Without a doubt, the greatest joy of editing a magazine like Birder’s World is viewing great photographs of birds.
Taken in locations near and far, in all manner of habitats, under every weather condition, sometimes at great expense, and often after trials of patience, they expand what we know about familiar birds and well-travelled paths and allow us to make the happy acquaintance of species we might otherwise never see, to experience far corners of the world we might never get to visit.
The best bring birds and places to life equally, showcasing the beauty of nature and allowing us viewers the rare thrill of feeling like we were in the photos with the birds. It's a feeling we get all the time from photos taken by Tom Vezo, who died while hiking near his home last week.
You can hardly pick up a book, a calendar, or a nature magazine without seeing his work, so beautiful are his images. (I had the pleasure of collaborating with him on one book, Wings of Spring, as did Contributing Editor Paul Kerlinger. He and Tom created the beautiful 2001 volume Wings in the Wild.)
Longtime readers of this magazine have been viewing Tom’s work for almost two decades. As you can see above, his pictures have appeared on our cover five times, and we had the pleasure of publishing 10 of his photo essays, about visits to Nome, the Dry Tortugas, the Galápagos, and other dream destinations. You might remember his most recent essay -- we named it "Concentration of Color" (below) -- a collection of detailed studies of Neotropical migrants at a South Texas watering hole. It appeared in June 2007.
Indeed, since June 1993, when Tom co-wrote and illustrated an article about making pictures on Machias Seal Island, only a handful of our issues have gone to press without at least one of his photos. (We chose his Elf Owl to illustrate the contents page of our April 2007 issue. It almost landed on Tom's head.) Our October 2008 issue (on newsstands in early September) will be no different; you'll find his portrait of a Rufous Hummingbird on page 41.
Like all the others, it's a beauty. Our gratitude for it and all the others, and for Tom's abundant generosity and great friendship through the years, overshadows our sadness, which is profound. -- C.H.