BirdFellow Online Journal Turns One Year Old

A few days past the one year anniversary of this journal (first post on 19 December 2008) it is uplifting to look back at how far we've come. This is the 81st post and we've run pieces by eight different authors. We've published writings, commentary, and photo essays on a variety of birding topics in an effort to offer something that appeals to every visitor to our site.


Sometimes just getting outside and enjoying a spring morning is more than enough of a reason to go birding. This group birds near the mouth of the Sandy River just east of Portland, Oregon on 17 May 2008. Photo by Shawneen Finnegan.  

We realize that discussions of sapsucker ID and "runtism" in bird populations may not capture the attentions of those who are comparatively new to birding or those who are simply trying to figure out what species are coming to their backyard feeder. We also recognize that if you open the broadest umbrella over the birding community, most standing under it don't keep lists, cannot tell you where on a bird a tertial or a culmen might be found, and they don't own expensive binoculars or a spotting scope.  

On the opposite end of the spectrum, this site has attracted attention from some of the leading lights within the birding community. Authors of field guides, professional ornithologists, guides for bird tour companies, and others who make their livelihood from bird-related activities have dropped in to see what BirdFellow is all about. Thus far, the feedback from both camps has been quite positive.

A big part of what we've done and will do in the future is focused on building connections between those who know and those who want to know more. We hope to promote birding as recreation, as a hobby that brings a lifetime of enjoyment, and most importantly as a means to connect people with the natural world. Birds tell us much about the health of the environment. If we can get those around us to notice and take an interest in birds, preserving the environment that sustains us all becomes a less daunting task.

It has been really fun to explore who is coming to our site. By using Google's analytic software we are able to measure our daily traffic and where it comes from. Despite very little advertising, more than 11,000 unique visitors have  made more than 27,000 individual visits to our site over the past year. Further, we know that some of our most loyal visitors reside in Chagrin Falls, Ohio (248 visits) and Moses Lake, Washington (243 visits). 

Conversely, we've had just one visit from Tulelake, California, which along with Collinsville, Illinois claims to be the "Horseradish Capital of the World." I visit Tulelake every March as part of a birding trip I lead for a local community college. If you like white geese, a visit to Tule Lake NWR and nearby Lower Klamath NWR are a must. If you need some top quality Tulelake horseradish, "Jocks" grocery store in town is the place to go. Guess I'll have to leave some BirdFellow business cards at the checkout counter next March.

Barrow, Alaska has produced two visits over the past year. This person(s) represents our northernmost fan. Similarly, tiny Bainbridge, Indiana (pop. 743), which lies about 20 miles west of Indianapolis, has generated but two visits.

I know about Bainbridge for a couple of reasons. While living in neighboring Danville, Indiana from 1991-1994 I regularly birded Heritage Lake, which is just a few miles from Bainbridge. Every few years the lake is drawn down so lakeside residents can dredge out around their boat docks. During one such year I enjoyed a shore-birding bonanza that included a locally rare Buff-breasted Sandpiper. 

Bainbridge is also the hometown of Larry Steele, who was a member of the Portland Trailblazers 1977  NBA Championship team. I graduated from Cleveland High School in southeast Portland that year. On the day the Blazers won the championship David Fix and I were birding in the foothills just west of Portland all the while listening to Game Six on the radio of my parents' 1969 Rambler. I vividly remember jumping up and down screaming our heads off by the side of a dusty road as the home team salted away the only major professional championship for an Oregon based team, but I can't remember any of the birds we saw that day (I'm sure Fix can).


Harlow Bielefeldt at Skinner Butte in Eugene, Oregon on 3 May 2008. Photo by Diane Pettey.

Sadly, we haven't had any recent visits from Brookfield, Wisconsin. Longtime local birder Harlow Bielefeldt passed away on 18 September 2009 at the age of 77. I had the good fortune of meeting Harlow when he was in Eugene, Oregon to visit his son. I got to know Harlow through Diane Pettey who had met and befriended him during previous visits. In the earliest days of this journal, Harlow sent me several e-mails letting me know how much he was enjoying our postings. 

Not all of our traffic has come from North America. At last check, we've had visitors from 92 countries and territories. It is, perhaps, not surprising that Great Britain (186 visits) leads the way given the popularity of birding there. Australia has generated 101 visits, three-quarters of which have come from Brisbane. Brisbane is the home of my good friend Mat Gilfedder. A picture of Mat and his son Alex appears in our very first post ("A Tradition of Mentoring..."), which appeared on 19 December 2009.

Much is happening behind the scenes. To date, has consisted of this journal. While it has been exciting to reach out to the birding community with these writings, we have much bigger plans. We are currently getting our bird pages, species accounts, photo galleries, and other features finalized and coded. A talented and highly experienced web design team is working to build interactive content pages and features that should appeal to birders at all levels. As we move forward and launch these features we will count on feedback from this community and those who have yet to join us. With your help we will continue to refine our content, features, and ease of use. 

We extend our warmest holiday greetings to you and your families and encourage each of you to introduce a friend or family member to the joy of watching and learning about wild birds during the coming year.  


And, yep, Fix can remember…if only a singing Lazuli Bunting somewhere up in those Portland West Hills. I have forgotten that bird, lost among a galaxy of “Laz Bu’s” over the intervening 32 years, but I could never forget hearing radio announcer Bill Schonely shrieking into the microphone as Bobby Gross stripped Dr. J and the clock ran out—-nor could I ever forget the sight, minutes later, of all the drivers passing us with their index fingers jabbing skyward from rolled-down windows. Many thanks to Dave, Bjorn, contributors, and posters who’ve put so much thought and good feeling into this wonderful forum.


Nor can I forget Game 4 of that series, speaking basketball here. I slept overnight on the concrete slab porch of the Valley River Center of the Meier and Frank store in Eugene for the right to buy tickets to Game 4 after they clinched a spot in the NBA Finals by sweeping the Kareem Abdul Jabbar-led Los Angeles Lakers for the Western Conference Championship. I was 2nd in line and after a couple of hours it became apparent that it was going to be a riot scene, so I and the #1 person in line started a “list” so people could be assured of their place in line in case they had to go somewhere or relieve themselves. It restored order, the ticket sellers in M & F honored “the list”, and I purchased four tickets to the Game 4 Blowout! Those were the days! World B. Free declared that the Blazers couldn’t beat the Sixers in a 7-game series. He was correct. The Blazers did it in SIX!


Nice blog, bookmarked!


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