This Birding Life is a podcast from the folks at Bird Watcher's Digest. And like the magazine's content, the topics covered by This Birding Life range far and wide -- from the backyard to the tropics, from bird feeding to bird chasing, from authors reading from their books to birders talking about their "spark" bird. This Birding Life is guaranteed to make you think, laugh, and want to spend more time out there with the birds. It's all about this wonderful hobby we share: watching and enjoying wild birds. Welcome to This Birding Life! Look for our Podcast in the iTunes Music Store.
Grab the Kleenex: This is the final episode that TBL host Bill Thompson, III, recorded before succumbing to pancreatic cancer on March 25, 2019. Bill interviews Mark S. Garland, a naturalist who has been sharing his enthusiasm for nature for over 40 years. He is also the proud recipient of the Paul Bartsch Award for Distinguished Contributions to Natural History. Bird Watcher's Digest subscribers will recognize him as the author of "Birders Question Mark," a Q&A column that has featured in the magazine since 2015. Mark reveals what sparked his interest in nature and birds early in life, and how it evolved throughout his lifetime. He ends with advice for aspiring naturalists: Be persistent, follow your heart, and in the end, it will all work out!
In July and August, This Birding Life will feature two episodes that Bill Thompson, III, recorded before succumbing to pancreatic cancer on March 25, 2019. In this episode Bill interviews longtime friend Jeff Gordon, president of the American Birding Association, and his wife, Liz. Bill's guests discuss how they met, how their relationship evolved through their love of birds, the accomplishments that they value most in their work with the ABA, current trends in birding, and what the future holds for the hobby we all love.
As you may know, our beloved TBL host Bill Thompson, III, died on March 25, after a short battle with pancreatic cancer. What you may not know is that Bill's mother, Bird Watcher's Digest founding publisher Elsa Thompson, died in a fire in her home in Marietta, Ohio, on May 25. We know you share our grief in losing these two wonderful people who have contributed so much to the world of birding. In honor of BT3 and Elsa, we're re-airing this episode from 2013, when Bill interviewed Elsa about the early days of Bird Watcher's Digest, why the family started the magazine, and what it has meant in their lives.
Originally recorded in 2010, this episode of TBL features host Bill Thompson, III, interviewing Jonathan Meiberg, a birder and leader of the indie-rock band Shearwater. Both a musician and a bird watcher, Jonathan Meiberg sparked on music at an early age, but he did not catch the birding bug until his college years, while on a visit to the Falkland Islands. In this episode Bill and Jonathan discuss a range of topics including songwriting, bird behavior, life birds, and the vagaries of small travel guitars. Interspersed throughout the interview are short samples of Shearwater's music. This was one of Bill's favorite episodes!
In this popular episode from 2011, TBL host Bill Thompson, III, interviewed Greg Miller, an Ohio birder who served as inspiration for the character played by actor Jack Black in the feature film The Big Year. In this episode, Greg tells the story of his own birding life.
Bill interviews Ohio birding legend Jim McCormac about his lifelong fascination with nature, his career preserving special places and creatures in Ohio, and his many other accomplishments. Jim is the author of several books; he guides birding and photo tours; and he is one of the few people to see both a red-cockaded woodpecker and a Bachman's sparrow in Ohio! Listen to the banter of these two old friends.
TBL host Bill Thompson, III, will be away from the BWD home nest for a while. We hope soon to resume new episodes of the podcast we all know and love, but in the interim, we're taking a trip down memory lane and replaying some of the most popular episodes. In this episode from 2007, tropical birding expert Alvaro Jaramillo recounts a side trip to Rapa Nui (Easter Island), which became one of the best experiences of his birding life.
TBL host Bill Thompson, III, will be away from the BWD home nest for a while. We hope soon to resume new episodes of the podcast we all know and love, but in the interim, we're taking a trip down memory lane and replaying some of the most popular episodes. In this episode from December 2017, owl expert Scott Weidensaul joins Bill for a discussion of the winter's invasion of snowy owls from the Arctic. Through Project SNOWstorm (co-founded by Scott), a volunteer field research program studying these magnificent, mostly white owls, we are learning a great deal about their behavior, population dynamics, natural history, and how they interact with us humans, and vice versa. Scott also shares his tips for watching a snowy owl respectfully, without disturbing it.
