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February 2022

Vol.50, No. 1

Letter from the Editor

Marcia C. Salett

Welcome to Volume 50 of Bird Observer. We are celebrating our fiftieth anniversary year throughout 2022 with this volume of our journal. Other organizations might have waited until February 2023, the fiftieth anniversary of Volume 1, Number 1, in 1973. Not us. We cannot wait to highlight the success of our journal that, since its inception, has been produced entirely by an all-volunteer staff and supported by a volunteer board of directors.

Below is the masthead for the inaugural 1973 issue of Bird Observer of Eastern Massachusetts with Paula Butler at the helm. Compare it to our masthead on page 4 to see how staffing the journal has changed to reflect today’s times.

How many volunteers have worked on Bird Observer in the past 50 years? We will answer that question in a later issue. Indeed, we will be featuring articles about Bird Observer in all six of our 2022 issues starting in this issue with “Bird Observer Turns 50: Reflections of the Editors.”

As exciting as our fiftieth year is, we have been completely upstaged by the birding phenomenon of a Steller’s Sea-Eagle that showed up in Dighton, Massachusetts, in December 2021, for the first Massachusetts state record of this mega-rare bird from northeast coastal Asia. On December 30, the eagle showed up in Georgetown, Maine, for the first state record there, too. The latest sighting of the eagle before we went to press was in Boothbay Harbor, Maine.

The last such mega-rarity in Massachusetts turned up during the summer of 2004 with the first New World appearance of a Red-footed Falcon on Martha’s Vineyard. Bird Observer devoted the entire December 2004 issue to the falcon, including our only cover in full color.

We are delighted to put the Steller’s Sea-Eagle on the February 2022 cover and devote half the issue to this magnificent bird with an article written by Lisa Schibley and Marshall Iliff.. We could not have pulled this off without them. Lisa organized the outline and reached out to other birders for copy and photos. Marshall synthesized the data, provided photos from eBird, obtained permissions, and shared his experience of seeing the eagle in Dighton. Special thanks to Doug Hitchcox of Maine Audubon for writing the Maine segment in under 24 hours. It was an exceptional and adrenalin-fueled accomplishment, given the holidays and tight deadline.

We hope you enjoy this special issue.


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