A while back, I wrote several guest posts for 10,000 Birds and Mike and Corey asked if I wanted a regular monthly space. After pondering whether I had enough time and ideas, I said yes.
Somehow, that was five years ago. Approximately 70 posts later, I’m still here, though it is an open question whether I had enough ideas. Nevertheless, five years seems a good time to reflect on the blogging experience.
I have confirmed my suspicion that regular writing is a great way to learn, and that topics often just present themselves. I often start with a question that piques my interest (frequently triggered by the news, social media, or other reading) and then I do some research. The answer sometimes result in a post.
For example, in reading about the re-introduction of the California Condor into the Pacific Northwest, the press releases referred to a “non-essential experimental” group of condors. I had no idea what that meant at the time, but it later became a post. The same thing happened with conservation banks and Waterfowl Production Areas (WPAs). I saw something about a survey of birders, so I read it and wrote about what I thought were the highlights.
Another observation is that researchers are generous with their time and respond to inquiries about their research, even by birding bloggers. I have done a couple of Q&A posts with authors of articles I have found interesting: “eBird Economics: How Much Would You Pay to See Birds?” and “eBird and Urban Planning: City Green Spaces.” These posts (and others) required reaching out to the authors or researchers with unsolicited emails, and every recipient responded. Bird researchers are good people!
I initially thought I would focus on the intersection of birding and the law and birding on federal public lands, and I have done lots of posts on those topics. For example, I wrote about litigation involving the California Condor, Barred and Spotted Owls, Golden-cheeked Warbler, California Gnatcatcher, and Greater Sage-Grouse, among others.
And I wrote several posts about the unsuccessful efforts of the Trump Administration to alter the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA). I also tried to explain the significance of federal administrative rulemaking, including as to the Federal Duck Stamp and the listing of endangered species such as the Black-capped Vireo and Hawaiian Goose.
I even wrote not one but two posts about birdfeeder patents.
These legal topics can be arcane and dry at their best, so I try to keep posts short and as interesting as I can make them. I suspect many pageviews are by birders who feel they ought to know a bit more about how the law impacts bird conservation, rather than their intrinsic interest of the topic. But I think that can be useful, as my impression is that many birders understand that the law is important, but do not have a good idea about how it all works. Hopefully, some of these posts provide just a little bit of insight.
I have also written about things I did not expect, such as whether to rename certain birds, an issue that I was essentially unaware of when I started in 2017. And I dipped a toe into academic ornithology, reading a journal article and (virtually) attending a conference.
Several birding trips resulted in posts, including Santa Ana NWR (Texas), Nisqually NWR (Washington), Hagerman NWR (Texas), Conboy Lake NWR (Washington), and Horicon NWR (Wisconsin).
My initial guest post was about National Wildlife Refuges, and I have posted many times about the refuge system, including eBirding, the Rainwater Basin, Comprehensive Conservation Plans, and the economic impact of birding on NWRs. 10,000 Birds has had varying perspectives on Duck Stamps, and I am firmly pro-stamp and wrote about the enormous impact of Duck Stamps on some of the best birding locations in America and how they work regardless of who is in the White House.
The devastating hurricanes in 2017 led me to write a post about the post-hurricane recovery of birds in Puerto Rico. And I have updated that post several times as new data became available. I also advocated for expanding the ABA Area to include Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
I have been interested in the role of the American Birding Association in the birding community, and I posted about that topic in 2019, and again several times in 2022. It will be interesting to see how a new Executive Director will position the ABA in the current birding environment.
I do not know for sure, but I suspect my post with the most pageviews is “How Many Birders are There, Really.” The post entitled “Top 25 National Wildlife Refuges for Birding” is likely second.
I don’t know that I have another 5 years in me, but it has been interesting so far, and Mike and Corey haven’t tossed me out yet.
They are always looking for guest authors, so contact them if you have an idea you’d like to write about.
It’s been five years already, Jason? Time flies. Keep writing… we’ll hit five more before you know it!