This promises to be a memorable winter for birders in the Lower 48 states. As
I write, we’re already seeing White-winged Crossbills—such as the beautiful
adult male, above—and several other irruptive species in the Cayuga
Lake area as these sporadic visitors from the far northern boreal forest
flood southward, some going all the way to Florida. (See our articles from this issue, “Superflight” and
“Among the Alders”.)
We are especially pleased to present Gerrit Vyn’s timely article about the critically
endangered Spoon-billed Sandpiper, which researchers fear could become extinct
before the end of this decade. He is a producer, videographer, still
photographer, and sound recordist with the Cornell Lab’s Multimedia program.
Gerrit spent weeks on the faraway tundra expanse of northeastern Siberia to document
this vanishing species, taking some of the first high-definition videos of the birds
as well as still photographs and sound recordings of them on their breeding grounds.
It was an epic accomplishment, as you can see from the pictures in the article and the
video footage at www.birds.cornell.edu/sbs.
We’re also featuring an essay by raptor biologist Grainger Hunt about
those massive and bizarre swirling flocks of starlings that move amoebalike across the
sky, usually prompted by attacking falcons—which photographer Nick Dunlop has
captured in stunning detail.
Rounding off the features, science editor Gustave Axelson takes us on a tour of
Europe’s largest remaining natural grassland, in Hungary’s Hortobágy National Park,
and looks at the country’s conservation efforts in the post-communist era.
Please let us know what you think of this issue of Living Bird. We always welcome
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