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From the editor

Where the birds are

Chuck Hagner

Wouldn’t you know it? Pete Dunne’s column about Cape May, New ­Jersey, has inspired an article about Galveston Island, Texas.

In our last issue, Pete tallied all the reasons why Cape May, New Jersey, deserves consideration as the best birding location on the planet (“Birder at Large,” February 2015, page 14). These included not only that the area claims both the spring and autumn Big Sit records but also that, for many years, it held the North American yard-list record, too. No fewer than 316 species, Pete wrote, had been recorded in or from one yard in Cape May.

If you are at all like me and Managing Editor Matt Mendenhall, you probably read that and wondered, 316 species? In one yard? And someone somewhere, in another yard, has recorded even more? We had to know more about the new record-holder. You can read about him in Matt’s article “A Yard Like No Other” (page 22).

And wouldn’t you know it? The Platte River, a regular for many years on lists of great birding destinations, is still the place to visit — or, if you are at all like writer Cecily Nabors, to visit again. She made her first pilgrimage to see Nebraska’s Sandhill Cranes in March 1995. Then, curious what effect 20 years of development, water diversions, and drought would have on the great swirling clouds of circling cranes, she went back. As she writes in our cover story (“Return to Crane River,” page 16), she needn’t have worried.

And wouldn’t you know it again? There is a different way to identify birds that have few outstanding plumage characters or are seen under challenging conditions. According to Kevin Karlson and Dale Rosselet, authors of the long-awaited Peterson Reference Guide to Birding by Impression, the trick lies in concentrating on size, structure, body language, and other basics. You can read an illuminating chapter from the book, on identifying sparrows, on page 26.

Chuck Hagner, editor

See the contents of our April 2015 issue.