Here’s a trivia question for all of our
readers: What do Mercury astronaut
John Glenn and Living Bird
have in common?
Give up? They both launched in 1962—Glenn circling
the planet three times, becoming the first American
in orbit, and Living Bird beginning its first half century
of publishing articles, photographs, and illustrations
Yes, it’s been 50 years since these earth-shaking
events took place, and we’re happy to say that John
Glenn and Living Bird are still going strong. To celebrate
this rare occasion, I decided to browse through the old
issues and talk with everyone I could find who remembered what it was like in the early days of this publication. The fact that I’ve been editor
of Living Bird for 21 of the past 50 years made it a little easier, but it was still an enlightening experience. I now see that even though the
publication was more of a scientific journal for its first 20 years and came out only once a year, it was always aimed at bridging the divide
between the scientist and the bird enthusiast—a journal that “neither writes down to the amateur ornithologist nor writes up to the professional
ornithologist,” as former Lab of Ornithology director and first Living Bird editor Olin Sewall Pettingill, Jr., wrote. It was written “for all educated
persons in understandable and readable language while sacrificing nothing whatsoever in substance.” That is still our aim.
To learn more about the history of Living Bird, we invite you to read “Half a Century and Counting,” on page 10 of this issue.
—Tim Gallagher, Editor-in-Chief