Musings on uncommon birds and media


After I submitted my report recently about the Vermilion Flycatcher I discovered in Brewster, it went viral– for factors unclear to me, this uncommon bird story grew wings. Starting here with the Weekly Bird Report, it next made the Cape Cod Times, then a number of Boston television news stations, then the Boston World. Ultimately it went nationwide when U.S.A. Today got the story, bringing news of our little lost Cape Cod bird to half-interested hotel visitors all over the nation. The bird has actually given that carried on, however it had a wild media flight throughout its stay.

Unlike the majority of the fascinating and/or really uncommon birds I cover here in this area, it appeared like every non-birding relative, associate, ex-girlfriend, previous cellmate, and college roomie’s uncle had actually become aware of the Vermilion Flycatcher of Brewster and let me understand about it. It got me thinking of why this specific bird ended up being such a media beloved. It wasn’t even the rarest bird on the Cape in the last couple of months– that honor goes to a Typical Redshank, an appealing Eurasian sandpiper never ever prior to seen on the East Coast, and among simply a couple of North American records. However since it remained in an off-limits part of Monomoy sanctuary in Chatham, that monumentally uncommon bird was concealed from birders for a number of months, including me, eliminating its possibilities at ending up being a media star.

Then there was the Cape Verde Shearwater photographed east of Chatham back in August– that bird originated from West Africa and was not simply a very first state record however likewise simply the 2nd record for all of The United States and Canada. However it was a needle in a haystack, a brown and white seabird amongst brown and white seabirds in a huge ocean, never ever to be seen once again and, therefore, never ever to reach media virality.

On the other hand, the Vermilion Flycatcher had all of it from the birder’s viewpoint– rarity, looks, and simple ease of access. Throughout its six-day stay, one might stroll a couple of actions from a parking area, install a little footbridge, and take pleasure in a front-row seat to the flycatcher program. This appealing little bird repeatedly went back to a perch perhaps 20 feet from the bridge and positioned for images.

Lazuli Bunting

The very best analog I can think about for this flycatcher was another little bird that got my image in the Boston World, a Lazuli Bunting that I determined under the feeders at Mass Audubon Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary back in February of 2012. That bird was a young male, like the Vermilion Flycatcher, and was likewise simply a 3rd or 4th state record. It began its media trip with the wonderful and unfortunately defunct Cape Cast, still findable on YouTube, then made the Boston media, and I slightly keep in mind that for some factor Rush Limbaugh really whined about it on his radio program. Somebody even developed a quite amusing Twitter profile for the bunting.

However no uncommon bird can beat the charm and media fame of the famous Red-footed Falcon of Martha’s Vineyard, discovered by the similarly famous Vern Laux and determined by ultra-rare bird king of the Cape and Islands, Jeremiah Trimble, back in 2004. That was a very first Western Hemisphere record of a beautiful and mystical bird of victim from Eastern Europe and Africa– birders were flying in from all over the nation to see it. In addition to protection in the New york city Times, I strongly remember it got Vern on a nationwide news broadcast as the NBC News individual of the week.

So after investing a number of extreme minutes evaluating the differing media success of these and other uncommon bird records, I created this practical PR guide for uncommon birds wishing to go viral: be at least a little vibrant; be incredibly uncommon; be an adorable, lost songbird, a huge heron, or an amazing bird of victim; hang out someplace public and rather available; posture for the video cameras, obviously; and many of all, sit tight for a while, so individuals from off-Cape can get a take a look at you. Being puzzling and furtive might assist you conceal from the predators, however you’ll never ever accomplish bird influencer status if you do not come out of the bushes.

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