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From the Editor

article spread
by Tim Gallagher

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 your comments. Our contact information is in the sidebar.

Tim Gallagher

Living Bird Magazine

Winter 2013

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