I Got a Page and a Half!!

I got an email from Ted Floyd this morning. Ted is the editor of “Birding” the American Birding Association’s (ABA) main publication. The email stated:

Hi, Richard.

Just FYI, here is your letter to the editor as it will appear in the imminent January/February 2014 Birding. Thanks for the fine contribution.

Sincerely yours,
Ted Floyd


As you can see from the pictures below, my “long” letter got almost a page and a half of the magazine. I know that’s an exaggeration because of the “Instructions for Contributors” box but give me some slack. The final version in “Birding” has been heavily edited. I guess you could say that it was a collaboration between Ted and I. I will discuss this a little more below.



I know that the pictures are a little fuzzy so here’s the complete text:

The Will to Conserve

In a post last year to The ABA Blog <blog.aba.org/2013/09/the-will-to-conserve.html>, Birding Editor Ted Floyd asked, “Was John Rakestraw’s article [“Most Birds, Least Harm: Ethical and Effective Birding in a Time of Peak Oil, Economic Collapse, and Mass Extinctions,” Birding, July/August 2013, pp. 56–60] effective?” My answer to the effectiveness of John Rakestraw’s bleak article would be a simple “Yes.” 

I share Rakestraw’s concerns for our birds and the planet. I note that Rakestraw’s commentary was penned prior to the release of the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [IPCC] “Assessment Report,” with its findings that “Yes,” climate change is happening, and “Yes,” humans are causing it. The IPCC’s report has been lost in the media’s reporting about the dysfunctional U.S. government. Throw in the distressing “State of the Ocean 2013,” just released by the International Programme on the State of the Ocean, and you get an alarming picture of the planetary havoc we are wreaking.

Now I have a question: Will anyone take it to heart? Will the “cannon-ballers,” twitchers, and Big Year people even consider it? Cherished birding traditions are entrenched; changing our birding conduct and practices will be resisted. I have seen this conflict within the ABA and as well as here in the northern California birding community. Rakestraw’s article and Floyd’s blog post referenced Scott Smithson’s article, “The Green Big Day: Less Driving, More Birding,” pp. 46–52 in the July 2012 Birding. I would have to say that Smithson’s “Green Big Day” was the most thought-provoking article I have ever read in Birding. His article inspired me to look at how I bird. I decided I could cut my carbon output by using the local transportation system, using my bike, and using my feet to bird. I did a Green Big Year using these methods. I wound up with 250 species (no exotics, Ted), added eight new county birds, two of which were lifers, and saved 2,929 carbon-producing motor vehicle miles.

While other bird-related organizations have their statements on conservation and climate change and their effects on bird populations, the ABA has a unique “Code of Birding Ethics.” It starts with these words: “Promote the welfare of birds and their environment.” You should ask your members how they are living up to these standards in this era of higher temperatures, extreme drought, catastrophic flooding, and sea level rise.

In Floyd’s blog post, he directs readers to the front matter (pp. 2 and 4, respectively) in recent issues of Birder’s Guide and Birding. I had to get out my reading glasses to read the small print, and sure enough found the words “the will to conserve” in the ABA’s mission statement— located in a section of the magazine that I’m sure no one reads. Isn’t it time to put THE WILL TO CONSERVE in boldface, capital letters?




Why do I call this a collaboration?

Here is the published version of a key sentence:

“Cherished birding traditions are entrenched; changing our birding conduct and practices will be resisted. I have seen this conflict within the ABA and as well as here in the northern California birding community.”

Here is what I wrote:

“Changes in long held birding practices will be hard to break and I have seen this conflict at ABA and even here in Northern California where I bird.”

Here is the published version:

“Now I have a question: Will anyone take it to heart?”

Here is what I wrote:

My question is–will anyone take it to heart?”

There are other examples like using the word “unique” in reference to the ABA’s ” Code of Birding Ethics”. Paragraphs are moved around. Other things are dropped entirely. 

You can read my original version in my post called “Into the Lion’s Den“.

DO I CARE? I find that I don’t. I have read my original version several times and came to the conclusion (along with several editors I’ve dealt with and maybe some of you readers) that I’m a little wordy when I write these kinds of things. Even the final version is somewhat wordy. I find that the soon to be published letter gets all the points I wanted to say—said. That’s all that matters to me. Let me know what you think.

This will be my second publication for the month. My article in our little Wood’s Newsletter went out on the first of this month.  



2 thoughts on “I Got a Page and a Half!!

  1. Richard, I think it is fantastic that “your” letter has been published in Birding magazine. It conveys the message you wish to communicate, and it is a tribute to what you have accomplished in the past year. I say “Bravo”!

  2. It Was in the Mail Box Today – greenbirdingmendo

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