off Half Moon Bay, California yesterday. Sequoia Audubon Societyorganized this fantastic, trip – thanks Jennifer Rycenga and Gary Deghi for helping to put this together. To give you all some background, I have lived here over a dozen years and we have not had any pelagic trips until last week when the San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory organized one as a fundraiser. This trip ended up finding three species of albatross, Black-footed, Laysan and the ultra rare Short-tailed Albatross.

Short-tailed Albatross. Photo: Alvaro Jaramillo.

Short-tailed Albatross. Photo: Alvaro Jaramillo.

The latter is a highly endangered with just over 2000 individuals. The Japanese are trying to establish the albatross on several other islands to minimize the chance of the entire breeding population being wiped out by volcanic activity or a typhoon. The bird we saw was one of these translocated albatrosses which was sporting a satellite transmitter! It has been great fun learning more about the travels of this bird from the researchers, as well as its history. Amazingly we saw it off central California and a week later it was off Vancouver Island in BC! When they want to move, they go.

We thought there was no way to top last Sunday’s trip, yet we did! Amazingly just after lunch time we saw a dark chocolate colored bird with pale bill that was coming up behind the boat. Obviously, in California waters the default should be Flesh-footed Shearwater as the only thing that fits that general description. But it looked off, as it came in closer, and it became clear that this was a petrel in the genus Procellaria. It was too bulky, with a short tail, thick-neck and had the fulmar-like quality of  looking down at an angle rather than keeping the bill straight ahead as in shearwaters. The default then becomes Parkinson’s Petrel which has been seen in California, but that was wrong too!! This bird was too big, larger than Pink-footed Shearwater and had a dull yellow bill all the way to the tip. I have to admit that I had absolute goose bumps when I realized that this was a White-chinned Petrel, a species I know well from South America – but in California! We were wonderfully fortunate that the bird chose to do some close passes by the boat, and that with some quick chumming from Phil the deckhand we were able to get it interested enough in us to park itself on the water behind the boat. At this point all participants were able to have a look at the bird, and take in the features we were calling out to identify it. As well there were plenty of cameras on board and the bird was duly documented.

White-chinned Petrel. Photo: Alvaro Jaramillo.

White-chinned Petrel. Photo: Alvaro Jaramillo.

More photos of mine can be found on my web-page. Also have a look at these better photos from John Sterling and Kris Olson.

If accepted by the California Bird Records Committee this will become the first for the state. Not only that, it is only the second for the continent. The first being a bird found moribund on the Texas coast which was taken to a rehab place. The bird was photographed, and actually identified years later as being a White-chinned Petrel rather than a Sooty Shearwater as it was identified at the time. This Texas record has been contentious as the petrel is a real cold water species, and Texas waters do not offer it the habitat it prefers. Suggestions were made that it may have been a bird brought in on a ship from the south, or at least ship assisted. No one will ever know of course what the history of the Texas bird really was. But it sure is nice to find a White-chinned Petrel in cold California waters, side by side with species like the Pink-footed Shearwater which share its habitat in the Humboldt Current off Chile and Peru.

This was one of those amazing birding moments, when all came together and we connected with a great bird which just brought absolute happiness to our gang of birders. We marveled at the bird and reflected how when trying to explain to a non-birder what is so exciting about birding, how attempting to explain this particular exciting moment in our birding lives would be difficult. All of that ocean, so much of it, and one White-chinned Petrel happened to cross to the wrong hemisphere and we just happened to be where it was, the chances of that encounter boggle the mind. But it happened, and wonderful things of all types happen when birding. Aren’t we lucky we have this hobby?

I had to ask Alvaro:
Gunnar: Did you ever think that the area could be so good, did you have a hunch or was it a complete surprise to you?

Alvaro: I figured it would be good as it is good to the north and to the south, I just wondered how easy it would be to get to the shelf given weather and winds. Thus far it has not ben too bad.

Anyone wanting to do a pelagic from Half Moon Bay this weekend should contact Debra Shearwater. The Saturday trip is sold out, but there is still space on the Sunday departure.

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Wanted: Spoon-billed Sandpiper – ALIVE!

Spoon-billed Sandpiper. Photo: Nial Moores. Curlew Sandpiper in the background.

Spoon-billed Sandpiper. Photo: Nial Moores. Curlew Sandpiper in the background.

