Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The Death of The Bird Blog


This gleeful horsetender used to dwell in the Birdosphere. In fact, that is the only reason I know her. Like many, she got sucked into the gravity well of a non-blogging black hole, where so many of my comrades have met their fate.

Ah, the bird blog. At one time, it was very popular to be a blogging birder...but like so-called patriots telling us to "never forget", those days are long behind us. Most bird blogs lie fallow, with no fresh material being added for years. My flock, once large and thriving in the Birdosphere, is dwindling rapidly...there are only a handful of bird blogs I look forward to checking now. We are going the way of the Dodo...or to be more contemporary, our population decline mirrors that of the Lesser Prairie-Chicken. Our fate is uncertain, but it is decidedly gloomy for now.

So what has lead to the decline of the bird blog? It's not difficult to figure out.


Sometimes, when I'm not feeling particularly creative, I can slap something like this into a post and all I can really think of saying is "This is a Double-crested Cormorant...I sure see a lot of these. Yup...Ok moving on now...". That is neither fun to read, nor is it fun to write.

Most bird blogs are really similar in content and format. The vast majority of bird blogs that have surfaced followed the tried and true "I-went-here-and-saw-these-birds" format, with little variation. I'm not the first one to point this out, nor is this the first time I've stated this here. Obviously there is nothing wrong with this format (I follow it constantly) but unless you can really make your posts interesting and not the same stale, recycled trip report over and over again, it can be hard to get much of a readership...and knowing people actually read your content is key to having the motivation to create more. This leads us to a plain and simple fact:

Most people are not good writers. There is a reason that not all people are writers...most people are not good at it. That includes birders. If you don't have the ability to write in a way that draws people in, that makes people want to come back for more, then your writing won't gain much traction. Sure some bloggers honestly don't care about accruing readers, but hella people do. Of course, another reason bird blogs were popular was because it was a good place to see bird porn, which leads us to...


I like this Magnificent Frigatebird photo. It's not the most amazing photo, but I think it's definitely likable. Good bird, good pose, sharp, good light, no editing done except the slightest bit of cropping. Not long ago you wouldn't see bird photos of equivalent quality plastered all over Facebook or embedded in every listserv post or eBird checklist; blogs were actually a good place to check out bird porn. Bird blogs no longer have the significance they once did for photographers.

Photographers. Everyone is a photographer now. More birders carry some kind of camera than those do not, at least that is my impression, and there are a great many photographers (who aren't really birders in the traditional sense) who specialize on birds. This was not the case 6 or 7 years ago. And not only are there more photographers now, everyone is also sharing their photos everywhere they can. It's easy to see tons of bird porn on Facebook without even trying. Ugh, remember the "seven day nature photo challenge"? Glad that's over...I wasn't in to the whole birdspam thing. You couldn't avoid seeing bird photos if you wanted to.


A spring male Rose-breasted Grosbeak is a true thing of beauty, the sort of bird that can turn someone into a birdwatcher (sorry Savannah Sparrow). Is there room on Facebook to do this bird (verbal) justice? Is someone really going to launch into a profound ode to Rose-breasted Grosbeaks in a podcast? If so, please tell me when that becomes available. 

Social media is not just for sharing photos of course, the anecdotes and stories that once were prime blog fodder now get posted elsewhere as well. Aside from Facebook, podcasts have also begun to take up space in what was formerly blog territory. Who doesn't love podcasts? That said, if you are going to do a birding podcast you have to put a lot more effort into that than a blog post, and you better be good at it if you are going to have an audience. I can only imagine that making a consistently entertaining podcast is a hell of a lot more difficult than slapping a string of decent blog posts together, so I am very skeptical that podcasts are really going to catch fire in the birding world considering the necessary talent and effort required...also, birders tend to be very conservative in their public displays of humor, and that is not a recipe for good podcastery.

Many bloggers quit out of sheer laziness. That's cool, laziness happens. I can be pretty slothful myself. Life can get in the way too; yup, some birders have those. This is all totally understandable.

So there you have it - the bird blogger population is dwindling rapidly, and it is no great mystery why. With that all said, BB&B is going to call it quits.

Nah. I lied. BB&B has no plans for throwing in the proverbial towel...what would all of our interns do? Maybe we are atavistic scum-nerds with shit for brains, but we will blog onward. There are stories to tell, birders to lampoon, photographs to post in between the realms of Facebook and Flickr. The Birdosphere is not a popular place to be anymore, and that's just fine by me...if you really care about what is popular, then you shouldn't be birding. However, I will soon be facing a hurdle in my blog output...I'm going to be a daddy in a few months. Isn't that fucking crazy??? Not that it should surprise you (have you read the title of this blog?). I won't use that as an excuse to bury BB&B though, you have my word. As I said, what would all of our interns do?  

33 comments:

  1. Thank goodness you were lying since I only found you a month ago. I've enjoyed your posts and the bird porn. Thank you for taking to the time to blog.

