Frequently Asked Questions

An up-to-date version of this FAQ is always available here at This latest version of the FAQ is dated May 20, 2013.

Additional information about the email list can be found in the "Welcome" document.

WHAT IS BIRDERS? is a local/regional email list which reports and discusses bird sightings in Ann Arbor, Washtenaw County, and southeast Michigan. As of May 20, 2013, there were 1010 members of the list.

It's simple. Send an email message to

Birders has gotten busier as the list has grown. We average about 15 messages a day.

To subscribe to send an email to

and include "SUBSCRIBE BIRDERS Your Name" (without the quotes) in the subject line or as a one-line message. Here, 'Your Name' is optional.

You can also subscribe at

You can select your own preference for type of delivery of postings. Select Your Settings and then set Status to one of the following:

    mail: receive messages as they are contributed
    digest: not recommended -- see mimedigest and index
    mimedigest: one daily message with all the contributions for that day in MIME format (reduces HTML hash)
    index: one daily message with only the (clickable) subject lines for that day
    nomail: receive no mail from this list (used for temporary suspension of mail and by
            users who prefer to browse the archives)

    Example - To turn off your Birders mail for a while send a blank message with
    Subject line "set birders nomail" to To resume
    receiving mail do the same except use the command "set birders mail".

If you are away for a while and let your mailbox fill up (having not sent a "nomail" command to the listserver), you may find that even after emptying your mailbox you are not receiving Birders postings. The solution to this is to unsubscribe and then resubscribe.

If you are using a "digest" setting and the digests delivered to you contain a lot of HTML "hash," try using "mimedigest" instead.

You may unsubscribe from with an email having UNSUBSCRIBE BIRDERS in the subject line or in the body of the message. Send the email to

You must send your unsubscribe request from the same email address that you want to unsubscribe. If this is not possible, you will need to unsubscribe at the listserver web page. (See below: IS THERE A WEB SITE OR ARCHIVE ASSOCIATED WITH BIRDERS@UMICH.EDU?)

We suggest resigning temporarily or setting Status to nomail if you are going to be away for an extended period. This will prevent your mailbox from becoming full, and it will prevent bounces back to the listserver. Too many bounces to the listserver will cause your membership to be deleted automatically and you will then need to resubscribe.

Many of the members of Birders are faculty, staff or students of the University of Michigan but the membership includes birders all over the state and even some outside of Michigan. Anyone with an email address is welcome to join. The roster includes many beginning birders as well as some of the top birders in Michigan and the country.

Rule number 1 - There are NO "stupid" questions.

Most of the postings represent sightings that people have made in the area, but the list also includes a fair amount of "chat" about many aspects of birding and even some nature topics in general. A question about an interesting sighting that has you stumped is likely to be rewarded with responses giving the exact ID or at least several options to consider.

Postings about cats (vs. birds) are not allowed. This list, like most such lists, has had to suffer through "cat threads" in the past. They detract greatly from the main order of business--wild birds and birding.

Postings about killing birds are not allowed. We have at times had threads about killing non-native species of birds, such as House Sparrows, European Starlings, and Mute Swans. Discussions have gotten ugly. Most members of the Birders listserv list are bird lovers, and many have voiced their displeasure about such threads. If you want to discuss reasons or methods for killing invasive bird species, please go to an ecology or enviro listserv or forum.

Enviro-political postings - Postings regarding the environment, even if bird related, are nearly always political to a degree and are therefore problematic on a listserv list devoted to birding and wild birds. On a trial basis (1-19-2005) enviro-political postings will be allowed, but rules will apply:

1. Enviro-political postings are allowed, but onlist discussion should be limited. For now use your own judgment about what's too much and what's "limited."

2. Each such posting to the list must have ENVIRO at the beginning of the subject line.

3. ENVIRO postings to birders must be at least loosely bird/birding related. If you have non-bird related ecopolitical/environmental items to post, subscribe and post to

4. Most such postings should include a link, or links, to relevant news items, documentation, or other information. The greatest importance of ENVIRO postings will be the information they pass on, not opinions.

