Out There With the Birds

By Bird Watcher's Digest

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Join Bill Thompson, III, and Ben Lizdas from Bird Watcher’s Digest for their light-hearted and humorous podcast, Out There With the Birds, where they discuss the latest news, trends, and anecdotes about wild birds and the bird watchers who enjoy them. Listen in to find out just how wonderful and weird the world of birding can be when you’re Out There With the Birds.

Episode Date
Episode 42: Tips for Enhanced Birding Enjoyment
Ben and Bill share a baker's dozen tips for enhancing your birding enjoyment, including where and when to go, what to wear, eat, carry, think, hear, and do, and lots more. If you're willing to take advice from these two guys, then you deserve all the joy that birding can bring you. They also extend an invitation to listeners to join them on a birding safari to South Africa.
Sep 10, 2018
Episode 41: Live from the 2018 British Birdwatching Fair
The likely lads are on the loose at the world-famous British Birdwatching Fair, where they're seeing old friends, quaffing a few pints, promoting the American Birding Expo, Bird Watcher's Digest, and helping to translate between American English and English English. They talk about the beauty and conservation of vultures and flamingos, new birds they've added to the Global Big Year Challenge™, and the long shadow cast by the BBC TV show from the 1950s "Bill and Ben: The Flowerpot Men." All this is discussed while sitting in a giant beer tent in the middle of a sheep pasture. Please note: This was BEFORE they had a beer.
Aug 28, 2018
Episode 40: Summer Fun & Games
Summer activities--both recent and upcoming--are the focus of this episode's discussion between Bill and Ben. They brag about their super-smart daughters and wonder how the apples could fall so far from the tree. They chat about Ben's upcoming canoe trip, the new issue of BWD, upcoming Reader Rendezvous, and about Bill's recent (amazing) baseball catch on national TV. Bill shares a music recommendation: American treasure John Prine.
Aug 13, 2018
Episode 39: Live From Outdoor Retailer
Ben and Bill take a break during the Outdoor Retailer show in Denver, Colorado to talk about the products, trends, and environmental awareness they found at this major event for retail stores. Like Johnny Appleseed, they planted the seeds of birding awareness among the many cool folks and companies they encountered. And there was free beer. Birding tip: It's time to look for southbound shorebirds, swallows, martins, and nighthawks.
Jul 31, 2018
Episode 38: The Stoke is High!
The stoke is high for Ben and Bill's upcoming trips to Man Camp (People Camp) in West Virginia and to Colorado for the Outdoor Retailer Show. In this episode, their Zugunruhe has them all over the place topicwise, including fledglings at feeders, higher hummer numbers, famous Birding Expo keynote speakers, the new Duck Stamp, and the demise of the Porro prism binocular (according to the LeBron James of Birding Optics). Bill's music recommendation is TroubleFunk, out of Washington DC.
Jul 17, 2018
Episode 37: Go West, Old Men!
Recorded live in three parts during the recent Bird Watcher's Digest Reader Rendezvous trip to northern Colorado, this episode features lots of voices. Bill and Ben welcome special guest Clay Taylor of Swarovski Optik to talk about birding optics and his most recent life bird. BWD's own Emily Jones joins in as do many of the Rendezvous participants, to talk about favorite birds, life birds, good food, Pawnee Grasslands, and the ever-majestic Rocky Mountain National Park. Oh, and, in case you didn't know, the "p" in ptarmigan is silent.
Jun 29, 2018
Episode 36: Seek and Ye Shall Find (Or Maybe Not)
The gents talk via Skype about their personal fitness regimens, post-spring bird action, appreciating nesting birds, a booby in Maine, jinx birds for 2018, the upcoming Colorado Reader Rendezvous, legalized marijuana and the implications for bird feeding, birds you cannot find by seeking them, their first-ever trip to the Outdoor Retailer Show, and whether or not high-end optics are worth it. Oh, and Ben finally saw a peregrine falcon, but Bill still needs a great horned owl for the OTWTB Global Big Year Challenge™.
Jun 15, 2018
Episode 35: From Alaska to Maine and Everything in Between
Ben is back from Alaska and is headed to Maine for birding festivals. The guys chat about their upcoming travels, the advantages of spotting scopes and when to carry them, carbon-fiber tripods, missed birds and bonus birds, and the joy of having kids smarter than they are. They reveal their species totals in the OTWTB Global Big Year Challenge™. Spoiler alert: One of them is WAY ahead.
