"Our" Great Gray Owl, near Kelly, Wyoming Dec 24, 2011
Dear ABA Members,
Greetings from cold, sunny, and beautiful Livingston, Montana!
Liz and I have been on a weeklong trip to the Greater Yellowstone region of Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho. Our primary purpose in making the journey was to attend the wedding of our longtime friend, Forrest Rowland, who many of you know as one of the most talented young leaders of our birding community, to the lovely Gabryelle Perkins. And the wedding, which took place Saturday the 29th, was truly beautiful. Seeing friends and families old and new come together in an atmosphere of renewed hope and possibility was a perfect way to close out 2012 and to look to a bright future in 2013 and beyond.
Of course, Liz and I managed to work in some birding, too, as did many of the wedding guests.
Especially memorable was our encounter with a Great Gray Owl—Liz's first!—on Christmas Eve morning near Grand Tetons National Park. Having just reached that point in our morning when we, after hours of searching, had made peace with the idea that we weren't going to find the owl this time out and that we ought to start thinking about procuring some lunch, Liz said, with some emphasis, "STOP! I see it!"
Standing there, in the falling snow, regarding that magnificent creature in the harsh environment to which it is so superbly adapted, was a magical experience. And it was just one high point.
There were many others, like watching Bohemian Waxwings bathe and drink as they surfed on tiny ice floes in the partly-frozen Yellowstone river. Or seeing clouds of Gray-crowned Rosy-Finches, Common Redpolls, Snow Buntings and Horned Larks sweeping over the frozen fields.
Gray-crowned Rosy-Finches in flight.
And there were encounters with moose, bison, elk, bighorn sheep, and, most thrillingly, wolves. And gorgeous scenery, friendly people, even a soak in a hot springs pool under a big brilliant moon.
And the thought that has reapeated in my head time and again as we've shared all these wonderful things is this: none of this would have happened to us, had we not been birders.
Of course, even non-birders do things like visiting interesting places, enjoying beautiful scenery, and watching their loved ones get married. But if Liz and I were not birders, though we might have experienced some of the same things we have this week, almost all of them would have been very, very different. Different places. Different scenery. Different friends, even. Being birders has changed everything for the better. And that's true whether we're visiting some far-flung, wild place or just looking out our living room window.
As 2012 ends, I hope that you are having just these kinds of experiences, at home or far afield. That in the short days and long nights of winter, you're still enjoying a world of excitement and rich experience that only those of us who have received the gift of birding are privy to.
On the last day of 2011, I wrote here on the blog, "2012 is going to be a very exciting year at the ABA, when a lot of the seeds that we’ve been planting and carefully tending start to really take root. So while it’s nice to look back over the many good times and successes that we’ve enjoyed in 2011, it’s even more exciting looking to the future. And that is thanks to all of you."
With 2012 completed, it feels wonderful to say that we have indeed had a very successful year indeed here at the ABA, and that our prospects for 2013 are even brighter and more exciting.
And still, it is thanks to you. Thank you for everything you do to support the ABA and to spread the joy and excitement of birding with others.
If you've made a gift to our annual appeal, please know that you've made a crucial difference in our ability to keep the ABA strong and growing. If you haven't yet, there are still a few hours to do so and receive 2012 tax benefits. All online donations made today or mailed donations postmarked today qualify.
Tonight, however you choose to celebrate the arrival of the new year, take a moment with me and be grateful that we all are birders and for the wonderful difference that has made in our lives.
Have a wonderful 2013. Again, thank you.
Jeffrey A. Gordon