February 2016 From the Editor What I think about By Chuck Hagner It can be nothing and everything: The weather. Subspecies. And, more and more frequently, the coming elections. Features Whitewater diver By Cheryl Lyn Dybas What changing numbers and new winter locations mean for our most beautiful sea duck. Almost dinner By Cary Rideout The amazing story of the hiker who came eye to eye with a Great Gray Owl. Birds on our radar By Matt Mendenhall Leaders of the birding community describe issues that birders care about in the coming election year. The subspecies conundrum By John Kricher How it’s decided whether a subspecies deserves recognition as a full species. Tablet Extras By the editors See the articles from BirdWatching and other online resources that we added to our February issue. Columns Since You Asked Answers to your questions By Julie Craves Unusual tail bands, woodpeckers that peck on stone walls, and more. Birder at Large The good stuff By Pete Dunne Why no birder regrets buying premium binoculars. Attracting Birds For better or worse By Laura Erickson Dealing with the smart and spirited Blue Jay. Amazing Birds Feather basics By Eldon Greij Why birds’ feathers come in so many shapes and sizes. ID Tips Northern Harrier By Kenn Kaufman Only a minority of harriers are in the ‘gray ghost’ category. ID Toolkit Bill shape By David Sibley To understand the wide variation, look first to similarities in structure. Hotspots Near You 225. ‘Aiea Loop Trail, Aiea, Hawaii A nearly five-mile path northwest of Honolulu where you can spot honeycreepers, Mariana Swiftlet, and other forest birds. By Lance Tanino Published: 12/22/2015 226. Robert K. Rees Memorial Park, New Port Richey, Florida Beach, wetlands, and a mangrove swamp attract waterfowl, rails, spoonbills, warblers, and many other birds. By Howard Altman Published: 12/22/2015 227. Ormond Beach and Wetlands, Oxnard, California More than 200 species have been found on this beach and adjacent wetlands south of Oxnard. By Chuck Graham Published: 12/22/2015 228. Port Aransas Nature Preserve, Port Aransas, Texas Less than an hour from Corpus Christi, this preserve is a great place to find raptors, waterfowl, shorebirds, and songbirds. By G. Joan Holt Published: 12/22/2015 Also in Every Issue Birding Briefs Important news about birds, birdwatching, and conservation. Your View Reader-submitted photographs, including the winner of our regular Photo of the Week contest. Fieldcraft A photo taken by a reader, along with a description of how the photographer got the shot. Stay in touch with BirdWatching Keep up to date on all the latest birding news and info. Sign Up for Our Free Newsletter!