May 24, 2018
Episode 34: Live at New River, Spring 2018
Recorded outside in the bucolic setting at Opossum Creek Retreat during the New River Birding and Nature Festival in Fayetteville, West Virginia, this episode finds the boys talking about this spring's slow migration, the amazing birder/naturalist Mark Garland, the hottub origin story of Redstart Birding, birding etiquette, dealing with SOBs (Spouses of Birders), hot toad action, and paying it forward as a birder and human.
May 14, 2018
Episode 33: Spring Birding Festivals Overview
This episode is a crazy quilt of topics including an overview of spring birding festivals, a review of the guys' travel plans, the technological challenges of list keeping, the humor of Al Batt, Audubon's Elephant Folio, loud rock concerts, choosing the best optics, and a special musical interlude from a podcast listener. And a sort-of update on the OTWTB Global Big Year Challenge™.
Apr 16, 2018
Episode 32: Meet the LeBron James of Birding Optics
Back in the USA, the boys are excited about waterfowl watching season. Ben talks about his bout with Duck Eye and how the Swarovski BTX scope cured him. Bill talks about #TamronTuesday and the opening day of the new baseball season. They also chat about the challenges of the Global Big Year Challenge™ and their struggles with eBird. Bill shares a new musical recommendation: Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit's new record "The Nashville Sound."
Apr 04, 2018
Episode 31: Live from Pico Bonito, Honduras
Los dos pajareros recorded this episode in two segments from the porch of their rustic accommodation at The Lodge at Pico Bonito. In part one they chat about the wonders of birding in the tropics. In part two they discuss the proposed closing of the Pico Bonito Lodge and what a sad possibility that would be. They have no solid update on the OTWTB Global Big Year Challenge™ because they haven't counted recently.
Mar 20, 2018
Episode 30: All Hail the Timberdoodle
Spring birds and birding are on the minds of the lads in this episode. Bill waxes rhapsodic about seeing a timberdoodle and shares some tips for getting ready for spring migration. Ben is preparing for a XC skiing race and bragging about closing the gap in the OTWTB Global Big Year Challenge™. Then the guys confess their musical love and admiration for Edie Brickell.
Feb 22, 2018
Episode 29: A Winter Birding Postcard from Florida
Fresh from the Space Coast Birding Festival, Bill and Ben welcome special guest Clay Taylor from Swarovski Optik to talk about his start in the bird biz, birding festivals, bird photography, and why Corpus Christi, Texas, is the continent's birdiest city. Ben and Bill reconvene after the Reader Rendezvous to discuss the glamor birds of Florida, Ben's gull resolution, bus engine trouble, great birding guides Adam and Gina Kent, and playing darts under the unwavering gaze of Mel Gibson. Then Ben refuses to share his species count during a global Big Year challenge update, despite Bill's emotional support and encouragement.
Feb 09, 2018
Episode 28: Bill and Ben's Global Big Year Challenge
Bill and Ben launch their OTWTB Global Big Year Challenge to see which of them can see the most birds in 2018. They discuss the Polar Bear Club, favorite birding gear for travel, high-end compact binoculars, the wonders of Merino wool, and they welcome two new sponsors: Swarovski Optik and Redstart Birding.
Jan 31, 2018
Episode 27: Happy New Birding Year!
The lads gab about a huge array of topics, including their first birds of the year, their birding resolutions, planning the (bird) garden, gearing up for 2018 birding events, seeking the chalk-dusted barley hopper, and some wildly disparate music recommendations.
Jan 11, 2018
Episode 26: Winter Birding Rocks SO Hard!
As they pass the quarter-century mark for episodes, the fellas sit inside on a snowy day and chat about winter birding, the recent Rock & Roll Reader Rendezvous in Cleveland, Jen Brumfield's record-setting county Big Year, the treasures held by the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, snowy owls, spark birds and spark jobs, Balto the wonder dog, and Audubon's cackling goose. Bill's RockHall music recommedation is to listen to Prince's guitar solo on "While My Guitar Gently Weeps." And, as an aside, Ben is getting back into optics retail.
Dec 22, 2017
Episode 25: Live From Whipple, Ohio
Ben and Bill recorded this episode while sitting outside in southeastern Ohio. They chat about Ben's recent experiences at the Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival in Texas, and the upcoming events at the Space Coast Birding Festival in Florida. Nemesis birds, missed rarities, hoped-for sightings, smelly vans, dump birding, birding skill-building and field-sketching workshops, Tamaulipas and Rain Crows, and shooting video versus recording an audio podcast are all topics that arise in this episode. Then, Bill drove Ben to the airport.
Dec 11, 2017
Episode 24: Oh the People, Birds, and Cheeses We'll Meet!
