'Bird Talk' Magazine Folds Its Wings After 30 Years

Audie Cornish talks to Susan Chamberlain about the end of publication of Bird Talk magazine. Chamberlain is a longtime columnist and writer for the magazine.

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block. Bird owners are clucking with alarm now that Bird Talk magazine has folded its wings. The September issue will be its last in print. For 30 years, the magazine has published everything from glossy cover photos of feathered pets to avian health tips to a story about a bird-mitzvah, once held for an African gray parrot.

But, like so many print publications, Bird Talk struggled to make money and so it is no more.

CORNISH: Among those upset by the news is Susan Chamberlain. She's written for Bird Talk almost since the magazine's birth and she joins us from her home in Farmingville, New York. Susan, welcome to the program.

SUSAN CHAMBERLAIN: Hi, Audie.

CORNISH: So you're talking with us from your house. I gather you have a guest with you.

CHAMBERLAIN: I do. I have Cracker, my double yellow-headed Amazon parrot who's been with me for 32 years.

CORNISH: So you're not just a fan. You're also a writer of Bird Talk and, tell me, who were the readers?

CHAMBERLAIN: Well, the readers were pet bird owners and the majority, people who had pet birds, not necessarily breeders but some of them were breeders. And it was basically an informative magazine about the exotic bird hobby.

CORNISH: Now, it sounds like some of the content that would have been published in Bird Talk magazine is now going to be online on BirdChannel.com. Is that such a bad option?

CHAMBERLAIN: No. It's not a bad option at all, although some of the people who were reading the physical magazine still really just don't have access to the Internet. They're either not computer literate or they just don't want to do it.

CORNISH: Can you talk a little bit about what happened with Bird Talk? Because I read that it actually was pretty thick in the beginning. It had a lot of ad revenue.

CHAMBERLAIN: Well, it did. You know, when it first started, I'm not sure how many pages it had, but somewhere between 60 and 80 and then it eventually grew to a high of around 172 pages. Then, I guess with the dominance of the internet and the erosion of the economy, I think some of the businesses either went out of business or just turned to the Internet for their advertising and their way to reach customers.

CORNISH: So changing times in the media landscape, not changing rates of ownership of bird owners?

CHAMBERLAIN: No. I don't think so at all. I think more people than ever probably own birds now.

CORNISH: Well, Susan, thank you so much for speaking with me.

CHAMBERLAIN: OK. Well, thank you.

CORNISH: Can we say goodbye to Miss Cracker?

CHAMBERLAIN: We can. Cracker, would you like to say goodbye?

(SOUNDBITE OF BIRD CHIRP)

CHAMBERLAIN: Well, that was just a little tiny one.

(SOUNDBITE OF BIRD CHIRP)

CORNISH: The parrot, Cracker, and her owner, Susan Chamberlain, talking about Bird Talk magazine, which is ending its print publication.

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