Considering the great diversity of articles we’ve published through the years, and the extraordinary experience and knowledge of the birders who write for us, I would have a dickens of a time saying which stories were my favorites; I’ve enjoyed too many.
Several in this issue would go on the list of favorites simply because of the astounding things they reveal about birds. That tiny Red-necked Phalarope, for example, flies from Scotland to Central America to Peru and back again every year. (See page 7.) Or that, in an irruption year like this one, a Snowy Owl can fly as far south as Florida (page 12). Or that Northern Saw-whet Owl, the bird on our cover and the subject of science writer Cheryl Lyn Dybas’s fascinating article on page 16, times its spring migration to coincide with the northbound flights of small songbirds.
Managing Editor Matt Mendenhall’s feature on page 22, “Five Backyards That Birds Love,” would have a spot on my list as well. With the help of friends at the National Wildlife Federation, he showcases five properties that have been certified bird-friendly. Each is a different size and shape, and each is located in a different region of the country, yet each attracts and sustains birds, and lots of them. Matt’s story has transformative power: It will help you see your own yard a new way — the way a bird sees it.
Bill Mueller’s article, “My Long Walk,” has real power, too. (See page 32.) Last spring, he walked clear across the state of Wisconsin, from Lake Michigan to the Mississippi, birding all the way. He did it to raise much-needed money for bird conservation, a big and ultimately successful goal, but he also accomplished something else: He demonstrated to me and many other Wisconsin birders that one determined, humble birdwatcher is all it takes to change things for the better for birds. Perhaps his article will inspire you to do something similar.
Chuck Hagner, editor