At Audubon, we live for the seasons. You notice it each issue in Earth Almanac which Ted Williams, with research help from contributing editor Connie Isbell, has been writing since 1997. In our November-December issue, Ted transports you outside and into the late-autumn chill beneath a flock of barking tundra swans during their migration: “Look up and you may see their V formation silhouetted against sun or moon, sometimes a mile high and, if there’s a strong north wind, moving at close to 100 miles per hour.” On the same page, wintry photos selected by our crack art team of design director Kevin Fisher, photo editor Kim Hubbard, and designer Todd Standley, including a shot of a hunting red fox diving headfirst into a snowbank, immediately put you in a December mood.
This issue should arrive in your mailbox just in time for Halloween, and we’ve taken the opportunity to note the hundreds of black vultures congregating in northern Virginia—sliming trees, homes, and gravestones with their excrement (“There Goes the Neighborhood”). These scavengers, nature’s cleanup crews and disease control specialists, are exploiting our increasingly urbanized landscape and challenging wildlife officials and residents to find a way to peacefully coexist. “I offer a silent resolution,” T. Edward Nickens writes. “Should these innocuous, if putrid, transplants ever come toting their trashy belongings onto my street, I’ll be resolved to offer them a neighborly wave of respect—from a healthy distance upwind.” November also marks the end of migratory season, during which, tragically, millions of birds slam into buildings. Associate editor Julie Leibach documents, in rich detail, “a growing trend toward environmentally responsible building [that] holds promise, as bird advocates, conservationists, and architects tout what they consider a vital sustainable design concept: bird safety” (“Pain in the Glass”). At the same time, in Audubon Living, ornithologist and author Steve Kress offers tips on preventing window collisions and turning your yard into a safe haven for birds.
In keeping with the holiday spirit, writer Nancy Bazilchuk and her family embark on a cross-country ski quest, with photographer Per Breiehagen in tow, to see wild mountain reindeer in Norway, the only European country that still has them (“Snow Patrol”), even as climate change and other pressures cloud their future. “We’ve fought our way through blinding snow, numbing cold, and biting wind to reach this spot, the realm of polar explorers and wild reindeer,” she writes at her trip’s pinnacle, “and the feeling is magic.” So, too, is the feeling from reveling in nature’s seasons.—David Seideman
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