Bird Watcher's Digest
Bird Watcher's Digest is a bimonthly birding magazine that has been in publication since 1978. Bird Watcher's Digest was the first consumer bird watching magazine. Still today, it is the only national family-owned and operated bird watching magazine.
The magazine was first launched in Marietta, Ohio, from the living room of founders William and Elsa Thompson. Knowing very little about publishing, the Thompsons gathered their resources and mailed out 32,000 copies of their first magazine in September 1978.
The next five years would prove to be the toughest in BWD history; however, the Thompsons beat the odds and became part of the mere 2 percent of new publications that survive. In 1983, BWD moved into its first professional office building—a second floor of a construction company that had available office space. Three years later the Thompsons expanded the business when they purchased the building.
In 1994, Bill Thompson, Jr. left BWD to become vice president of his alma mater, Marietta College. His wife Elsa, and children still work for the family company: Bill Thompson III, as editor, Andy Thompson as publisher and Laura Thompson as circulation director.
Today the business has expanded beyond the magazine. The company publishes a bimonthly newsletter (Backyard Bird Newsletter) and has expanded into other bird-watching products, books and booklets such as the backyard booklet series and The Original Birdhouse Book.
Many well-known individuals in the birding community have written for Bird Watcher’s Digest, such as former President Jimmy Carter, Roger Tory Peterson, David Allen Sibley, Kenn Kaufman, Betty White, Eirik A. T. Blom, Julie Zickefoose, Dr. David Bird and Scott Shalaway. Guitarist Ted Nugent has contributed an article for the BWD web site.
Bird Watcher’s Digest occasionally partners with and supports Wild Birds Unlimited and Wild Bird Centers as well as key non-profit organizations including the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, National Wildlife Refuge Association, The Roger Tory Peterson Institute, Hawk Mountain and various nature and birding festivals.
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