“It had taken me 50 years of my life and 8,000 miles of travel to find some kin who love the spring migration of birds as much as I do,” writes Gary Nabhan (“Washing Away War”) about his trip to Lebanon after the “July War” in 2006. “Now we were walking arm in arm around a rather heavenly habitat for herons and hawks that six months earlier had looked, sounded, and smelled like hell.” As Audubon went to press, peace had returned once again to Lebanon, after the worst bloodshed there in almost two decades.
I considered delaying publication of this essay but decided it assumed even more poignancy now. When you read Nabhan’s rich prose and look at Jiro Ose’s vivid photos, you’ll surely yearn to venture there as much as I do, to marvel at one of the cradles of civilization and nature—one day soon, I hope.
For as Susan McGrath notes about another part of the world, “The best way to bolster conservation in Belize is wonderfully painless: save up your pennies and take a holiday there.” In “A Tale of Two Habitats” McGrath reports from the Central American winter stronghold for wood thrushes and 200 other embattled common migratory songbirds. As part of our two-part package, longtime Field Editor Frank Graham reconnoitered breeding habitat in Vermont. The idea for exploring the wood thrush and its habitat at both ends of its twice-yearly migration sprang from discussions with Craig Lee, director of Audubon’s International Alliances Program. “The wood thrush symbolizes species that have dropped almost in half over the past 40 years,” he says. “We need to be protecting vulnerable treasures of biodiversity.”
While tracing the loss of the thrush’s woodlands, McGrath and Graham raise some hope through creative solutions in the north and south. In her eloquent introduction to the package she oversaw, Senior Editor Rene Ebersole writes of the wood thrush, “A spring walk in the woods without hearing its tranquil trill would be like a day at the beach without the soothing sound of the surf. Yet [McGrath and Graham] also find reassurance from the people they meet along the way who are determined that our woods won’t fall silent anytime soon.”
Last, a request: According to a recent government study, each year there are an estimated one billion “visits” to our nation’s 9,000-plus public libraries. As a faithful Audubon reader, please spread the word and ask your local library to carry us. For more information, check out our ad on page 89 of the print edition.