Melissa Groo joins Bill to talk about her life and the late start she got to her amazing career as a “wildlife biographer.” Though she is most famous for her captivating bird and wildlife photographs, Melissa strives to convey more than that, capturing the personality, soul, and essence of her subjects in hopes of inspiring empathy from humankind for the plight of the natural world.
During a recent trip to South America, Bill collected stories from six of his fellow travelers and shares them here. Included are stories about Juan the Guan, a treacherous journey to Noir Island, a bear story, and three stories about how birds can change the course of our lives.
Join host Bill Thompson, III, on his recent birding tour of renowned hotspot Cape May, New Jersey, where he interviews Tom Reed, Mark Garland, and Dr. David LaPuma, expert migration counters from the Cape May Bird Observatory. Along the way he visits the Avalon Seawatch, the Cape May Point Hawk Watch, and South Cape May Meadows talking about migrating seabirds, raptors, songbirds, and monarch butterflies.
Author JR Ripley chats with Bill about his recent birder-murder mystery novel A Birder's Guide to Murder, set at the American Birding Expo. The book is part of the Bird Lover's Mystery series published by Kensington, in which the heroine, Amy, solves murders, while simultaneously running her specialty retail birding store. JR, whose real name is Glenn Eric Meganck, also writes novels in other genres under other pen names, is a professional musician, and is kinda into zombies, too.
Tom Stephenson is the creator of BirdGenie, an app that recognizes bird songs recorded on your cellphone. Bill interviews Tom about his fascination with sound and sound technology, the cross-over between musicians and birders, and how the BirdGenie app came to be. This interview was conducted outdoors during the New River Birding Festival in West Virginia in May 2018.
In part 2 of Birding in Columbia, TBL host Bill Thompson, III, travels to the Caribbean lowlands near Camarones to visit additional sites along the Northern Colombia Birding Trail. We hear from three different Colombian guides as well as three of Bill's travel companions about the wonders (and challenges) of birding in Colombia. The origin of the vermilion cardinal's colorful plumage is explained by the mythology of the Wayuu People. And we hear the full and tragic birding origin story from guide Angel "Neke" Ortiz Menenses.
In Part 1 of Birding in Colombia, Bill joins a group of avid birders in the Santa Marta region of northern Colombia to explore the Northern Colombia Birding Trail. Besides amazing birding and lots of endemics, he encounters a new generation of excellent local birding guides poised to accommodate an influx of ecotourists to this newly opened birding destination.
During his recent trip to Honduras, TBL host Bill Thompson, III, interviewed naturalist, photographer, and birding guide Erik Bruhnke. Their conversation covers Erik's start as a birder, his favorite birding spots, his love of lifers and beer, his hatred of mylar balloons, his Zen of Birding philosophy, and his favorite “swear” words.
Host Bill Thompson, III, interviews Elisa, Cayenne, BJ, and Ryan, founding members of the California Young Birders Club. These young adults share their birding origin stories, discuss what it's like to be a birder among their peers, the advantages of technology, and their plans for the future.
Host Bill Thompson, III, interviews James Adams, co-manager of the Lodge and Spa at Pico Bonito in Honduras, about the recent news that the lodge's owners plan to close it down. Pico Bonito is one of the finest ecolodges in the Americas--if not the world--so there are many people who are hoping the lodge can re-open under new ownership.
Host Bill Thompson, III, talks with Stephen Ingraham, author of "Point and Shoot Nature Photography," about the explosive popularity of small, super-zoom cameras. Steve has decades of experience as a photographer and has fully embraced today's digital technology. His self-published book is a how-to guide for those who want to take high quality bird and nature images without the daunting cost of a full-sized digital SLR camera.
Bill talks with Noah Strycker, self-described birdman and adventurer, who was the first person ever to see more than 6,000 bird species in a single, worldwide birding Big Year. Noah is the author of “Birding Without Borders,” which recounts his 2015 World Big Year.
Owl expert Scott Weidensaul joins Bill for a discussion of this winter's invasion of snowy owls from the Arctic. Through Project SNOWstorm (co-founded by Scott), a volunteer field research program studying these magnificent, mostly white owls, we are learning a great deal about their behavior, population dynamics, natural history, and how they interact with us humans, and vice versa. Scott also shares his tips for watching a snowy owl respectfully, without disturbing it.
