Pennsylvania Rare Bird Alerts


Statewide Rare Bird Alerts

Regional Rare Bird Alerts

County Rare Bird Alerts and Chat Groups


Text messaging has replaced phone Rare Bird Alerts. There are two statewide (Discord and PARBA) and several regional ones (see below) and several county ones. They operate through apps called Discord, GroupMe, or WhatsApp.

These services enable you to send and receive text messages about rare bird sightings in PA. Once you join, all messages received from any member will be sent to you. Also, any message you send to this service will be distributed to all members of the group.

You do not need a Smartphone to use this service, but you do need texting capability.


Discord is an all-in-one statewide and local rare-bird-alert and chat-group app.

Once you join, you will be presented with a long list of ‟Channels‟ (groups), ranging from county-based to regional-based to statewide-based. Plus many topic-related channels (Migration, Weather, Bird-id-help, etc.)

You can turn on (or off) the notifications for each of these channels so you only receive alerts from those you are most interested in.

However, you still have access to ALL channels.

Discord is replacing all of the other chat groups. However, those other chat groups will remain active until the owners decode to discontinue them.


To join a GroupMe group, ask any current member and they can add you to the group.

Users can then receive alerts by text message, or within the GroupMe app which is free on iOS, Android, and Windows phones. If using the app, the user will have to create an account.

Once you have an account, you can also log into your account to use the app. The website version provides an interface much like the app and users can browse their lists and post messages from there too.

Once you are invited to join a group, you will receive a message either within the app (if you have it set up) or as a text message from a random phone number. The welcome message says something like “So-and-so has added you to WesternPA-RBA, please reply to join the group!” You must send a message back to the group within 24-48 hours, or you will be automatically removed. The message back can say anything so people usually reply with something simple like “stay” or “thanks for adding me”. If using the app, just reply right in the app. If receiving messages as texts, reply to the same phone number the welcome message came from. That phone number will be used both to send and receive messages and is specific to the user and the group… it cannot be shared with other users, and if you are subscribed to more than one group, each group will have a different number to interface with.

Note that you do not need to have a GroupMe account to participate (unless you are using the app. If you provide your cell number you can be added to the group using only that and you will send and receive all messages via text.


To join a WhatsApp group, download the app onto your phone, set up an account, then text the group administrator requesting to join. He/she will need your name and phone number. The administrator will then add you to the group.

Other Chat Groups

In addition to the Rare Bird Alerts, a number of counties have Birding Chat groups for reporting and discussing non-rare birds. The are included in the link above.