Welcome to the first anniversary edition of I and the Bird! What a magnificent year this has been. Nearly 150 bloggers from across North America, Europe, Australia, and Asia have come together on a biweekly basis to present the very best in wild bird web writing. As a group, we have observed thousands of birds (of course, Charlie accounts for about half of them!) from every continent and shared our insights, inspiration, and images with each other and the rest of our expanding community.

Ladies and gentlemen, the State of I and the Bird is strong.

To celebrate our collective triumph, I asked all past participants to consider answering one or more of the following deceptively simple questions: Why do you bird, why do you blog, and/or why do you blog about birds? The thirty-three responses I’ve received, you’ll see, are anything but simple. But I’m not going to answer any of these questions myself. Over time, I’ve offered up a number of my reasons to become a birdwatcher and also indulged my fair share of metabloggery. I’d rather use this opportunity to answer a question that nobody else, to my knowledge, can:

Why did you start a birding blog carnival?

My answer here might explain where the idea of a theme anniversary edition came about in the first place. Chalk it all up to self-interest. Basically, I’m a huge fan of our nascent niche. The twin drivers for the establishment of I and the Bird were to perpetuate and consolidate exceptional bird blogging. The reasoning behind this may require further explanation.Anyone with even a marginal interest in science knows how successful PZ Myers‘ tremendous Tangled Bank has been in advancing interest in blogs addressing a broad spectrum of disciplines. I’ve been involved in Tangled Bank since its inception and, through it, learned how effective a carnival could be in connecting a site with both more readers and other like-minded bloggers. Established as a carnival of science, evolution, medicine, and natural history, Tangled Bank offers a mighty big tent. My bird blogging posts might have been off to the side of the center ring, but I wasn’t alone. That carnival attracted lots of nature writers.

Someone one said that happiness makes up in height what it lacks in length. I suspect that principle applies to many other emotions, including enthusiasm for blogging. This is a tough business, particularly because it’s not a business at all. Very few people are making decent money off the sweat of their brows here in the blogosphere, but lots of bloggers will tell you how heavily they’re sweating. Productive, effective, consistent writing on any topic is demanding work. So what’s the payoff? Where is the inducement to stay at it when other demands loom large? I think most bloggers feel rewarded by recognition and connection. More readers satisfy the former while the respect of our peers, hopefully manifested in the form of links, provides for the latter. So, it stood to reason that if I wanted to see my favorite bloggers continue to offer up top notch content for free while encouraging others to get in the game and do the same, I had to do my part to deliver readers and links. That, my friends, is what a carnival does. A rotating carnival like ours acts like a lens to gather readers from many sites and focus their attention with laser intensity on the host blog, which should then relay those readers on to contributing blogs. Once it was clear that the critical mass of both readers and writers needed to sustain a birding blog carnival existed, I and the Bird was born.

So, if you write well about natural history with at least an occasional emphasis on avifauna, chances are I read your site often. I can truly say that, whether they know it or not, most of I and the Bird‘s frequent participants can count me among their biggest fans. You can consider the fact that I’ve used this forum to ask my colleagues the kinds of questions their readers and peers would love to hear answered just another act of self-interest. I really wanted to know the answers too.

But enough about me. This isn’t about me and never has been. This is about something we all share, about birding and blogging and the sweet spot where the two intersect. The following links, submitted by many of the best nature blogs in the world bar none, will amaze and inspire you. Whether you are a birder, a blogger, or someone standing on the precipice of either or both activities, I guarantee you (something I hardly ever do) that you will learn something about yourself as you explore these posts. Just take my advice and read every single one:

Why I watch birds:

A DC Birding Blog
Aimophila Adventures
Ben Cruachan Blog
Bird-brained Stories
Coyote Mercury
Journey Through Grace
Science and Sarcasm
Stokes Birding Blog
Time’s Fool
The Birdchaser
The House & other Arctic Musings
Thomasburg Walks

Why I blog:

Charlie’s Bird Blog

Why I blog about birds:

Bird Ecology Study Group
Bird Watchers Notebook
Bootstrap Analysis
Dharma Bums
The Birdchaser

Why I watch birds and blog about them:

A DC Birding Blog
Alis Volat Propiis
Bird TLC
Burning Silo
Earth, Wind, and Water
Living the Scientific Life
Rigor Vitae
Rob’s Idaho Perspective
The Hawk Owl’s Nest
Tortoise Trail
Wild Bird on the Fly

Did you read every one? Amazing, no?

Have you been moved to watch birds and start a blog so you can write about bird watching? Welcome to the neighborhood! We will now dispense with special theme editions for the time being and get back to our primary function of delivering the best wild bird blogging on the web, as selected by the writers themselves. Let’s get our next year of collaborative, synergistic blogging brilliance started right by turning IATB #28 over Katie of Bogbumper. Katie’s edition is scheduled for Thursday, July 20 so get those links to me or her by July 18!

Also, be advised if you haven’t hosted yet that we’ve got a few summer slots still open. In the words of the immortal James Brown, “Get up, get into it, get involved…huh!”

Written by Mike
Mike is a leading authority in the field of standardized test preparation, but he's also a traveler who fully expects to see every bird in the world. Besides founding 10,000 Birds in 2003, Mike has also created a number of other entertaining but now extirpated nature blog resources, particularly the Nature Blog Network and I and the Bird.