Bill's recent birding trip to Taiwan is the subject of this episode. Taiwan is an island off the coast of China, with a large number of endemic and near-endemic bird species. While it is a modern country, heavily influenced by mainland China and Japan, much of Taiwan is wild, heavily forested, with large, protected areas set aside for birds and wildlife. In addition, the culture of Taiwan is quite bird-centric, and its people are fascinated by their country's bird life. In this episode, Bill interviews his fellow travelers and their Taiwanese birding guide, Chuck, about all facets of Taiwan, including the people, food, culture, weather, and birds of this island country in East Asia. Bill also got to take lots of photos of various statues, signs, and giant things of Taiwan, which he shares at the end of the podcast.
Host Bill Thompson, III, recently traveled to Taiwan. Four of his travel companions tell fascinating stories about their birding adventures from around the world. Ranging from light-hearted to downright life-threatening, these tales are worth a listen. Topics include: discovering a new bird species, schmoozing your way to an exit-row airline seat, getting rescued in the desert, and avoiding capture by the guerillas when birding.
Bill chats with ABA President Jeff Gordon about his start as a birder, new and young birder outreach, ghillie suits, The Big Year movie, swirlies, Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook communities, the search for the ivory-billed woodpecker, and the early days of the modern birding era.
Bill interviews artist Catherine Hamilton about her evolution as a bird artist, what inspires her art, her favorite subject matter, her field sketching abilities, and her dedication to supporting bird conservation projects.
Bill chats with actor/birder Ian Harding, star of the television show “Pretty Little Liars,” about his new book “Odd Birds.” In the book, Ian writes about everything from Hollywood stardom and chasing the rare California condor to the allure of Juliette Binoche. This Hollywood teen idol is not only a true birder, he's also wonderfully down-to-earth. Episode 70 also features Ian reading from “Odd Birds.”
Bill chats with the organizers of three successful--and very different--annual birding festivals in the U.S.: the Acadia Birding Festival in Maine, the New River Birding & Nature Festival in West Virginia, and the San Diego Bird Festival in California. Learn what's special about each festival and why birders choose to attend them.
Bill enjoys a wide-ranging interview with Jan Pierson, one of the founders of Field Guides Birding Tours. Topics range from Jan's late and unexpected start as a birder to the collaborative ownership of Field Guides to favorite birding destinations and fantasy birding companions--and a lot more.
Host Bill Thompson, III, interviews ornithologist Peter Marra, co-author of the book “Cat Wars: The Deadly Consequences of a Cuddly Killer.” The book examines the conservation, environmental, social, and health impacts of the pet and feral cats--unnatural predators--that kill a billion wild birds annually in the United States.
Host Bill Thompson, III, recounts last year’s Champions of the Flyway bird race in Israel where his team, the Way-Off Coursers, raised more than $12K for conservation. The event as a whole raised more than $67K to protect birds along the great Rift Valley flyway between Eurasia and Africa. Also featured is the anthem Bill wrote to support Champions of the Flyway.
Host Bill Thompson, III, talks to participants in the 2016 Honduras Birding for Conservation Tour which raised more than $50,000 for conservation projects. His team, the Velveteen Cotingas, finished last in the bird list competition but first in the fun category.
Host Bill Thompson, III, interviews Adam Riley and Keith Valentine of Rockjumper Birding Tours. His guests talk about birding tourism, unknown destinations, doing well by doing good, and share their harrowing birding adventures.
Join host Bill Thompson, III, on a visit to the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology in Ithaca, NY and learn more about the Lab’s citizen science projects, bird conservation research, young birders outreach, and rich history of bird study.
Host Bill Thompson, III, takes us along on a week of birding in southern Portugal. This European country is a world famous destination for wine, seafood, history, culture, and now, birding! Portugal’s leading birder, Joao Jara, tells us all about his native land.
TBL host Bill Thompson, III, shares some of the interesting stories he’s gathered in his birding travels: strange animal behavior, mistaken identity, acts of kindness, moments of discovery, spark birds, and memorable passages of life.
TBL host Bill Thompson, III, takes us along on the second part of his journey through Uganda, birding, trekking for chimpanzees and mountain gorillas, seeing lions, and encountering some of Uganda’s future birding guides. He even gets invited for an audience with an ambassador!
Host Bill Thompson, III, interviews Eagle Optics sales manager Ben Lizdas about the optics buying process, the questions customers ask about binoculars, how much to spend, choosing the right power, and much more.