Cloudy, with Afternoon Brainstorms

By Hugh Powell
Snapping turtle in the Sapsucker Wood inspiration
Snapping turtle in the Sapsucker Woods. Image: CLO.
Here in Ithaca, summer is pushing across the land like a steam iron. The ponds at Sapsucker Woods keep the humidity at full bore throughout the day, and snapping turtles line the trails, their mouths hanging open. It’s as if the steamy air has them convinced they’re still underwater. (To be fair, they’re actually laying eggs.)

On these sticky summer days, you always hope for relief in the form of a thrilling afternoon thunderstorm. We’re still waiting for ours – so far the lightning seems to have been concentrated over in Illinois. That’s where inspiration struck the men, women, kids and dogs that write for Birdfreak. They brainstormed 12 excellent tips for taking our site, as they put it, straight “into the upcoming Web 3.0 era.”

They’ve got some great ideas, including asking for more blogging (note: coming right up), more kinds of media incorporated into All About Birds, and easier ways for users to contribute, comment, rate, and tag articles.

Of course, they and other commenters have cautioned us, too: Don’t make the site so fancy that it becomes a slow-loading, gimmicky bandwidth hog.

That sounds like a balancing act – so perhaps you can help us narrow down where to draw the line. How much so-called “rich media” are you looking for in a bird site? If we posted, say, video footage of bird behavior, or birding-tutorial podcasts, would you watch them? Are you interested in getting news digests on birding-related science and conservation? Do you use tagging services such as Digg, StumbleUpon, or

Perhaps you’d prefer a sleeker interface that lets you identify birds, learn a little about them, and move on? As you may have gathered by now, we’re eager to give you features. We just want to make sure they’re the ones you want. So keep those brainstorms booming – and thanks for sending them our way

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