I am very excited over the new series of posts on 10000 birds. Charley Moores is presenting the Critically threatened Spoonbilled Sandpiper over 6 blog posts, with discussion and inteviews with conservationists and specialists. Here is the first delivery.

The prognosis is indeed dire to say the least. Charlie writes:

Listed in 2001 in the Threatened Birds of Asia: The BirdLife International Red Data Book as Vulnerable with a population optimistically estimated at between 2,000 and 2,800 pairs, there are now thought to be less than 300 pairs left, and – to quote BirdLife International – “action is now urgently required to prevent the extinction of this species”.

I am sure there will also be some hints where the species presently can be seen and what we all can do to try to stop the extinctionof this splendid most wanted bird by many birders who love shorebirds.

Spoon-billed Sandpiper Photo: Espen Lie Dahl

Spoon-billed Sandpiper. Photo: Espen Lie Dahl

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Twitter club for birders.

Twitter club for birders.

Tweet Club 7

We are back and this time the wait was not that long. only 11 days, which is not too bad. I will present a very consise Tweet Club this time….and then hopefully fill it with some more details during the week. This way it shall not be delayed and posted in time.

Results of last issue

  • @soaringfalcon1 https://bit.ly/ZyekK 180 clicks
  • @journowl https://bit.ly/3DrmtX. 159 clicks
  • @PatBumstead https://bit.ly/1Gow7y 132 clicks
  • @LadyWoodpecker https://bit.ly/12elpN. 126 clicks
  • @HooootOwl https://bit.ly/12Ofo5. 118 clicks
  • @irenapuella https://bit.ly/IMMXH 98 clicks
  • @Kolibrix https://bit.ly/vyq4H 88 clicks

Larry Jordan did it again. Once again number one! Want more clicks to your post? Study Larry Jordan. He is one of the most diligent blog readers and blog commenter I know …. and a frequent re-tweeter.

Participants this week.

That is it! Please submit for next week in the comment section,.

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Peruvian Thick-knee. Photo: Tor-Egil Høgsås. Thanks for use!

Peruvian Thick-knee. Photo: Tor-Egil Høgsås. Thanks for use!

The other day I went driving the Pacific Lima circle  road aka la Costanera. Next to the Repsol station there is a  open dirt area, which often has held a group of Peruvian Thickknees the last couple of weeks. This day was no exception, so I thought I’d show them to Luciana. In spite of still not using binoculares Luciana 2 years 9 months, has ammassed 43 species since the start earlier this year.  The thickknee she knows by the local onamatopoic name Huerequeque.

Here is the proof, that she saw it!!

Luciana birdwatching Thickknee IMG00193-20091019-1706

The site is a good one for anyone having to travel between the airport and Miraflores. It is the only gas-station on the Costanera.

Thanks to Tor-Egil Høgsås for use of his Peruvian Thickknee picture. Check out Tor Egils bird photo blog.

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Marvelous Spatuletail Loddigesia mirabilis

Marvelous Spatuletail. Photo: Alejandro Tello

Marvelous Spatuletail. Photo: Alejandro Tello

Currently male Marvellous Spatuletail can be seen at feeders at three sites.

  • Above Leimebamba Museum
  • Huembo interpretation center near Pomacochas.
  • The “Kolibri Reserve” owned and managed by Santos Montenegro (funded by Kolibri Expeditions).

For tours to the Marvelous Spatuletail check this page that summerize all birding tours to Northern Peru with Kolibri Expeditions.

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White-chinned Petrel in California.

White-chinned Petrel, Lima, Peru. Oct 22, 2006Only second record to the ABA area and the first record for California, the White-chinned Petrel Procellaria aequinoctialis is a Mega bird in North America, in spite being quite common as migrant bird in the Southern seas. In Peru it is seen regularly on our pelagics in spite that birds visiting us in Peru breed in New Zealand and sub-antartic islands.

The California bird was seen and photographed in Half Moon Bay, San Mateo off the continental shelf on Oct 18 a pelagic trip organized by Sequoia Audubon Society. Good birds have been showing in Half Moon Bay lately. Alvaro Jaramillo reported on a Short-tailed Albatross the other day – with a satellite transmitter on its back!! Amazing.

Here are two galleries to with pics of the Petrel.

Extraordinary pelagics in the area are now being planned. There should be a lot of birders in the US, that want this bird on their ABA lists.

