Guidelines for Writers

BWD does not publish poetry or works of fiction.

Each issue of BWD comprises a wide array of interesting, informative, helpful, fun, and inspiring reading material aimed at bird watchers and birders at all levels of interest and ability. Story pitches and queries are not necessary, and even discouraged. We do not accept manuscripts for publication until we review and approve the finished story. We ask all prospective contributors to write “on spec,” and send their work to [email protected], recognizing that their story may be declined. We do consider reprints of stories about birds, birders, birding adventures, and birding destinations published previously in local or regional periodicals or on blogs. Submissions are reviewed twice a year, summer and winter. Publication of accepted stories can take several years. BWD is fortunate to have a huge backlog of wonderful stories about birds, birders, birding adventures, and places to go birding, and in general, the wheels of production turn slowly.

Regrettably, we do not pay for unsolicited manuscripts at this time. We rarely assign stories, and we do not have reporters on staff. We cannot promise that all stories accepted for publication will be printed in the paper edition of BWD; some stories will run in the digital-edition only.

My Way

Bird watchers share their ideas with others in this short (fewer than 1,000 words) how-to or experiential column. My Way stories often involve a tip or trick regarding bird feeding, but not necessarily. Authors whose material is published in My Way receive a year’s free subscription or renewal to BWD.

The Well-Equipped Birder

TWEB includes ideas, tips, and innovations for today’s active bird watcher, including clothing, gear, software, and backyard birding products. This short (1,000-word max) column is usually written by BWD staff, but freelance submissions are welcome. Authors whose material is published in The Well-Equipped Birder receive a year’s complimentary subscription or renewal to BWD.

Far Afield

Travel articles focusing on great birding destinations and hotspots are considered for the Far Afield column. The destination can be as small as a regional park, or as large as a region that hosts dozens of birding hotspots. Most Far Afield articles focus on North American destinations, but international destinations nearby or easy to get to are also considered. The ideal Far Afield column is written in the first-person voice and is roughly 1,500 words. It should be accompanied by a roughly 500-word “If You Go” sidebar that features recommendations on food and lodging, cultural must-sees, and other helpful information to visitors. Authors of stories selected for the Far Afield column will receive a complimentary two-year subscription or renewal to BWD.

The Backyard

Our backyard section comprises several short articles (of roughly 500 to 1,000 words) on backyard-related topics, including interesting sightings, feeding and housing, humorous backyard experiences, and helpful ideas. Some backyard birding stories submitted to BWD will be published instead in its sister publication, Watching Backyard Birds. Upon publication of backyard-themed stories, authors receive a one-year subscription or renewal to the magazine in which the story was published: BWD or WBB.

Species Profiles

Each issue of BWD includes one or two species profiles covering the basic natural history of a given bird species. Personal experiences with the species add interest. The ideal word count is 1,500 words. Species profiles that accompany the cover art include a roughly 500-word sidebar with these sections: What to Look and Listen For; When and Where to Look; Feeding Behavior; and Courtship and Nesting Behavior. The sidebar content should not be redundant with the main story. Authors of published species profiles will receive a complimentary two-year subscription or renewal to BWD.

Feature Stories

Each issue of BWD contains several feature articles (about 1,000 to 2,000 words each) covering a wide variety of bird-watching topics, including birding anecdotes, international travel for birding, bird humor, tributes to mentors, bird conservation projects and successes, and much more—anything a birder would find informative, inspiring, or otherwise enjoyable. Authors of feature stories published in BWD will receive a complimentary subscription or renewal, the duration dependent upon the length, depth, specialized knowledge, travel expense, etc.

We strongly prefer stories submitted via email. Send them to [email protected], with “Submission – (your topic)” in the subject line. Use the body of the message as a cover letter, and attach your manuscript in MS Word or rich text format. PDF format is acceptable but not preferred.

Submissions sent in print via regular mail (USPS, UPS, FedEx, etc.) will not be returned without inclusion of a self-addressed, stamped envelope with adequate return postage.

Whether submitting in print mail or by email, please include your full contact information on the manuscript as well as in the cover letter: full name, mailing address, phone number, and email address.

Response Time from Our Editors

If you email your submission to us, you will receive an auto-response indicating that we have received it. We will follow up with a personal email… eventually. We review manuscripts each summer and winter, usually January and July. Your submission will receive careful consideration, but it might take several months before we inform you of our decision.

Please note: We receive hundreds of unsolicited manuscripts each year, but need about 40. Please don’t be discouraged by these numbers, however! We never know when an article we’ve received will be just right for the pages of BWD, so we never discourage submissions. We love to read about birds and bird watching, to discover new writers, new topics, and wonderful new material. Please do send us your story! Again, we discourage pitches or queries, and ask all authors to write “on spec,” recognizing that their story may be declined.

Material We’re Always Interested in Receiving

BWD is always looking for well-written accounts covering backyard birds, including feeding, housing, bird gardening, how-to projects, and interesting bird behavior and experiences. Species profiles, and North American travel-for-birding stories as potential Far Afield columns, are always welcome. Articles that touch on a unique/unusual topic, humor, and authoritative advice often find a place among our pages.

Material Unlikely to Be Accepted

• Stories on pet birds, caged birds, zoo birds, or birds that are otherwise restrained
• Accounts of raising orphaned baby birds
• Politically oriented articles

Helpful Hints

Obtain a sample copy of BWD at your local library, newsstand, bookstore, or wild bird store, or read sample pages of our digital edition at birdwatchersdigest.com/samplebwd to familiarize yourself with the type of material we publish.

If you’re a current BWD subscriber, you’ll already know the topics we’ve covered in recent issues. We rarely repeat coverage of a topic—such as a species profile or a birding hotspot destination—within a period of two or three years. When considering a topic, please browse or search the BWD index at birdwatchersdigest.com/issueindex.

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