There are two thoroughly enjoyable events for bird watchers coming up in the next couple of months. You’ve probably heard of both of these, but I believe that they are fun and worth doing for all the right reasons. One of them requires a bit of travel. The other, you can do from the comfort of home, if that’s what you choose to do.

The Midwest Birding Symposium is happening in just about two weeks in beautiful Lakeside, Ohio. It’s a gathering of birders that’s as much social and about enriching your birding experience as it is about actually going birding. The bird watching is good along Lake Erie in fall, don’t get me wrong. But this event is about the community of people that share a love of birds. My company, Bird Watcher’s Digest, has been lucky enough to host the MBS three times previously, and each time we’ve tried to create an event that is friendly, engaging, and that sends attendees away wanting more.

Corey Finger, one of the giant brains (or maybe he’s the brawn) behind 10,000 Birds is coming to the 2011 MBS as one of our official bloggers. You can stop by and see him in the MBS Den of Blogniquity during the weekend of September 15-18, 2011. There’s still time to register (and to update your shots, if you plan to hang with Corey). Visit

Lest you think this is just me pushing an event we’re running (OK, it’s partly that) I want to add that there are dozens of really good reasons to attend the MBS. Perhaps none is more important that our conservation fundraising. The MBS donates money to worthwhile bird-related conservation organizations and causes. For MBS 2011, our co-host the Ohio Ornithological Society, has pledged to match the money raised through the MBS conservation raffle, up to $10,000. That’s something we’re all very proud of.

There’s another event coming ’round the bend in early October: The Big Sit! This one is free and open to anyone in the world. Simply pick a good birding spot, draw yourself a 17-foot diameter circle, plop down inside it for as much of Sunday, October 9, 2011 as you can handle, and POOF! you’re a Big Sitter!

BWD has been hosting The Big Sit, which was founded by The New Haven Bird Club, for a number of years. We just help make the data collection happen and help to promote the Big Sit concept. It’s free, non-competitive, and open to every single person in this universe or any other. On the second Sunday in October, I’ll be up in my birding tower in southeastern Ohio, hoping to break our all-time record of 70 species. When the birding gets slow, and it usually does late in the day, that’s when the birding chit-chat, the birding beverages, and the bad jokes make their appearance. Like the old commercial said: “Try it! You’ll LIKE it!”

Wishing you and yours a fun- and bird-filled fall.

Written by Bill
Bill Thompson, III is the editor of Bird Watcher’s Digest, the magazine founded by his parents more than 30 years ago, in 1978. He is the author of numerous books about birds and nature, including, most recently Feeding and Identifying Birds and The Young Birder’s Guide to Birds of Eastern North America, both part of the Peterson Field Guide Series from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing. Bill has led birding trips all across North America and has spoken or performed at more than 100 birding and nature festivals worldwide. He has watched birds in more than 25 countries and on five continents. He is also the blogger behind Bill of the Birds and hosts the birding podcast This Birding Life.