Photo above taken in Peru 22 Oct 2006 by Gunnar Engblom

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This video is on my wall. I lost a Facebook Friend.

If you are still not on Facebook read this Facebook Tutorial first.

Last Sunday after burning midnight oil and already Monday 1 AM, and all prude should have been in bed a long time, I posted this link to a funny commercial on my Facebook profile. Result: I lost a follower, who wrote me and said it was disgusting, and consequently de-friended me. Not only that, she will use the competition when eventually coming to Peru birding. Facebook message Did I do wrong? Did she over-react? I think it comes down to how we use Facebook differently. I should not be surprised, because I have invited birders from all over to become Facebook friends with me. If you are a birder and we share some Facebook friends you may already have received a Facebook friend request from me. I believe that building a birder’s network on Facebook is generally a good thing. It could become like a giant Birdingpal network. A tremendous resource if you plan a birding trip somewhere. You get an insight what birders are up to, even if it is not exactly birding all the time, but I like that as well, because it makes each and everyone even more interesting. I have an open mind and I am not easily offended. I will speak my own mind on my Facebook profile, but I am usually careful to disclose if a link contains explicit language. The few self-inflicted rules I play try to play by are the following:

  • No explicit language from myself. I may link to explicit language (remember I like Punk and Hip-Hop) with a disclaimer.
  • No negative thoughts. Why bother friends with my sorrows?
  • No Facebook or Twitter when drunk! (Rarely nowadays, but it is a good rule I hope I remember if I get really pissed)
  • No compromising pictures of myself or others. (That is actually a general Facebook rule. You may get sued if you post something compromising.)

But still, there may be things that don’t match with all birders, so I am really not surprised to lose a Facebook friend by posting a sexist commercial on my wall. As I indicated in my Facebook mail to “Sawwhets’s New”, it may be better for some users, only to let your closest become Friends and connect with other birders through groups and fan-pages. This post is meant to guide you through the differences between Profile, Page and Group on Facebook.

Facebook Profile

This is the first step. You automatically get a profile when you open your Facebook account. This account SHOULD be in your own name. Profile is for individuals. Real people and with their real names. You are not allowed to use pseudonyms or your company names. (Watch out, Sawwhet! You may lose your account!!). Originally, Facebook meant this space to be completely private. That is, something you only share with those that you are close friends with. But with the expansion of Twitter, more and more people are quite lenient in whom they share “friendship” with. And Facebook does not seem to mind too much. You get suggestions by Facebook whom to connect with often indicated by how many friends you have in common. As mentioned above, many birders like myself have found it an extremely useful network builder connecting with other birders through Facebook. It is more engaging than groups and most pages (more on these topics below). Let’s take a look on some features in Profile.


Facebook Although, most Facebook users are navel gazers, looking only at their own wall, the most interesting feature of Facebook is the more Twitterlike Home News Feed where the stream of updates from your friends is showing. It is here you make discoveries – like a great link you may want to share with your other friends. It is here you interact with your friends – Make a comment! It is here you lay the foundation to become a great person on Facebook.  You don’t want to become one of the 12 most annoying types of facebookers, do you? (I am sure at times I have been perceived as all 12 of these at the same time…but one learns, right?…Still a “friend padder”, though. I admit!!)Facebook2

In my News Feed there are hardly any apps for quizzes, games, mafia wars, etc, because the moment I see them I hide the application (pass the cursor over the upper right corner of the annoying app feed to hide it). I simply don’t have time for those games. Feeds

But there is more cool stuff on Home. You can for instance group your Friends in lists and only get the feed from a particular list to show. See how I have made my lists here to the left. You may have a list for birders, one for family, one for close friends, one for past friends, one for people who share things you enjoy, etc. Click Friends in the bar to make your lists. When you have created all the lists you want, come back to the Home page and click More in the side column to visualize all lists. When all lists are visualized you can sort them as you wish (in the More mode) and put you favorite list on top. That way, next time you open your Facebook you shall find updates only of your favorite friends to start with. (Hint, hint Sawwhet!).

Also on Home in the right column, you find the suggestions of people to befriend. Make sure people you ask to become your friends really share your hobby. If you have many friends in common who happen to all be birders  it should be safe to ask to become firends. Also, always send an introductory message with the friend request. The maximum number of friends any one person is allowed to have is 5000, although you can only send a message to 20 friends per delivery.
Additionally on the Home page are highlight of links and photos shared by your friends, an events calendar and a list of upcoming birthdays.

