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Bird internet: Welcome to Dispatches from the Flyway!
A weekly newsletter about birds
Welcome to Dispatches from the Flyway! This is a mostly personal newsletter that aims to spread bird joy by sharing bird sightings, photos, and other stories.
Before we begin, a disclaimer: I’m not an ornithologist, writer, or photographer. My usual day job is in tech marketing. I’m just a beginner birder (as you can tell from my eBird profile) and a hobbyist photographer (which you can tell from my Island Scrub Jay photo that, at time of writing, is rocking a 3-star rating on eBird).
I love birds and have loved them since I was a kid. I credit that love to my lolo (grandpa) who similarly loved them and always wanted—but never got—an African Gray Parrot. Instead, we had a cockatiel, followed by a couple parakeets and an Audubon Singing Bird Clock from which I learned the mourning dove call. A Pukeko sighting in New Zealand in 2017 sparked my “serious” birding, but I didn’t get really serious until—like many others—the pandemic. The Pukeko was my high school relationship, and the dark-eyed junco was the one I married, I guess you could say. I also had chickens for several years, so… I guess they were my children?
This passion project is about birds and, more importantly, the joy and even awe they can bring. Birds are everywhere. They live with us in cities, surround us in forests, swim in oceans, and fly above us in our skies. Humans throughout history have looked to them as both deities and omens. Many of them are also just beautiful.
Even if you don’t consider yourself a “birder,” taking notice of the birds around you can change your worldview. In her book How to Do Nothing, fellow Oakland birder Jenny Odell describes this shift like this: “When the pattern of your attention has changed, you render your reality differently. You begin to move and act in a different kind of world.” She further illustrates this idea through her own experience with the song sparrow, a common little brown bird you’ve probably seen hopping around under your table looking for food (and the bird in the silhouette of this newsletter’s logo):
“I looked over at my neighbor, the song sparrow, and thought about how just a few years ago, I wouldn’t have known its name, might not have even known it was a sparrow, might not have even seen it at all. How lonely that world seemed in comparison to this one! But the sparrow and I were no longer strangers. It was no stretch of the imagination, nor even of science, to think that we were related. Were were both from the same place (Earth), made of the same stuff. And most important, we were both alive.”
To start, this newsletter will feature my personal bird sightings and trips, spotlights on specific birds, and the occasional “special topic” feature. I’ll also share any interesting articles and resources from people who really know bird things. I’m trying to be “intentional” with my time and work-life balance, so I’m aiming for a weekly schedule and will be pleasantly surprised if I do more. Topics and cadence may change as time goes on, and I get a better handle on this Substack thing.
Thank you for reading so far! I hope you’ll follow along and that one (or more!) of these bird stories sparks joy for you too.
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