Audubon Magazine Summer 2020

Audubon is the official magazine of the National Audubon Society. Get Audubon Magazine digital magazine subscription today for news coverage of the natural world. We help our readers appreciate, understand, and protect the environment with a particular focus on birds, other wildlife and their habitats

United States
National Audubon Society
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3 min
the life aquatic

The cold, fast-flowing streams of the West are home to the American Dipper, North America’s only truly aquatic songbird. Dippers first caught Michael Forsberg’s attention as a child, when his family would vacation in the Colorado mountains to escape the heat and humidity of Nebraska summers. The young angler occasionally spotted chunky little gray birds that bobbed up and down on rocks, dove into the water, and resurfaced with insects in their beaks. Now a professional photographer, Forsberg returned to the streams of his childhood over four years to document the dippers’ life cycle. “I call them a trout with feathers because they eat the same things,” he says, “and they are remarkable underwater.” Through the project he’s gained a deep appreciation for the resilient birds and their role as…

2 min
a season of change

FOR EVERY BIRDER NAVIGATING an unthinkable spring—one shaped by astonishing change and unspeakable loss—a quiet, constant salve was the familiar spectacle of migration. People suffered and died, yet new birdsong rang out. Job losses mounted, while warblers rained down. Zoom fatigue set in, but nests flourished. Our staff strove to hold these dual realities. In early March we created a page on called “The Joy of Birds” that collected our most diverting content and useful tips. We then set out to do substantive reporting, chronicling the changes COVID-19 wrought for conservation, avian science, and birding economies, and the political cover it provided for ongoing deregulation. We also created space for writers and photographers to explore how the pandemic shaped their experiences. (You’ll see them quoted along the bottom of Field Notes.)…

3 min
vote your audubon values

IT’S MID-JUNE, AND I’M WRITING this column for the third time in as many weeks. My first draft covered the surge of interest in birds and nature in the early months of COVID-19. My second draft addressed a racist incident in Central Park in which a white woman called the police on Christian Cooper, a Black man and New York City Audubon board member, who was simply out birding during spring migration. No sooner had I finished that draft when the country erupted in agony and righteous fury over the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers—and the murder of many others at the hands of law enforcement across the country. And so now here we are, two weeks into collective action to demand justice for Floyd and for all…

3 min

Tap Your Bird Brain Every year the entries to our Audubon Photography Awards are brimming with wildly entertaining bird photos. So much so that sometimes we ask ourselves, “What is that bird thinking?” Well, now we’re asking you exactly that! The above photo of two tangled Piping Plover chicks and their parent is just begging for a caption. Please email your submission to the magazine inbox for a chance to have it featured in the fall issue. Spring 2020 I finished the Spring issue and was shocked by two articles [“Death Spiral” and “Ten Years Later.”]. How are we letting carbofuran still be used? And how is there an abandoned well that has been leaking for close to 15 years? I’m happy to hear wildlife officers are catching and prosecuting people killing…

5 min
a birding season lost—and gained

THE TOLL OF THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC is hard to count and even harder to comprehend. Each death is uniquely tragic, and every mourner’s pain adds up. Millions of essential workers, struggling caregivers, and people who have lost their income grapple with hardship. And who among us hasn’t felt the burden of fear and uncertainty? Amid all of this, Audubon’s focus on birds and their well-being might feel like a luxury. It’s not. As this special report shows, birds provide jobs, solace, and points of connection with a planet that is suffering. Protecting their world—and ours—is more important than ever. TO THE LIST OF THINGS MANY OF US TOOK FOR GRANTED just months ago—watching sports, dining out, embracing friends—add spring migration. One of birding’s greatest gifts is the chance to surf this…

1 min
essential workers for birds

Bird Rehab: Working with a skeleton crew, staff at the Wild Bird Fund, a wildlife rehabilitation center in New York City, showed up in staggered shifts to limit contact with one another. “The days are exhausting,” says animal care manager Phyllis Tseng. Still, she knew her patients—which recently included an American Woodcock that collided with a building and four Northern Gannets—needed them. Captive Care: With fewer than 700 Whooping Cranes left in the wild, safeguarding the 159 birds in captivity is crucial to the species’ recovery. Birdkeeper Chris Crowe stayed busy feeding the cranes and keeping their facilities clean at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute. He also fulfilled another essential duty: artificially inseminating one of the cranes. If all goes well, her chicks will join the 71 wild Whoopers in Wisconsin…