Its amazing how much goodwill you get from a little sharing.

I’ve written before about building an online ornithological community, but its taken me by surprise just how much some have embraced this. Many individuals and a few key organisations instinctively get what this is all about and, how together we can build a community of those interested in ornithology, bird conservation, birds and birding, stretching across the web.

Sharing is central to our community. We can share individual stories of what we’ve seen (our highest ranking retweet was itself a retweet of a picture of Australian Purple-crowned Fairy-wrens) and we can share the larger, broader stories on avian research, bird conservation, birds and birding. Here at @IBIS_journal we concentrate on avian science, trying to bring you details of as many avian research papers published from around the world and avian science stories from across the web.

Others focus on other aspects of our community. @_BTO are the masters of citizen science, mobilising British birders to scour the country in order to collect data which enable them to research and monitor the nation’s birds. No project encompasses this more than the new Bird Atlas 2007-2011, the recent launch of which was rightly celebrated by the ornithological Twitterati (#birdatlas).

Certainly in the UK, @_BTO presents a dynamic and popular face for avian science. Their citizen science remit allows them to engage with the wider birding community that other avian researchers and institutes aren’t able to do. Many universities have active avian research groups, providing the researchers and science for the scientific papers which make up many of @IBIS_journal’s tweets. The BOU’s own president, @JenGill3, is part of a vibrant bird research group at the University of East Anglia. The #RSPB ( @Natures_Voice ) also undertakes vital research and their conservation scientist, @drredshank, contributed to the BOU blog last month (What have conservation scientists ever done for birds?) – and the RSPB’s conservation science department was recently hailed as ‘outstanding’ by Professor John Lawton in his review of their work.

Other organisations and journals – @MMNBournemouth @CEHScienceNews @BioljLinnSoc @BirdLife_News @MigConnectivity @WilsonOrnithSoc @AvianBiology – to name just a few, are great contributors to our community, providing original stories and sharing those from others with their own followers. Many individuals too – @inkednaturlist @SteveOrmerod @grauwekiek @miguelmcminn @alanmcbride @kathrinasouth @jazzy_jeff44 @JERutter – again, just a few of the many, who give our community additional reach and depth with their own tweeting and retweeting.

@TheBirdBroswer is a new kid on the block and is a curator of bird stories, bringing together some of the more interesting avian new stories from the more popular website across the web.

Some individuals have a wider reach. @Grrlscientist and @mjpmccarthy give further credence to many bird news stories, and wider reach with their coverage of such stories in @Guardian and @Independent respectfully. Despite what some might think, we still need the more traditional forms of media to bring key stories from our community to the wider public.

We might not all have the same strength of voice but we do all have a voice on Twitter, if we choose to use it. Research into how people use Twitter has shown that most of us engage more with our personal friends and, usually, just a few trusted organisations, so even those with the smallest following are important in sharing our stories. So don’t just follow – share too.

A surprising aspect of our own community building has been the apparently eagerly awaited #FF tweets which culminate in our Tweetie-pies of the week and ‘fave’ tweet of the week awards. Followers are constantly asking me how they can scoop a Tweetie-pie accolade. Share, share and share is all I can say. I can only measure how people share @IBIS_journal tweets, so the more you retweet us the higher you climb up the weekly table and the nearer you get to being one of our Tweetie-pies!

Our fave tweet of the week comes from those we ourselves have reweeted. This is always a little hit and miss for in a busy week I retweet far fewer of your tweets than I would like (sorry!) – but others are out there to pick them up and share so they won’t be missed.

So finally, if you want to feel the #birdieluv and see our community grow even more, then retweet those stories you find interesting and share with your friends and followers.

More social media articles from the BOU’s Steve Dudley


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