Meet the BWD Family: Emily Nichols, Events Coordinator

Emily Nichols (whom some of you may have met when she was Emily Jones) is all about having fun!

As anyone who has traveled as part of a group knows, it takes a special person to organize such an adventure, to accommodate the needs and wishes of all the people in the party, to do so with bottomless patience and cheerfulness. If you have traveled with Bird Watcher’s Digest on one of our Reader Rendezvous over the past several years, then you know how lucky we are to have found all of these qualities and more in Emily Nichols, our events coordinator.

Emily (formerly Emily Jones, up until last December when she married her beau, Justin!) came to BWD in 2015 as a marketing intern while she was attending nearby Marietta College. “I started with small tasks such as bird ID profiles and festival databasing, then shifted to assisting with events. I bonded with Bill and the rest of the staff quickly, and was actually hired upon graduation as their full-time events coordinator in 2016,” she says. “I had no interest in bird watching but I did have interests in traveling, planning, being outdoors, and people. I started off helping plan and organize a couple Reader Rendezvous, which escalated to planning and managing three major American Birding Expos and 20+ Reader Rendezvous tours in the next four years. What a ride it has been!”

Our Reader Rendezvous are opportunities for BWD subscribers and fans to go birding with our staff, columnists, and contributors in some of our favorite birdy places in North America and around the world. As you can imagine, when asked what her favorite part of her job is, Emily is quick to say it is being paid to travel! “I’ve been to Hog Island, Maine (twice!); Tybee Island, Georgia; Titusville, Florida; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Ft. Collins, Colorado; Cape May, New Jersey; Carrington, North Dakota; Klamath Falls, Oregon; and Senegal!”

She says trying to pick her favorite trip is like picking a favorite child, “BUT, I would say my most relaxing (because I didn’t have to plan it) and eye-opening trip was to Senegal, Africa’s western-most country. It was like landing on an alien world you’d only ever viewed through a telescope. Every aspect of the tour blew me away.”

Domestically, her favorite trip is a tie between Maine and Colorado, both of which were filled with “gorgeous scenery, birds, and people!”

While Emily may have one of the longest life lists on our staff, she still doesn’t think of herself as a birder. “I’m a learner,” she says, and just enjoys seeing and learning about new things no matter what it is.

But she does have a favorite bird, which is “ANY TYPE OF OWL” (though those adorable Atlantic puffins are a close second). One of her favorite birding stories involves a barn owl surprise on her recent trip to Senegal: “We were birdwatching in Djouj National Park—the first water source south of the Sahara Desert and the third-most important bird area in Africa. We stopped to take a lunch break by a body of water with two teal-colored elevated duck blinds along it. I wanted to get a better look over the water, so I climbed the ladder up one of the blinds. As soon as I peeped my eyes over the ledge into the blind, a ball of feathers came screeching and flapping out right over my head! Of course I screamed at the top of my lungs and happened to notice a small nest laying on the floor of the blind. After retreating quickly down the ladder, we discovered it was a momma barn owl nesting. I was assured by our guide that she would return to her young after we left. Although this wasn’t the introduction I imagined to my favorite type of bird, it was a hilarious one that I will never forget.”

While her travel has been limited in 2020, Emily has been busy planning future Reader Rendezvous for 2021 and beyond, which we hope you will consider joining! Like you, we are concerned about travel, and are working hard to establish new COVID-friendly ways to enjoy birding together. We are restructuring the way we conduct birding events, and you’ll hear from Emily soon about our *new and improved* small, safe, and socially distant Reader Rendezvous for 2021.