Profile – it is all about me!

All your activity will show here. Anyone looking at your page will expect to see lots of stuff about you on the Profile Wall. But still, be somewhat careful. Be sure you share stuff that is not always about yourself. Share some videos, or music that you like, bird photographs, and links. The links can and should be your blogposts, but you will become a hero if you also share blog posts of blogging friends and other cool stuff that you find on the net that your friends will enjoy. If you are using the many apps of games and quizzes on Facebook they will also show here, and your friends that do not participate in the games can not opt out not seeing these when they come by for a visit. If these friends reacts as I do, when I see a page full of apps, they will leave quickly!


Anyone can start a group. I am sure you already belong to some groups. I have started three groups. Groups are communities centered around a subject that you have in common with many others

On these spaces members can upload pictures and links. In fact the photo galleries is the strongest feature. In spite of relatively high member numbers in these groups they lead a quite quiet existance. Very few comments, few discussions. I think one problem is that group activity does not show in the News Feed. If it did there would be more activity. There may be a way to activate this, but I still have not found it. Please advise if you know how.

UPDATE: Recently Facebook gave groups a new layout. The first group page is now more wall like and very inviting for leaving comments. Both discussion topics and Photos are posted on the wall as well as comments in general or links. This is great news and have kicked life into many dormant groups.

As a group owner I can send out direct facebook notifications to the group members. One of the most common reasons why people leave groups is abusive use of administrator mailings. As admin/group owner, don’t use this feature more than once or twice per month. People will be less annoyed. There is no limit in how many members a group can have. I am sure some people have thought that you could create a group called something like ” I bet I can find 1 000 000 people who want to save the rain forest”…and then send them all invitations to “help” an NGO that the same administrator runs. Well, you can’t, 5000 people is the maximum you can direct updates to. (Sorry spammers!!). Large organizations that aspire more than 5000 members should looks at Pages rather than groups (see below).

The strongest feature apart from photos (and the new wall) is the events calendar, which gives incentive to interaction. As group owner you can create an event that mobilize people to become more active in the group. Every member will receive the event invitation. More tips on how to reviving a dormant Facebook group can be found in the excellent summery 5 ways of reviving a fading Facebook group by Rebecca Leaman on John Haydon’s blog.

Facebook Pages.

Also known as Fan Pages. This is the place for your company, your pseudonym or personal name if you are a famous birder, singer, actress, hip-hop artist or just a big Social Media guru. You can only make a page with a brand you own or have the rights to use. The Page function is very much like the profile. You can make status updates and send links on the Page Wall, just as on your profile with these showing in the Newsfeed to your fans. This makes it easier for your fans to detect your activity and they will interact. Facebook pages can be a bit difficult to find, because they don’t show on your profile very prominently. There are advertsing options for companies and such efforts can be very powerful as the advertising on Facebook is very targeted. The cheapest way to get fans to your Page is to first get Facebook Friends to your profile and then invite them to the Fan Page of your brand, band or whatever. If your profile or group really is your brand, there are also possibilities to change them into a Page and take your friends with you. Contact Facebook from the help page. I post news about our trips on the Kolibri Expeditions – Birding Peru Page. Blogposts about Social Media and most family stuff go to my Facebook profile only and birding posts go to both the Fanpage and my profile. A good link about Profile, Pages and Groups on Facebook is provided by John Haydon. He also gives many other good links on the subject.

The most important one single feature of Facebook Pages is that they are open to view by all public (No need to be Facebook member to see it) and thus indexed by search engines.  Anyone caring about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for your main webpage and your brand, knows that this is extremely important.

End note.

Facebook, thus gives 3 different ways to interact. There should not be any problems to connect with people you don’t want to share your details with. You may get repetitive friend requests from people you share the same interest with whom you may want to be connected with regarding birds, but not share other stuff. From the above you have learnt that you can either accept and just adjust your privacy and list settings or delete the friend request and connect in groups or on pages.

Want to learn more? Sign up for the RSS stream of this blog, our biweekly newsletter (see sign-up box in the side column) and/or the groups and pages linked to above. And if you haven’t yet joined Facebook: What are you waiting for?

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