5. Keep discussions civil. Don't assume that anyone who disagrees with you must (necessarily) be an idiot.

Postings of a commercial nature must be pre-approved by Birders admin. Such postings must be related to birds or birding and be of interest to a significant portion of the Birders membership in the opinion of Birders admin. Further, such postings from any member of Birders should be limited to two per year. (Approval for all postings after an initial approval is tacit.)

Postings with political content - Your political opinions are not welcome at this list. Posting messages with political content will be considered grounds for dismissal from list membership.

FLAMES NOT TOLERATED! (derogatory comments against other list members)
Flames will not be tolerated on this list or in private emails to list members in regard to their postings. Flames in response to other flames are also unacceptable. Any problems with a list member should be taken up with them in private or with the list administrator. Violations of this flames policy will be dealt with by the list administrator via personal email, and repeated violations are grounds for dismissal from the list. If you feel the urge to voice a concern about improper use of the list, please send it to the list administrator at and do not post it to the entire list.

There are no hard rules. In general just write it up however you'd like. Postings about birds that have been seen and where they were seen are usually most readable, however, if the following guidelines are followed:

1) Whenever referring to a location that many birders on the list may be unfamiliar with, give at least the city, town, or county. (Also, you might want to include in your sig the city, town, or county where you live since this is where you probably do much of your birding.) If your sighting is of particular interest, you may want to give detailed directions.

2) When posting in paragraph format, it is helpful to put all references to bird species in UPPERCASE.

3) In migration reports and other lists, it is often desirable to list the species one per line, all together at the top or bottom of your report, rather than only within the text.

Spam, or junk email, is unsolicited email sent in mass mailings by people with a product to promote. (Another term used is UBE for Unsolicited Bulk Email.) What do we do about spam? Nothing! We don't get any! Spam is automatically rejected by the Lyris listserver because Birders is a nonmembers-may-not-post list. If the listserver does not recognize an incoming email as being from a member's address, it does not send it on to the list.

While we are not bothered by spam at Birders, it might be helpful to say a few words here about combatting spam since the volume of spam seems to be growing exponentially and is a burden to nearly all persons who have email.

If you do not use filters with whatever email program you use, your only option for dealing with junk email is to try to ignore it and become efficient in your use of the delete key.

If your email program does not have filtering capability, and even if it does, you can use the very good spam-blocking program for PCs called MailWasher, which you can download at (I have an old, free version. Contact me if interested.) This program is useful even if your email program has spam filters because it deletes emails without your first having to download them; i.e., it deletes junk emails on the server, needing only to download the message headers for testing against a set of filters that you provide. (Write me if you would like me to send you the large MailWasher "filters.txt" file that I have developed.) You can use MailWasher if you have POP3 email or use web-based emails programs AOL, Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo, etc.

There is a great deal of information about junk email, and email abuse in general, at the following web site:

You fear that subscribing will give the world access to your email address? I can't guarantee it, but I think that subscribing or posting will not help spammers get your address. 1) No one but admin has access to the subscribers list. (A spammer could subscribe and accumulate an email list of posters, message by message as received, but that's unlikely.) 2) There are only four archives as far as I know, and none of them show the poster's email address in standard form (i.e., The first archive is the listserver archive, which cannot be negotiated by a bot. The other three are listed below. They either do not show an email address at all or they substitute something like "name(AT)".;id=111

(These three archive sites are described briefly below in the IS THERE A WEB SITE OR ARCHIVE... section.)

