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Bill Holm - Feather Brained

Nonbirder Birding with Bill Holm

Bill Magee Marsh
Bill Holm graces the Magee Marsh Estuary Trail

I first met my friend Bill Holm in 1978 at Cadence weekly newspaper in East Grand Rapids, where he may or may not have been my boss. He’d been too detached from everything for me to figure out what he did.

Bill had been a witness to my strange transformation since marrying Linda from pet disdainer to fussy caretaker for scores of demanding animals. Early in my duck-keeping days, he had helped me build an extension to our backyard pen, astonishing me with the fact that there was indeed someone in the world more inept with hammer, nails, and a bent handsaw than me.

Bill Holm In His Own WriteBill hadn’t ever expressed any enthusiasm for birds. The first time I asked him to go birding with me, I wanted to pay a visit to the Muskegon Wastewater System to search for shorebirds. I hadn't expected him to agree to come along. I didn’t have any birding friends. I didn’t have many friends, period, and out of desperation I had given him a call. His eager response shocked me.

“Birding at a wastewater facility? How can I say no?”

“I have to warn you, it’s ugly and stinky.”

“When do we leave?”

“And you can’t really get out and walk around. You pretty much have to do the whole thing from your car.”

He insisted on driving. And when he picked me up, he overflowed with merriment at the idea of what we were doing.

Exotic Michigan Birding

Since then, Bill and I have birded other exotic Michigan locations together, including the driveway of a birding friend’s house in Chelsea and the Muskegon Lake channel alongside the SS Silversides submarine. He is the least fussy person I’ve ever traveled with, constantly affable in a complaining sort of way, and willing to spend the night in a shoddy budget motel that fits my price range as long as there’s a liquor store down the road.

I primarily bird by ear, meaning I find birds by listening to their calls, because my visual skills are weak. So I appreciate Bill’s keen eye and his lightning quick ability to make fun of me when I misidentify what we find.

First and foremost, though, he is the discoverer of a special bird attracting fluid. But I would be shortchanging you if I told that story here, when the full pleasures of encountering Bill at length in Feather Brained await. And I’d be shortchanging my book royalties, too.

Birding Podcasts with Bill

Bill appears in all my books, but takes up more space than usual in Feather Brained. When he's not busy being a book character, Bill is a professional writer living in Holland, Michigan, with his wife, Marcia, and two cats, Fredsy and Brigitte.

Bill Stocking CapDespite adamantly insisting that he isn't a birder, Bill joins me in numerous birding podcasts for my What Were You Thinking? podcast for PetLifeRadio.com. A few of them are listenable. Even fewer contain useful birding information.

Click the Bill Holm In His Own Write link for an extra special essay from Bill about himself.

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