The Casual Birder: Bird Watching for Amateurs

I’ll be honest, when Suzy Buttress emailed me to tell me about her birdwatching podcast, my initial thought was “how does that work?” How does a hobby that has “watching” in the name translate over to a medium that is entirely auditory? I’m not much of a birdwatcher myself, so I was excited to talk to Suzy about her show, The Casual Birder, and learn what I could about both the hobby and how it functioned in the podcasting space. Here’s what I’ve learned.

Suzy has loved birds since she was a child. She told me about believing herself to be “a Disney princess” and thinking “the birds would come flocking” to her. Outside of her home in England, Suzy had increasing opportunities to feed and watch birds and told me that “even though you’re just a food receptacle to them, it’s just the most amazing thing to have them come and eat out of your hand.” Suzy went on to explain that “birds have been a passion of [hers] for all [her] life, but [she’s] not the sort of birder who will rush around across the country to find that one rare bird that’s popped onto our shore.” Suzy’s love of every bird, rare or regular, might have remained a quiet hobby had she not discovered podcasts.

“I’ve been a really big podcast fan for about eleven or twelve years,” said Suzy, going on to explain that podcasts are not as well-known or popular in the UK as they are here in the States. Suzy began to connect with other consumers of the medium through a fan group she began running for the Maximum Fun network. Through those connections, she learned that regular people, not just celebrities, could have podcasts. Later she had the pleasure of meeting some of her favorite podcast hosts and happened to tell them she had an idea for a birdwatching podcast – a perfect way to share her passion for birds with people all over the world. Once she had said it, Suzy simply had to follow through and has been making The Casual Birder ever since.

Remember when I couldn’t figure out how a birdwatching podcast would work? Well, here’s the answer: “Each week, I talk about my birding week, then I’ll either discuss a particular bird species, and that may be linked to an experience I’ve had, or I will interview someone who is either an enthusiast about birds or an expert on birds. Then, quite often I’ve taken people out on bird walks so that we can record a location and I can talk to them and we can describe the birds we’re seeing.” Suzy finishes her episodes by reading listener feedback and sharing some of her fans’ stories about their own birdwatching.

Suzy’s listeners are still one of her favorite parts about the show. From the moment she found podcasts, Suzy was “a big believer in podcasts’ ability to create connections with people.” Through the show, Suzy has had the opportunity to form a community of fellow birdwatchers, particularly on Facebook. The Casual Birder offers people a place to be exactly that: casual. “Here’s a group that says ‘we’re all enthusiasts here, show us your birds. We don’t mind what the quality of the photograph is, it’s the passion behind it that is important.’” Suzy doesn’t want people turned away from the group because they aren’t National Geographic photographers; if you love birds, this is the place for you.

Suzy is excited to continue her bird walks, to travel widely and gather bird sounds, and to grow the community she reaches along the way. So if you love birds, nature, or community, check out The Casual Birder and be sure to leave a rating and review to let Suzy know what you think!

Chasing Pods is a Podchaser blog series dedicated to letting our readers know about podcasts they may not have heard of or provide a sneak peek into the making of their favorite podcast. We talk to podcast creators about their journey into podcasting, the creation of their shows, the ups and downs of the work, and what they’re looking forward to for their podcast

Do you love or make a cool podcast? Do you want to be featured on our blog? Email Morgan (morgan@podchaser.com) to tell her why your favorite show should be featured next.