Just returned from yet another trip to Costa Rica, Ben spares a few minutes from his travels to chat with Bill about umbrellabirds, sunbitterns, pearl kites, U.S. birder demographics, birder types, the joys of guiding casual novice birders, and the time his mother-in-law got busted trying to smuggle cheese internationally. The boys also talk about upcoming Reader Rendezvous adventures in Florida and Colorado. Finally, Bill has a throw-back musical recommendation: Squeeze: Singles 45's and Under.
Nov 21, 2017
Episode 23: Have You Ever "Ben" to Costa Rica?
Ben Lizdas has been to Costa Rica twice this fall (lucky dog). In this episode he talks with some of his fellow participants in the Costa Rica Birding Challenge about birding in the tropics, birding competitions, ecolodges, and the wonders of Costa Rica. Sadly, (or perhaps not) Bill is almost completely excluded from this episode, but there's still a strong Thompson Family presence: That's Bill's daughter Phoebe doing the intro and outro voiceover.
Nov 06, 2017
Episode 22: Big Sits, Big Years, and Big Ducks
Through the magic of Skype the fellas hold down a conversation about rare birds, The Big Sit!, big sit strategy and rules, big years, world big years, and birding competitions. They also dip into the ornithological literature for a sidebar about male duck reproductive strategy. WARNING: Contains a short discussion of male duck genitalia.
Oct 24, 2017
Episode 21: Live From the American Birding Expo
The boys have a chinwag while walking the aisles of the 2017 American Birding Expo, near Philadelphia, PA. They stop to speak with friends from Chile, Australia, Uganda, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania about a variety of birding-related topics, including birding cameras, Rapa Nui, birds and wine, gorillas, shoe-billed storks, kangaroos, and new birders. They also discuss the Walking Dead fan event going on next door to the Expo. The episode ends with them heading over to find some zombies. We don't know if they ever came back.
Oct 10, 2017
Episode 20: Hurricanes, Birds, and People
Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Ivan, Gloria, and others dominate the boys' conversation in this episode. They discuss the impact of severe storms on people, birds, and birding as well as the possible extinction of birds such as the Cozumel thrasher and the Barbuda warbler. Also discussed is how we birders can help weather-devastated communities with our ecotourism dollars in the future. Finally, Bill has a musical recommendation: "So You Want to Be an Outlaw," the new album from Steve Earle & the Dukes.
Sep 14, 2017
Episode 19: Live From the Lord Nelson Pub
The lads pause for a post-BirdFair beer and chat in the back garden of the Lord Nelson pub in charming Oakham, England. They touch on a plethora of topics, including English beer, customs, currency, conservation ethos, and English as a second English language. Plus they dance across other topics, including ecotourism, the political clout of birders, international travel, and the upcoming American Birding Expo.
Sep 05, 2017
Episode 18: Birding the Borders
The guys talk about birding along borders and why it's often so good. They also discuss how the proposed border wall in South Texas is a horrible thing for birds and nature and will ruin a great birding site. They talk about their best border birding adventures in Texas, Arizona, Alaska, Minnesota, Hawaii, and North Carolina. Shout outs to: "Easy Rider", the ABA, the British Birdwatching Fair, Patty Larkin, Lauren Barth, The Knack, and Dexy's Midnight Runners.
Aug 15, 2017
Episode 17: Smart, Social Birds and Things That Can Kill You
Are we humans really on top of the food chain? Recent research and stories from the field may tell us we're not. The two Birding Bs talk about smart birds (ravens), soulful birds (jays and hawks), voracious insects, the smell of a herd of elk in heat, dangerous moments in nature, and much more. Bill also has a cool music recommendation for our listeners: Jake La Botz.
Aug 01, 2017
Episode 16: Birds As Symbols
The guys talk about the many ways birds are symbolic for humans. From the U.S. national symbol (the bald eagle) to a fight over the Oregon state bird, to wise owls, canaries in coal mines, beer labels, and bird tattoos, the guys cover topics like a sleeve of tatts covers your arm. Then Ben goes to a waterpark and we're waiting to see if he survived.
Jul 17, 2017
Episode 15: Birds and Music
Ben & Bill talk about the connections between birding and music, and how music lovers are good at birding by ear; famous birders; the new book Good Birders STILL Don’t Wear White; and how cowbirds learn their own song. Bill’s “The Song in My Head” recommendation is Aimee Mann’s new album, Mental Illness.
