Seymore Gulls Has Gained Renown for His Bird-Watching Social Media Accounts and Bird-Watching Walks

“During COVID, everybody got into birding.”

Seymour Gulls (Courtesy Seymour Gulls)

In the last year and a half, one local bird watcher has taken the city by storm. Portlander Eric Carlson—also known by his birding alias and pen name, Seymore Gulls—has gained renown for his bird-watching social media accounts and bird-watching walks.

Carlson is the author of Neighborhood Birding 101, a guide for beginners and casual practitioners, and he has two more books on the way this September: Backyard Birds West and Backyard Birds East. He first started bird watching more than 10 years ago when he and a close friend were looking for a new hobby.

“One of the things was, ‘Let’s go pick up bird watching,’” Carlson says. “And then I got super into it because of the Pokémon aspect, like ‘Gotta catch ‘em all.’”

Over the next couple of years, Carlson’s interest in bird watching waxed and waned as he looked for groups to join but struggled to find one that he enjoyed. Eventually, while working as a kayaking guide and pointing out cool birds to clients, he realized he could create the kind of group he was looking for.

“You don’t have to know everything to be a good guide,” Carlson says. “You just have to be excited about something and help people have a good experience.”

Then, when COVID-19 prompted many people to pick up a new hobby to stay occupied during lockdown, Carlson actually noticed that more young people began to get interested in bird watching, and he wanted to help make the activity more accessible.

“During COVID, everybody got into birding,” Carlson says. “After the big, ‘The whole world’s falling apart, what do I do?’ I started making infographics.”

He began posting that data on social media to help others identify local birds. Simple and straightforward, the graphics include text about and lines pointing to distinguishing features on bird photos, roughly half of which Carlson took himself.

After finding some success, Carlson expanded to TikTok in January 2022, and a video of a Florida scrub jay touching down on his head went viral. His account blew up and now boasts more than 50,000 followers.

“I went to Florida specifically for this thing called a Florida scrub jay and it landed on my head,” Carlson says. “People loved it. That’s when my TikTok blew up.”

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