Some Thoughts About the Birds Eat Free Foundation


Six years ago, I wrote, “I want to be a begonia,” and sent that out to all my business colleagues.

The explanation was that in a week, I would be starting my new career as an employee of the world. I didn’t expect to be a medical software developer anymore and would lose my title of “Staff Software Engineer.” So, what would I be? “Begonia” comes from “The Education of Henry Adams.” Adams was the great grandson of our second president and a popular writer and historian of his time. A senator (or maybe it was a congressman) called him a “begonia” to mean that he was a showy person without substance or value. Instead of being insulted, Adams was ecstatic. Not only did he agree, but he was very happy to be noticed. But Henry Adams was the grandson and great grandson of two American presidents. He had the panache to pull off being a begonia. I admitted to my colleagues that I would probably start off as a begonia and eventually degrade into a dandelion. So, instead I would pick something less challenging and try to be a naturalist.


A friend whose first name is Heike responded, “All the best to you, Bill. I love the Begonia blog, but why are dandelions considered a lower life form, a weed? I always loved them best since I was a kid! First, they are wonderful golden symbols of a thousand suns lighting up the meadows and later they turn out a million little parachutes which carry your dreams with them on a light breeze. The juice from the stems we used to tattoo our skin (at least temporarily) and the leaves make a great salad. What can a Begonia do compared to that? I definitely go with the dandelion.”

little girl in field

Shortly after retiring from software development, I started a non-profit company with my friend, Greg Allen, to foster education about the natural world. That allowed me to travel around the country and publish what I saw in a website that I built with my daughter Rachel’s help. We used the freeware Joomla, and the site was pretty basic, but it was crammed full of stuff, and we got a lot of visits for four years. We had a long running journal of my birding trips, a full-length book that I wrote called Birds Eat Free, Rachel’s trip to India, my son Mike’s trip to Japan, my daughter Kathryn’s trip to Cuba, poetry, links to photo galleries, and podcasts that featured my imaginary friends, Bungie Cord Bill and Infinity. It was fun until the site went down with a virus. It took me two years to get my head around it and go for help.

Help came in the form of a website rebuild by the project leaders, designers, and coders at InMotion Hosting. If you like the way the new website looks, check them out. I think they are great, and they are not paying me to say it. Actually, we are paying them.

Even more help came when my wife Chris retired from her career and joined me as the editor of the newly built site. She took the reins and is getting us to the next level as we try to reach out to our community in a more focused and more substantial manner.


So, the Birds Eat Free Foundation is doing something that most startups fail to do. We are surviving. Here is the mission statement that I wrote six years ago. I think we should keep it.

“To go where no naturalist has ever gone before, or at least into my backyard.
“To write a complete sentence on most days, or at least occasionally.
“To not be boring, or at least not be boring a lot.”

5 thoughts on “Some Thoughts About the Birds Eat Free Foundation

  1. Appreciate it for helping out, excellent info. “If you would convince a man that he does wrong, do right. Men will believe what they see.” by Henry David Thoreau.

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