BirdLife: The Magazine June 2017 - Page 2

EDITORIAL Together we are BirdLife International Partnership for nature and people THE SEASON OF LOVE No matter how vast the skies you roam, how endless the oceans you swim, how many air-miles and meetings and working hours in your day, there comes a time in life when you need specific conditions: abundant food, a limited amount of predators… and some peace. It’s the season of love, the time of mating, reproducing and raising your offspring. Even the tireless wanderers of the skies and the seas, used to a life on the move, will stop for their nest. It is the case with albatrosses, which wander the oceans alone throughout the year, only returning to land in the breeding season, to reu- nite with their life-long part- ner. Safety of the chicks is the reason why seabirds choose to nest on breathtaking cliffs. The Brown Pelicans on the Louisiana flag (the first bird I could relate to closely, thanks to Audubon’s rescue pro- gramme in the Gulf of Mexico in 2011, during the Deepwater Horizon disaster) stop in the marshes to mate and raise their chicks. Sheltered by thick vegetation, surrounded by an infinite choice of fish pond restaurants, the pelican family can prosper and take the break needed for the chicks to grow, flap their brand new wings and, eventually, be recruited to their flock. Even some pelagic fish, who spend their lives diving the infinity of the oceans, will return to reproduce in overcrowded coral reefs, where the cracks and crevices, the spikes and rocky branches of the coral forest provide shelter to the little ones. That very natural, and yet so special, season of life is as natu- ral as is extraordinarily fragile. It often requires several factors to coincide to reach the perfect circumstances for success- ful child rearing. Unfortunately, we seem to do our best to destroy those special conditions and their breeding grounds. These places, these “love retreats”, are incredibly delicate. For some, like the flamingos in Lake Natron (p. 36), it’s about pro- tection from destructive economic activity. For others, like the stork Klepetan (p. 28), the challenge is to not be killed during the yearly migration. And for the petrels in Rapa Iti (p. 45) it is about surviving invasive alien species. For most birds, “saving the nest” means sav- © MARC GUYT/AGAMI ing the life itself of an entire species. It’s certainly the case of our elusive friend Pato, the Beck’s Petrel we’ve finally tagged (p. 32). To spice things up, in this issue we’ve also embarked upon a journey to explore the courting rituals and mating practices of some amazing birds. We’ve done so to ren- der justice, once again, to the incredible variety of the avian universe. If you thought that all the kinky (including the very darkest) variations on the sex theme were a peculiarity of the human race, think again. Monogamy, polygamy, polyandry, group sex, rape, pathological liars, multiple paternity… all are features of birds’ sex lives. Enjoy. P.S. Sadly, this is the last issue of the magazine for me. I leave this gorgeous baby of mine in the capable hands of my col- leagues who, fear not, will keep surprising you with great sto- ries from the BirdLife universe. It has been an honor. Luca Bonaccorsi Chief Editor BirdLife International BirdLife International is the world’s largest nature conservation partnership. Through our unique local-to-global approach, we deliver high impact and long-term conservation for the benefit of nature and people JUNE 2017 • BIRDLIFE 3