#10: Mike Bergin – 10,000 Birds – Lessons from Pioneering an Online Nature Community

Summary

My guest today is Mike Bergin. Mike is the creator of 10,000 Birds, one of the oldest, and one of the most popular birding websites on the planet.

Mike Bergin, On Location

Mike was an early pioneer of nature blogging, carving a playbook for others to follow, and creating a community of birding bloggers. This carries on today, where his site has expanded to include top tier writers with diverse interests from across the globe.

In this episode we discuss the 10,000 Birds evolution, including how Mike grew the site, the challenges he encountered and overcame, and “transferable lessons” that can be used in other online pursuits. We dig into the unexpected opportunities that arose, as well as the lifelong community of friends and colleagues that it has created.

Mike also runs a podcast of his own, Tests and the Rest, relating to his other craft of college admissions prep, where he’s been able to apply many of these lessons he learned through 10,000 Birds.

We have a wide-ranging discussion beyond the nuts and bolts of building an online community, including bird names and moving away from “honorific” naming, ecotourism (and a great quote from Mike: “True ecotourism compels you to care about the place”), why birders make great neighbors, and some of Mike’s favorite field guides and books.

Links To Topics Discussed

People and Organizations

Corey Finger – Co-publisher of 10,000 Birds

Charlie Moores – early writer from Britain on 10,000 Birds

Rick Wright’s Blog, which delves into many fascinating topics, including bird name etymology and history.

Clare Morton – the Australian writer that Mike mentions

Dragan Simic – the Eastern European write Mike mentions

The Bronx Zoo – one of Mike’s childhood influences

Books and Other Interesting Things

Note: links to books are affiliate links

Mike’s Recommended Field Guides – Sibley’s is his favorite, but he also likes the Crossley guides

The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Eastern North America – David Sibley

The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Western North America – David Sibley

The Crossley ID Guide: Eastern Birds – Richard Crossley

The Crossley ID Guide: Raptors – Richard Crossley

The Crossley ID Guide: Waterfowl – Richard Crossley

Mike also recommends “What the Robin Knows” by Jon Young, which focuses on learning bird behavior – and especially vocalizations – to better learn what is happening in the environment. Jays and Crows “mobbing” behavior is an easy example, and this book gets much deeper.

Pilgrim on the Great Bird Continent: The Importance of Everything and Other Lessons from Darwin’s Lost Notebooks, by Lyandra Lynn Haupt

Other Books and Things discussed

Mike’s article on “Wood-warbler Names Done Right”

Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival

Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival

Grey Treepie – one of the highlight birds Mike saw in Hong Kong

The Biggest Week in American Birding – Yes, it really is one of the bigger weeks in birding, held during migration in Ohio.

Music Credits

Opening – Fearless First by Kevin MacLoed

Closing – Beauty Flow by Kevin MacLoed

Both can be obtained from https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/


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