Please DO NOT post warnings to about computer viruses. We all from time to time receive email warnings from friends about computer viruses. These are hoaxes 95 percent of the time--hoaxes that waste untold amounts of time and probably eventually reach nearly every email box in the world. If you have a concern about some new supposed virus that you've heard about, please check it out at one of the reputable web sites that have up-to-the-minute information about hoaxes and real viruses. Five good sites are

    University of Michigan Virus Busters

    Hoax Busters

    F-SECURE hoax warnings

    Snopes Urban Legends Reference Pages


In addition you can check the WildList Organization, Symantec, and, McAfee web sites:

If after checking your information you still have a concern about a possible virus, send a message to the list administrator at, not the entire Birders group.

Please DO NOT post information to about telephone scams, mail and email scams, chain letters, contests, etc.

If you are using Outlook, Internet Explorer, or Netscape to write email, please turn off HTML formatting, often called Rich-Text (RTF) or styled text. Many Birders members are not able to read such emails without saving them and then viewing with a web browser.

Please do not post any items that have attachments. Such posts will be blocked.

The entire list membership continually receives messages about administrative matters from persons who do not take the time to find out how to contact the list owner (administrator) directly. PLEASE learn how to contact the list owner. The information is HERE. When you send messages to about subscribing or unsubscribing or resubscribing or about missing or duplicate emails or other such matters, you are being inconsiderate of the 1000+ members of the list who are not involved with list administration.

You may contact the list administrator by sending an email to any of the following equivalent addresses

or you may write the list administrator directly: (Bruce Bowman)

Note, however, that you must SUBSCRIBE and UNSUBSCRIBE yourself. The list administrator will not do this for you unless you are unable to do it yourself. See instructions above in the HOW DO I JOIN? and HOW DO I RESIGN? sections.

Contact the list administrator if there is some list related problem that you think needs to be addressed. It might relate to delivery of list mail or some other failed function of the list. It might relate to content of posts to the list. Do not write to the list about the problem. The list administrator will do that if necessary.

If you have problems subscribing or unsubscribing or any other problems that relate to administrative matters, PLEASE do not bother the entire membership by writing to Instead, contact the list administrator directly as described in the above section, HOW TO CONTACT THE LIST ADMINISTRATOR.

Yes. You can subscribe, unsubscribe, and peruse the 365-day birders archives at You can also select your own preferences for type of delivery of postings, etc. The 365-day archive is searchable.

Additionally, there are three other web sites at which postings to the list are temporarily archived. None of these is searchable.;id=111

The first of these, Jack Siler's, is one of the archives maintained by tha ABA. The archive contains the most recent 1050 postings.

There is also a photo sharing web site associated with Any member can go there to upload bird photos or to view photos uploaded by other members. The photo sharing album is called Birders@UMich Photos. It may be accessed via this link:

If you want to upload to the photo sharing site, you will need to read online information about it.

Three Washtenaw County birders, Mike Kielb, John Swales, and Richard Wolinski, have written an excellent book titled The Birds of Washtenaw County, Michigan (1992). It was published by The University of Michigan Press and is available in most local book stores. Another excellent book about birds and birding in southeast Michigan is The Birds of Dearborn - An Annotated Checklist (2007).

For general information about birding in SE Michigan see the Southeast Michigan Birding site at For information about good birding sites in Washtenaw County and the rest of southeast Michigan and vicinity go to

Also be sure to see the Michigan Birding Home Page at Mary Wise's web site,

For directions to birding spots in SE Michigan and vicinity, check the Southeast Michigan Birding web site or go directly to directions. Another place to get detailed information about hot birding spots in the Ann Arbor area is the book The Birds of Washtenaw County, Michigan. For all of Michigan see A Birder's Guide to Michigan by Allen Chartier and Jerry Ziarno.

OTHER email GROUPS -- for rarities
To subscribe go to

SE_MI-Birdlist FAQ -- -- for rarities -- for chat
To subscribe to mich-listers go to Subscribe similarly to mich-chat.

mich-listers FAQ --
mich-chat FAQ --

We'll be happy to have you join us at See HOW DO I JOIN? above and sign up!

For additional information about see the "Welcome" document.

Bruce Bowman (

FAQ for

last modified: May 20, 2013