Birding your way
While I was editing our October issue, I kept coming back to the motto of the American Birding Association: “A million ways to bird.” It’s brilliant, because in five simple words, it says, “Hey, you can watch and appreciate birds in whatever ways you want: feeding, photography, art, scientific study, staying local, chasing rarities, traveling near and far, you name it!”
This issue of BirdWatching features four stories along that theme.
Pete Dunne, in his “Birder at Large” column (page 12), describes his local patch — Strawberry Avenue, a large area of tidal marsh and mudflats near Port Norris, New Jersey — and why he goes birding there frequently. Pete also explains why all birders should have a favorite local patch.
Along those lines, we also present “A year in one place” (page 14). Shane Sater, a talented young naturalist who lives in Helena, Montana, traces the birdlife that passes through Sevenmile Creek, a degraded grassland stream that is being restored into a riparian zone. Through close observations over the course of a calendar year, Sater found that even though the restoration work isn’t finished, lots of birds already rely on the 350-acre parcel. The story is an excellent example of the value of birding locally.
Next up is “A journey to 700” (page 22). In it, Steve Hampton, a birder from Davis, California, tells the story of setting a goal for himself more than 40 years ago to tally 700 species in the continental United States and Canada. While some birders have achieved — and surpassed — this goal in a single year, Hampton worked at it while living life: maintaining a healthy marriage, raising kids, coaching soccer, and working in a profession that helps birds.
Finally, writer Jesse Greenspan offers a story, “Consumed by counting” (page 28), that dives into the motivations of the world’s super-birders: those whose life lists are in the thousands of species. They may go to more extremes to find birds than most of us, but is their obsession with birds all that different from others, like those who bird locally or on one continent?
To honor the late Jon Hornbuckle, the birder whose life-list total of 9,600 species exceeds all others, we selected Jamaican Lizard-Cuckoo as our cover bird. He spotted the bird in Jamaica on one of his last birding trips before his untimely passing earlier this year.
Matt Mendenhall, editor
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