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A little while ago, I posted to The ABA Blog a three-part, behind-the-scenes look at the three feature articles in the September 2011 Birding. (Check it out here, here, and here.)

The comments—36 thus far—have been highly gratifying: thoughtful, intelligent, and indeed influential. Yes, influential. Based on some of the great feedback, we’ve tweaked a few things for the upcoming vol. 44 (2011) of Birding.

But, folks, I got a problem.

All of a sudden, y’all stopped writing letters to the editor! I totally get the immediacy of the e-medium. I’m all for it, and I’m delighted that Birding enjoys a strong online presence these days.

But come on, people, I haven’t received a single letter to the editor since I posted here about the September 2011 issue.

Does it seem like I’m groveling on my hands and knees? Guilty as charged.

But there’s something else.

Letter to the EditorI’d like to state here that I consider letters to the editor to be one of the high points of each issue of Birding. They’re great fun. And they’re important. We call them “Your Letters.” They’re all about you. Your agenda, your ideas and input, your vision for our American Birding Association.

I keep saying it, and I’ll keep on saying it: Our overarching goal, our “prime directive,” for Birding is that it serve as a mouthpiece for the American birding community.

And “Your Letters” is an especially authentic and compelling venue for achieving that goal.

What to write about? Anything! Many letters are responses to recently published articles. But many others are “occasional” contributions—pretty much whatever’s on a member’s mind. Got a question about listing rules? Want to share an insight about reaching out to young birders? Bring it on! Have something to say about politics? Great. Why, we’ll even run your letter about cats. Seriously.

(Oh. I should note that “Your Letters” do not necessarily reflect the opinions or positions of the American Birding Association. Duh. But it’s worth putting that out there every now and then.)

Again, I’m groveling. But, again, there’s something bigger going on here. “Your Letters” are important. And they’re so fun.

Bring ’em on!

P.S. Please send the letters to me via e-mail: [email protected] Don’t post them here.

P.P.S. In your subject line, please type LETTER TO THE EDITOR, just like that, all caps. Thanks! 

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Ted Floyd

Ted Floyd

Editor, Birding magazine at American Birding Association
Ted Floyd is the Editor of Birding magazine, and he is broadly involved in other programs and initiatives of the ABA. He is the author of more than 100 magazine and journal articles, and has written four recent books, including an ABA title, the ABA Guide to Birds of Colorado. Floyd is a frequent speaker at birding festivals and state ornithological society meetings, and he has served on the boards of several nonprofit organizations. Mainly, he listens to birds at night.
Ted Floyd

Latest posts by Ted Floyd (see all)

  • Why not just reprint selected blog comments in Birding, as you would letters to the Editor? Something like, “From the Blog”.

  • Thanks, Greg, for this idea.

    And it brings up the opportunity to remind folks that Birding doesn’t usually accept previously published material. And, yes!, we consider stuff on the internet to have been published.

    With that technicality out of the way, I can say, Greg, that I like your idea. People, if you contributed to the online discussion about the Sept. 2011 Birding, how ’bout reworking your comments for publication in the print magazine?

  • Am working right now on compiling “Your Letters” for the May 2012 issue of Birding magazine. After several lean months, your letters to the editor have come roaring back to life!

    I have a theory.

    Looking back over 10 years of correspondence (yes, I save all of it, even the insane, profane, and otherwise unpublishable stuff), I can tell you that there’s a regular uptick in volume in late winter of each year. Okay, the preceding is a fact. Now as to the theory, I think the annual late-winter pulse of letters is due to birders suffering from cabin fever.

    Well, take heart! Spring migration is upon us! In the meantime, though, if you’re just burning to get some thought of yours into print, please send us a letter to the editor. If you submit within the next six weeks (and if your letter is accepted for publication), we can probably run it in the July 2012 Birding.

    Thanks, everybody, for your excellent contributions to Birding!

  • Ted Floyd

    Thanks to all the folks who contributed so many great letters to the May 2012 Birding. One of the liveliest batches ever…and the July 2012 letters look to be fun too.

    As one member told me, “the letters are the best part [of the May 2012 Birding]!” Well, you be the judge of that. Call the ABA (800-850-2473), join today, and ask to be rushed the May 2012 issue; copies still available.

  • Kurt Radamaker

    I have always prided myself on my birding by ear skills, so I have enjoyed fine tuning the skill and counting heard birds. I even have a ball cap I proudly where out birding that says “Heard Only” on the front and in small lettering on the back says “it counts” I get a lot of comments on it from birders! It is a fun conversation piece. Why I have the hat in the first place is a long story.
    I recently went on an organized bird tour and every night at dinner we did the checklist. I very surprised at how easily a bird went from heard only to seen. In one case we had a very secretive partridge that was constantly calling loudly with a distinctive and impressive voice. We used playback to lure the bird in (so we know the id was correct), but the partridge never left the forest floor and stayed mostly hidden. Most of the group got very brief glimpses of a part of the tail, or head and all of us saw some movement and rustling leaves. While no one saw the bird well enough, not by a long shot, to ID it by sight, the bird was with zero protest entered into the checklist as “seen”.
    My question to this group is, when does a bird go from heard only to seen? One birder I asked told me it only takes one photon!

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