(editor'snote)


Audubon's talent pool runs deep, owing to three outside contributors: editor-at-large Ted Williams, field editor Kenn Kaufman, and National Audubon's departing science director, Frank Gill. They all have done much to enrich our pages, and they all have books out you should know about.

When baseball legend Ted Williams was alive, people were sometimes disappointed upon meeting Audubon's Ted Williams that the two men were not one and the same. The two Teds shared many passions besides fly-fishing: a single-minded pursuit of perfection and a fearlessness of their foes. (On a trip they once took together for a fishing article, Red Sox Ted told his counterpart that a "fan" went away unhappy after realizing he was not Audubon Ted.) Pity the corrupt developer or the politician in his pocket who rouses the ire of Audubon Ted. But his ferocity belies a sensitive side he displays when bringing nature to life in his Incite and Earth Almanac columns—comparing, in this issue, a northern saw-whet owl on a moonlit autumn night to a "bright-eyed goblin." Wild Moments (Storey Publishing), a collection of Ted's Earth Almanac columns, will appear this fall.

If you're impressed by the quality of our bird stories and their accuracy, much of the credit goes to Kenn Kaufman, whose name is synonymous with the best in birding and field guides. Virtually all bird content must pass his muster, or it doesn't fly. Kenn's boundless curiosity has inspired an important new field guide, Mammals of North America (Houghton Mifflin), which describes every species of mammal found on this continent north of Mexico, including those offshore. The guide's 1,200 images are invaluable for identifying everything from the alpine chipmunk to the bottlenose dolphin.

Frank Gill, who will continue as Audubon's senior ornithologist, is updating his textbook, Ornithology (W. H. Freeman), which is required reading in most college ornithology courses. Frank has suggested many original bird stories, including "Clear & Present Danger" (March), about the problem of birds colliding with buildings. It was his idea to create this issue's State of the Birds pullout, drawing on the work of his crack science team. This report, dramatically designed by Audubon's art team, sends an often chilling message.

Not many people experience the intimations of immortality writers can achieve by publishing books that will endure long after they're gone—unless they happen to be conservationists who also leave the world a better place. Ted, Kenn, and Frank succeed on both counts.

© 2004 National Audubon Society

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