Hi! If you’re new to my blog, welcome and thank you for coming. You may have a few questions about some of the references, so this is an attempt to answer some of those questions like who the heck am I and why do I have a blog?
Keep in mind that this is a blog/nature journal and I have no editor. Everything here is a draft and work in progress. Will there be typos? ABSOLUTELY (that’s how you know I’m real and not some corporate hack). Seriously, some bloggers out there are ants and type up well thought out and edited prose days in advance and dole them out systematically (which is great, one of my favorite blogs operates that way). Others bloggers are grasshoppers who live by the seat of our pants and do five things at a time and blog in the middle of it. I do what I do when the urge strikes. Typos come with it–that’s the beauty of free content.
I’m someone who tries to avoid having a “real” job and get paid to go birding, a goal that I’ve been fairy successful achieving since 1997. In 2004, I was frustrated trying to get some of my work published or just sharing some of my birding adventures. There were few birding websites and I used the site as an opportunity to share some o the cool things I get to do like hawk trapping, hanging with peregrine researchers, go to places they may not normally get to see and dispell a glut of birding misinformaiton.
I was getting a tattoo and the guys at the parlor recognized me from my KARE 11 appearances as the Bird Lady. They said I needed a website and I had been looking for a new name since there are already several “bird ladies” out there. Also the term “bird lady” implied a specific type of woman–which I’m not, I’m no lady. So, Birdchick was born (also, people rarely pronounce or spell Stiteler correctly–it rhymes with “tighter” not “Hitler”).
I’m married to a man who I affectionately refer to as Non Birding Bill (or NBB) because early on it was clear that he’s not nearly as interested in birds as I am and it was a frequent source of consternation in our marriage. Periodically, he will guest blog for me here and he is a wonderful writer. Here’s a link to some of NBB’s work in my blog.
NBB (above left) is involved with the Twin Cities Theater Community (we even did a called Play On Birds) and you can see some of his work with Theatre Arlo. He and his working partner Matthew Foster try and produce the same shows the Guthrie Theater is producing, but on a $50 budget.
Frequently you will see a reference to a Mr. Neil (above right). Yes, it is that Neil. If you’re like me when I first met him and that link didn’t help you, he’s a very good writer and quite a bit of his work has been turned into movies. NBB adapted one of Mr. Neil’s short stories into a play and that’s how we met. I thought Mr. Neil had one of the best yards for birding and he foolishly told me, “You can come out here and watch birds anytime you want. You don’t need to call, just show up.”
And I did…a lot.
Sometimes we do bird banding projects in his yard and more recently Mr. Neil and I have become partners in a beekeeping operation much to the initial protests of his personal assistant Fabulous Lorraine and NBB. Now, we are one buzzing bee team and we are proud to say that our honey is so good, it wins the county fair blue ribbon. We do not sell our honey but give it to family and friends or donate small jars for auction for charities we support.
You might see some references to rabbits on my blog or maybe you’ve been here before and you notice a lack of rabbits. Here’s the deal. When NBB and I first created this website, we had a page of rabbit photos–our pet rabbits mostly with little captions about how they do not approve of humans. When the birding was slow, I blogged about what it’s like to live with rabbits–remarkably the popularity of the site grew–to the point where people insisted on more pages and began sending us photos of their rabbits. One day, we won the Internet Lottery and someone from Harper Collins asked if we would like to turn Disapproving Rabbits into a book. So the Disapproving Rabbits moved to their own site and NBB mostly runs that one. Sometimes I get a kick out of seeing Disapproving Rabbits as being part of the Internet lexicon and other times, I’m weirded out.
I have another book called City Birds/Country Birds about how to attract birds anywhere from an urban apartment to a rural yard. I started in the bird feeding industry and worked for a Twin Cities wild bird feeding company for about 8 years. I’m currently working on a third book about general birding due out in Spring 2013.
I used earn a living by doing several small jobs that equal into one big job: part-time National Park Ranger for the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area. My writing has been in several publications including WildBird Magazine, Birding Business and Outdoor News. And I traveled around to nature festivals and events and give workshops on digiscoping, attracting birds, a tech guide to birding, beekeeping or just some humorous short stories.
I currently have a full-time job with Westwood Professional Services as an Avian Field Ecologist meaning I help determine what risks a construction project could have for birds and how we can make it as safe as possible for them. It’s a lot of field work…and paperwork but it’s honor to have a job where I can be a voice for our birds.
You’ll see some sponsors or ads on my site. All of them are companies I actually love and use. Swarovski is a wonderful partner for my site. I’ve known about Swarovski for years and met Clay Taylor years ago at a birding convention. When I worked for Eagle Optics and people would ask what the best binoculars are, I would answer, “Swarovski!”
As my blog gained momentum and I was looking at the possibility of sponsors, Swarovski asked if we could partner up. One of the reasons I love them is that their optics are clear and for a shorty like me, they are light weight and easy to carry. Also, Swarovski funds quite a few conservation projects around the world. One being the sociable lapwing in Kazakhstan. They are a great company with great product and they give back to the birding community.
I just wanted to use this shot I got of a perplexed violacous trogon I got in Panama.
I hope this answers some of your questions. I’m also on YouTube, Twitter and we created a page on Facebook. I have a personal profile on Facebook but I only friend people I know really well because I mostly use it with my large family and quite frankly, I can be obnoxious when unfiltered on Facebook. I do have a lot of family on Facebook and early on when I friended anyone who friended me, some odd people I didn’t know started involving themselves on my family’s pages and so I decided that since I’m so public on Twitter and the blog, Facebook would be private. But, the fan page is a great way we can get to know each other, I check it daily (sometimes several times a day). Feel free to post interesting bird stories or even a photo of a bird that you would like to be identified.
I hope you enjoy what you see on my site. I cover all sorts of things like bird banding, edible fungus, bird festivals, caterpillar ranching or pretty much if it’s interesting to me, I’ll put it in the blog. From time to time I make it onto tv and radio in the Twin Cities and early on when this blog started, I took a news crew from NBC Nightly News out to see great gray owls.
Below is my original manifesto for my site. This was from 2004 and there were very few birding blogs out there and I was tired of an attitude I saw in a lot of hardcore birders towards newbies or casual birders. Now there are a ton of birding blogs out there and it’s not needed, but this is still the general spirit of my blog:
The Bird Chick Manifesto
Welcome to BirdChick.com!
I enjoy birding; freakishly so.
Many people do enjoy birding and some argue over how you should do it.
There’s no right or wrong way to do it, and as long as you aren’t wiping out a whole species by the way you enjoy birds, do what feels good to you.
If you enjoy listing and categorizing every bird you see—that’s terrific. If you like to peek out your window and see a cardinal at your feeder—that’s great. If you think that red-tailed hawk flying overhead is your spirit guide—more power to you.
Just get out there and watch the birds.