Jul 03, 2017
Episode 14: Live From Hog Island, Maine
The boys continue their discussion from the Hog Island Audubon Camp in Maine, chatting about seeing Atlantic puffins and other coastal birds and how birding gives you a sense of place. They also talk about two notes sent in by listeners, one about the musical suggestions from Bill and the other a nature soundscape recorded by a listener in Finland. The episode closes with Bill's latest new music recommendation: an artist known as Delicate Steve.
Jun 20, 2017
Episode 13: Spring Migration Report
Bill and Ben discuss the weird spring migration of 2017, and Ben interviews two bird migration experts: Greg Neise of the American Birding Association, and Dr. David LaPuma of Cape May Bird Observatory. Many birders agree that 2017's spring migration was abnormal and slow. Was it caused by weather? Climate Change? Population declines? Listen to find out.
Jun 08, 2017
Episode 12: Live From New River
The boys recorded this one sitting on the back porch at Opossum Creek Retreat in Fayetteville, West Virginia, following the fabulous New River Birding & Nature Festival. This episode features an interview with Debbie Sturdivant Jordan of Holbrook Travel, one of our podcast sponsors. The fellows talk about learning bird songs, being in birding guide mode, and a great book, The Warbler Guide.
May 22, 2017
Episode 11: Live From Portugal
Recorded live during the first international Reader Rendezvous for Bird Watcher's Digest in southern Portugal. The guys talk about birding in this ancient land, and the wonderful food, wine, landscapes, culture, people, and, oh yeah, birds they've encountered. They also talk about upcoming spring birding events and the famous osprey cam on Hog Island, Maine.
May 12, 2017
Episode 10: Traveling Birders and Bad TV Bird Sounds
The guys share pro tips for traveling birders, especially for optics and carry-on luggage. They also discuss the often hilariously wrong use of bird sounds on TV and in the movies.
Apr 29, 2017
Episode 9: Birding Mentors Like Chan Robbins
Bill and Ben talk about the importance of birding mentors, including the late, great Chan Robbins, who banded Wisdom the albatross in 1956. They talk about opportunities for young birders, and how Bill's daughter, Phoebe, recently added a new species to the home farm bird list.
Apr 11, 2017
Episode 8: Big Days, Big Sits, and Musical Birds
Ben and Bill yak about birding Big Days, The Big Sit!, tips for a successful Big Sit!, musicality in birds, spring bird song, and the Rock & Roll Rendezvous. Plus Bill has another music recommendation.
Mar 31, 2017
Episode 7: Signs of Spring
Bill and Ben discuss a mind-numbing array of topics including taking care of backyard birds, signs of spring, the NFL's concussion protocol, roadrunner vs. hummingbird, and how birding is good for mental health.
Mar 16, 2017
Episode 6: Live From Tybee Island, Georgia
Bill and Ben enjoy and in-person chat from a hotel balcony overlooking the beach in Tybee Island, Georgia. Topics range from beach-nesting birds and rarities to skimmer bills and rusty blackbirds. Bill also offers some new music suggestions.
Feb 28, 2017
Episode 5: Live From Florida's Space Coast!
The fellas recorded this episode while sitting in a rental car in the rain in fabulous birding habitat along the St. John's River near Titusville, Florida. They talk about birding in Florida, limpkin bills, limpkin calls, seeing both bitterns, travel must-haves, and more.
Feb 07, 2017
Episode 4: Live From Las Vegas!
Bill and Ben recorded this episode live from Las Vegas while attending the SHOT Show. They discuss the gear affinity between birding and hunting, the inclusion of eBird in the new Subaru, winter birding, the ethics of owling, Project SNOWstorm, and the Ameircan Birding Expo. With this episode we welcome Kowa Sport Optics as a podcast sponsor!
Jan 23, 2017
Episode 3: Duck Stamps, Rare Birds, the Super Bowl of Birding, and Space Coast
Ben and Bill romp through a variety of topics from Duck Stamps to birding events, and from young rock star birders to Ben’s regular reference to scatology.
Dec 29, 2016
Episode 2: Drama on the Tundra and Return from India
Bill and Ben discuss their usual potpourri of subjects, ranging from scientific to scatological, and from musical to memorable. Ben has been scouring the scientific literature for edifying topics while Bill has been trying to recover from a recent journey. Join the fellows for a relaxed conversation about birds, birding, and the latest in scatological research.
Dec 21, 2016
Episode 1: Winter Finches!
Bill and Ben talk about a variety of topics in this inaugural episode of the OTWTB podcast, including evening grosbeaks, the winter finch forecast, wild turkeys, seabird guano and climate change, feral cats, and the Honduras Birding for Conservation Tour.
Dec 03, 2016