The Big Why

This post is for I and the Bird. Mike Bergin, the founder of I and the Bird has asked past participants to answer three questions. Here are the short answers.

Why do I blog?

Because Non Birding Bill said I needed it for my website.

Why do I bird?

It's the way I'm wired. I couldn't do anything else if I tried, and believe me I did try.

Why do I blog about birds?

Combine the two answers above.

The story behind the blog:

A few years ago, I tried a desperate bid to get free binoculars. WildBird Magazine has monthly contests where they will ask a question and you have to send in an answer within so many words. The winner gets a free pair of binoculars. I saw the question, "How do you show your birdiness?" and knew I had a winner--my first tattoo. I wrote about how my tattoo was a great conversation starter and helped link me with a younger crowd and didn't make me look like a stereotypical birder. I had been thinking of getting a second tattoo and at the end of my entry I suggested that I might ask Paul Johnsgard or Kenn Kaufman to design my next one.

When the magazine came out I didn't get picked as the winner (I was totally robbed--my answer was way better than the actual winner's) but within a week I got emails from both Johnsgard and Kaufman asking what kind of bird, what size and location of probable tattoo. So, in a sense I guess I did win. I ended up going with the Johnsgard design (pictured above)...largely because Kaufman never actually sent a design (yo, Kenn, it's not too late, I still have real estate available).

I went to Uptown Tattoo to get my new tat. While there, I took along one of my favorite Johnsgard books Arena Birds. I wanted to get a photo of me reading it while artist Tom (that's him behind me in the above photo) applied that tat. As my photo was being taken, some of the staff recognized me. "Hey, you're the bird lady on tv! You tell me to feed safflower to get rid of grackles and feed jelly to orioles!"

I was impressed. This was the last place I ever expected to get recognized and not only that, they actually remembered my advice. They asked why I didn't have a website and suggested that I should have one. Non Birding Bill and I had kicked around the idea of starting a website called because the moniker of "bird lady" got me confused with other bird ladies--plus, "bird lady" also reminded me of "the chicken lady" from Kids in the Hall. That night, we registered

As NBB was helping me set up the site and template he told me that I really needed to have a blog. I balked, I had tried a blog before and I just couldn't keep it up, I didn't think this time would be any different. He pressed, went ahead and registered the birdchick blog and then even went the extra step to make Blogger my home page. How could I resist? It's weird starting a blog as you struggle to find your voice and what you want to talk about. Now I think I finally have a groove. I do struggle with not outing people. Just because I'm an exhibitionist and enjoy posting embarrassing photos of myself for the world to read, doesn't always mean my companions do. I still struggle with how much personal information about myself to include, do people really want to read about non-birding stuff in my life? I just try to ask, "Would I find this interesting?" If that answer is "yes" then it goes in.

I've never been a journal or diary keeper but for some reason blogging works for me. I enjoy keeping it as a scrapbook of where life has led me the past few years and quite frankly, many opportunities that have come my way in the last year have been a direct result of the blog. I didn't start it as a job, but it has helped land me a pretty sweet one. If the blog was a job, I doubt I would update it as regularly as I do.

Thanks to the blog, I've...

...known the glamour of hangin' out with nesting cormorants.

...had young pelicans try to brood between my legs.

... been able to touch and smell one of the coolest birds on the planet--northern goshawk.

...found myself alone enjoying the Utah desert.

...been snowed in.

...seen the rich brown eye of a Harris's sparrow.

...discovered that young great egret skin is green.

My family mostly lives in Indiana. When I started, I thought at the very least the blog would be a great way for them to keep up with what I'm doing, especially if I'm traveling and they can't get hold of me. Ironically, they rarely read it. I do try to avoid being a snob about it. I remember once meeting a writer and we were all talking about our favorite birds. The writer announced, "Well, we know what my favorite bird is!" We looked at the writer quizzically and they said, "Ugh, didn't you read my article!?" My big fear is that I will turn into that. Someone will ask me a question and I'll say, "Ugh, didn't you read my blog?" If that does happen, I hope someone has the good sense to say, "Oh, get over yourself!"

If people enjoy the blog, that's fantastic, I'm glad what I do interests them. If they don't that's fine, my style of birding certainly isn't for everybody--especially my disapproving rabbit (above). And as hard as it is for me to believe, I'm sure there's a small segment of the population that wouldn't care to read about birds all the time. That's crazy talk I know, but NBB assures me that it's true.