Guidelines for Writers

Bird Watcher’s Digest (BWD) is a bimonthly magazine devoted to providing entertaining, informative, and engaging content to its readers and subscribers. It was founded in 1978 in the living room of the Thompson family of Marietta, Ohio, and is still the only independently owned and operated wild-bird magazine in North America. It is also the only bird-watching magazine created by bird watchers, for bird watchers.

Each issue of BWD comprises a wide array of material aimed at bird watchers and birders at all levels of interest and ability. Regular columns and features for which freelance submissions are considered are listed here.

My Way

Bird watchers share their ideas with others in this short (fewer than 1,000 words) how-to or experiential column. 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. This short (750-word) column is usually written by BWD staff, but freelance submissions are welcomed.

Far Afield

Travel articles focusing on great birding destinations, unusual traveling experiences, and related topics. About 75 percent of our “Far Afield” articles focus on North American destinations, but international birding hotspots are also appropriate topics.

The Backyard

Our backyard section comprises two to four short articles (from 500 to 1,500 words each) on backyard-related topics including feeding and housing, humorous backyard experiences, and helpful ideas.

Species Profiles

Each issue of BWD includes up to two species profiles covering the basic natural history of a given bird species. Length: between 1,500 and 2,500 words.

Feature Stories

Each issue contains four or five feature articles (about 1,000 to 2,000 words each) covering a wide variety of bird-watching topics.

Freelance Submissions

We appreciate query letters in advance, but we do not accept a manuscript for publication until we review and approve the finished story.

We encourage and prefer queries and manuscript submissions via email. Send them to [email protected] with the subject line “Submission – (your topic).” Use the body of the message as a cover letter, and attach your manuscript in MS Word or rich text format.

If you send your submissions via regular mail (USPS, UPS, FedEx, etc.), please include a
self-addressed, stamped envelope with enough postage for the return of all materials.
Whether submitting by regular mail or by email, please include your full contact information on the manuscript.

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 within two weeks. We aim to review manuscripts quarterly, depending upon volume. Your submission will receive careful consideration, but it might take several months before we inform you of our decision.

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!

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.

We also publish general feature articles covering a wide array of topics of interest to today’s bird watcher. Articles that touch on a unique/unusual topic, humorous articles, and authoritative advice-type articles 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 (left or right)
  • Travelogue-style accounts (First we went here and saw this bird, then we went there and saw these birds. Next we went …)

Helpful Hints

Obtain a sample copy of BWD from us or at your local newsstand, bird store, or bookstore, or read our digital edition at and familiarize yourself with the type of material we regularly 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 within a period of two to three years.


Bill Thompson, III
Editor and co-publisher
Bird Watcher’s Digest
P.O. Box 110
149 Acme Street
Marietta, OH 45750
Ph: 740-373-5285
Fx: 740-373-8443
[email protected]

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