Instead of a phone chain that occasionally breaks down, and takes considerable time to transmit information, text alerts use simultaneous delivery of text messages. If a birder finds a rare bird on Long Island, they can send a text message from a cell phone to LIRBA, and that message is distributed to all LIRBA subscribers immediately (you will receive a text message on your phone). Furthermore, there is currently** no cost for the service beyond standard text messaging rates (the price you already pay for text messages from your cellular provider). Unless birders magically start finding uber-rarities at a higher than normal pace, LIRBA will likely be used sporadically and so won’t clog up your cell phone’s inbox. This system is currently being used successfully in birding communities in Cape May (NJ), the Finger Lakes (Ithaca, NY), Pennsylvania, and several other regions in New Jersey.
**If any alert service gets more than 100 subscribers, textmarks will automatically upgrade it to a pay service, at which point donations will be asked for from users. Presumably, if any of these alerts get to that high of a user volume, it shouldn't be that difficult to raise enough money annually to sustain the service (it would be less than $5/year per person, on average).
Long Island Rare Bird Alert
Brooklyn & Queens Rare Birds