When we came up with the idea for a series of photo-driven stories that capture the vast range of inspiring ways that people’s passion for birds comes to life, we knew we’d struck gold. What better nexus could there be to train our photographers’ lenses upon than the intersection of birds and the people who care about them? That, after all, is the place where the Audubon Society and our members are most at home. On an oddly pragmatic level, we were also looking to create something that would entice us to be happy: More frequently than we’d like here at Audubon, we find ourselves drawn to stories that reflect our world in all of its darker shadings (climate change, habitat destruction, greed-driven despoliation). I make no apologies for that, but I also recognize that gazing with no reprieve into the darkness is a recipe for demoralization and defeat, and there are certainly just as many or more positive stories in and around our world as there are distressing ones. Our “Flock Together” series, which made its debut last issue and which we’ve just launched big online, is one way of ensuring that we highlight those stories, that we spend enough time in the light.
If you’ve paged through the magazine from the front cover to arrive at these words, you’ve already experienced tantalizing tastes of three such stories, which we’ve served up as this issue’s visual greeting. I think the mix does a nice job of representing what we’re trying to get at with Flock Together. We meet Dalaikhan Itale, a hunter in the Altai Mountains of Mongolia, whose weapon is Golden Eagles, which he began training when he was 13; Nicole Castaneda, a dedicated volunteer feeding berries to American Robin fledglings at the Sharon Audubon Center in Connecticut; and Chris Parish, whose Arizona-based crew captured 70 California Condors last year, ultimately treating 20 of them for lead poisoning before releasing them. That, in fact, is the beautiful, nearly subliminal moment that unites these three hugely varied tales: the release of the birds back to the wild, and the fostering of their ability to survive and thrive there. If this series of single shots has whet your appetite for more, I beseech you to head to audubon.org/flock-together to see full galleries for each of these stories, plus many more that you haven’t seen in the magazine.
And if you know of other great tales of people and their gloriously unique interactions with the birds they love, we want to hear about them. Just shoot us a note (and a photo, if possible) to firstname.lastname@example.org. Help us keep the inspiration coming.