Sunday, October 29, 2006

A New Birder's World

The magazine Birder's World is celebrating its 20th anniversary, and its editors have redesigned the layout in honor of the celebration. Since I am new to Birder's World, I cannot compare the new design to the old one. However, it is clean and attractive, and information is easy to find. The regular features are all present - reader questions, birding news, columns on bird identification and biology, and book reviews. The Northern Hawk Owl on the cover commands attention. One feature, "Hotspots Near You," which highlights small county and state parks in urban areas, included a D.C.-area site, Huntley Meadows.

As part of its 20th anniversary celebration, a Birder's World staffer made a trip around North America (i.e., the ABA area) to find the 20 most wanted birds, as voted by Birder's World's readership. Here is the list of species:

  1. Ivory-billed Woodpecker
  2. Painted Bunting
  3. Snowy Owl
  4. California Condor
  5. Whooping Crane
  6. Great Gray Owl
  7. Atlantic Puffin
  8. Elf Owl
  9. Violet-crowned Hummingbird
  10. Magnificent Hummingbird
  11. Elegant Trogon
  12. Gyrfalcon
  13. Bohemian Waxwing
  14. Arctic Loon
  15. Horned Puffin
  16. Red-cockaded Woodpecker
  17. Kirtland's Warbler
  18. Harlequin Duck
  19. Northern Hawk Owl
  20. Blue-throated Hummingbird
Others have picked nits with other aspects of the list. It is not the list I would have created, but I would love to see all of the birds listed there. The first species seemed the most out of place to me. For all but a tiny group of researchers, the ivory-billed woodpecker that leads the list is largely hypothetical. All other species can definitely be seen, even if with difficulty in some cases. I have seen two of these birds, snowy owl and harlequin duck.

Another 20th anniversary feature was a retrospective album of photographs from past issues. It has some great ones, such as a brooding killdeer that appears to have multiple legs and a Thayer's Gull with a sea star hanging out of its bill. The magazine includes a section of reader-submitted photographs in each issue. Some of these are quite striking as well, especially one of a turkey in flight.

Overall, the magazine seems geared to an intermediate birding audience. The articles assume some knowledge, such as what "lores" are. In contrast to the American Birding Association's Birding, however, Birder's World deals with problems that are more likely to face the average birder. Birding sometimes seems more suited to people who travel constantly to remote locations, while Birder's World seems like it could appeal to travelers and non-travelers.

The Birder's World website includes a forum for birders. It is fairly modest in membership compared to BirdForum, but seems to have a heavier proportion of North American birders.