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Announcing “Celebrations” – a new name for a well-loved column

In your April issue of Birding, you may notice that some changes are afoot. One of those changes is mine to explain. Starting in this issue, “Milestones” will now be called “Celebrations.” Don’t worry; “Celebrations” will have the same great content as always. In fact, this change was inspired by that great content, and how it has changed in the last three years.

When I joined “Milestones,” most of the submissions looked pretty similar. Birders kept their entries short and sweet, including only the necessary details of what the milestone was, what the bird was, and when and where they saw it. Few people submitted photos to accompany their stories. The vast majority highlighted the number of birds on their life list.

In 2019, I still receive plenty of submissions like this, and I love them all. However, I have noticed some evolutions, in three main flavors:
  1. Some contributors want to include more details about their milestone.
  2. People want to include other media, like photos, spectrograms, checklists, and blog posts.
  3. Birders want to acknowledge all kinds of achievements, not just the number of species on their life list.
Let me be clear: I’m thrilled by every single submission that I receive. If you want to send me a two-sentence summary of your 1,000th world bird, please do. I’ll congratulate you and publish it with no hesitation. This is not meant as a deterrent for those stories. Instead, this is meant as an expansion, to fit in all of the beautiful moments that birders want to celebrate.
What kinds of moments do we experience as birders and bird-lovers? You might want to celebrate seeing your nemesis bird, even though it landed on an odd number for your ABA Area list. You may want to celebrate taking your kids, or spouse, or parents on their first birding trip. Or maybe you want to celebrate your 100th taxonomic family, or your 65th birthday, or your 30th anniversary of birding, or your 5,000th eBird checklist. Beyond the text of your stories, you might want to publish media like your photos, or website, or audio recordings.

These stories are beyond the traditional scope of “Milestones.” So, let’s expand the scope. Let’s celebrate more than your life list. Let’s celebrate all of those remarkable moments that make birding infinitely enjoyable, and let’s share the details that make your memory come to life.

In the April issue, you’ll see three examples of out-of-the-box celebrations from members of the Birding team. Ted Floyd tells us about a wild bird that delighted his family during its months-long stay in his backyard. Frank Izaguirre celebrates a few eBird checklists with a mathematical twist. And I share the story of releasing a rehabilitated rail back into the wild with my partner.

What moment do you want to celebrate? Feel free to share in the comments below. When you’re ready to publish your story, send me an email. Please keep in mind that your entry should be around 100 words, although shorter entries are fine, and we don’t have a strict upper word limit. We prize entries that are efficiently and briefly written. In your entry, ask yourself: what details do you want to share? Are there any photographs or other media that you want to include? Send them on over, and let’s work together to create something beautiful.
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