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    1. Thanks Laura! More porn (hard and soft) on the way.

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  2. I, for one, am glad to hear bird bloggers have self-instituted some sort of captive breeding program to ensure that our numbers do not continue to decline.

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    1. Gotta find some property with room for a flight cage...

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  3. I love 10,000 birds...get it every morning. and I love BB&B. those are it.

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  4. Now that I have picked my jaw back up off of my desk I am glad to see you are not quitting. I've been following you for some time now and always find your posts informative and quite funny at times. It is hard to blog for a long period of time and keep material fresh and I understand that.

    Congrats on becoming a daddy, teach the little one about birds from the get go!

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    1. Thanks Mia! Hopefully she will be as enamored with nature as I am, but I'm not holding my breath.

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  5. >phew< you had me going, I'll admit (mime of casting and reeling in)"Zing!"

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    1. Sorry for getting that hook stuck in your mouth teejay

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  6. Holy crap, I almost had a heart attack at the end of that second to last paragraph! You can never stop writing this blog, it is not only the best bird blog out there, it's one of the best blogs, period.

    And congratulations on the impending arrival! Finding time to write with kids around is not really a problem, however, finding time to bird can be. I'm sure you'll do fine!

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    1. Thanks Kristin! Making me bashful over here. It will be an interesting balancing act I'm sure.

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  7. Good luck keeping up output once the kid reaches school age. It's easy (relatively) while the kid is immobile. But once they reach kindergarten the exhaustion will set in and birding time will be tough to find, much less blogging...

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    1. Yeah I'm hoping I'll have a sick yard birding setup by then, heh. Well, as they say, birding is hard.

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  8. I got scared reading the second to last paragraph! This blog is so awesome, please keep blogging!

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    1. Thanks Patrick. This blog train won't stop rolling.

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  9. Blog onward or I might suffer intractable depression in the absence of your legendary wit. You do this thing SO WELL, like career, income-earning well...fly with it! The kid thing is NUTS and great all the same.

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  10. Jeez, yours is the only bird blog I read; I'm not even a birder. Glad you were just messing with us. Congrats on the offspring!

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    1. Thanks Sarah! I really didn't think anyone was going to take my quitting claim seriously...I could have had a lot more fun with it if so.

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  11. Gongratulations Steve! Babies are the shit. Mine is 8 months old right now and I have managed to take her out birding/hiking a few times recently. Obviously you can still do stuff, it just takes a lot of time to prepare and once you you are out they make the call when to go home. My yard is my new favorite birding destination. I love the blog, it's tough to keep going I'm sure. I've recently tried my hand at website building/blogging so perhaps when one dies another is born. Www.thesaltybird.com. If I can make it half as fun to read as your blog I will have succeeded. Thanks and keep up the good work. Enjoy being a family man.

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    1. Thanks Joel...I'm pining for a birdable yard, I think that will in the transition to fatherhood, but it might have to wait a while. Glad you joined in the birdbloggery! I want to see a frigate in Ventura so bad...

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  12. Ah - your last paragraph is gold! Congrats with fatherhood and also good luck! I only follow two blogs in these dark blogging days, and I must say yours is by far my favorite (with no offense to Amar's steady diet of Larus-porn). Keep up the good work #7.

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    1. Much appreciated Sean, not words I take lightly.

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  13. I was wondering why I felt a void in my life. I didn't even realize that Jen stopped blogging, but now that I think of it, it's been a while since I have seen an entry pop into my reading list. It doesn't seem right to just leave it hanging. There should be some kind of blog funeral. I guess your entry is a kind of a commemoration in some weird way.

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    1. I want FJ to have a blog funeral so bad, preferably in real life somehow.

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  14. Please keep painting your colorful caricatures of our strange and ugly subculture. Us birders are so narrowly focused and excited about minutiae, and therefore un-self-critical, and therefore bland and oblivious, that we really need you to continue calling out our bizarre hypocrisies and dualities and frankly just adding life into our frames of reference. That's why I read BBB. Usually after tumbling through a post I feel strange and ugly and oddly enthusiastic and totally human. Thank you for writing BBB.

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    1. Much obliged Chris. Glad to have a humanizing effect in this myopic, compulsive and absurd nerdverse we live in.

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  15. A hearty congratulations to you on starting your brood! You're not allowed to quit blogging though, now or ever. As you said, you're among a dwindling number of blogs left to make us feel guilty about not posting more often! Good luck with your new set of adventures

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    1. Thanks! BLOG TIL DEATH is the plan. Waiting on more France posts...

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  16. Congrats on the offspring. I'll toss back a few to that tonight.

    The cameratrapo'sphere has certainly faced the same dwindling output. We are certainly guilty of much lower output that in years passed. I keep telling myself I am going to start posting more often again but life ....

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    1. Good to hear from you JK. Ugh blogging in 2017 will be a major challenge.

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