Hi, I'm Neil Gilbert, and I am the new manager of The Eyrie. Saraiya has defected to the 
African continent and has sporadic internet access, so I am stepping up to keep The Eyrie alive.

The prospect of writing a bio brought foul memories of college applications; explaining my passion for birding to an uninitiated audience was a frustrating task. There might have been instances when I threw violent temper tantrums like a slightly overgrown three-year old, hurling crumpled essay after essay into an inadequate heap beside my desk. Fortunately, I will not have that problem here, since you are a birder, just like me.

I suppose a bit of background information is necessary. I grew up a sleepy suburb of Detroit with the completely unimaginative and inappropriate name of Beverly Hills. At the age of six, I developed an inexplicable obsession with Sanderlings on the beach while vacationing in Florida, and from that point forward I was doomed to a life of early mornings, frigid lakewatches, and humid hikes. The early years were simple yet wonderful; I reveled in the discovery of Baltimore Orioles and Blackburnian Warblers in my backyard. Then, my dad began chauffeuring me to Detroit Audubon field trips farther afield to pursue new birds. By the time I was ten, I was thoroughly obsessed, actively birding across the southeast quadrant of Michigan.

Then, at the age of fourteen, my family moved to Orange County, California. The older birders I consorted with prophesied that I would abandon birding in favor of cars and girls. I was determined to prove them wrong, and I did. Thanks to the fact that I was homeschooled and had ample birding time, I birded nearly incessantly over the next three years, enjoying California's abundant and varied fauna.

College called. Last September, I moved–of all places–back to Michigan. More specifically, Grand Rapids, where I am studying biology and Spanish at Calvin College. College has presented all sorts of dilemmas: ramble across campus in pursuit of migrant warblers, or write that paper; skip three classes to chase a frigatebird, or do the responsible thing and regret it for the rest of my life; scoure the lakeshore for ducks and gulls, or study for finals. I am glad to say that, in spite of being a college student, I am still a rabid birder. And you know what that entails, because you're one, too.

Apologies for boring you so long. I'll try not to make it a habit; I have my own blog to bore people with. If interested, visit Obsessive-Compulsive Birding. Laugh, cry, or sigh–I don't care which, but don't blame me; you didn't have to click the link.

And lastly, some housekeeping: keep your eyes peeled over the next week or two for a new series of posts about master artists posing as young birders. The first charlatan to be featured is Andrew Guttenberg. If you know him, I won't blame you for checking the blog every five minutes until the post appears; if not, prepare to gain a new idol.