Thursday, March 29, 2012

Sports Illustrated - Bird what?!

With all of the intricate conservation work and complex biology we have focused on in the last month, I had to post this to give everyone a little break. I am an enormous sports fan, and I was flummoxed by a stupendous tweet on Tuesday. It featured one of the craziest magazine covers I can remember and left me with many vexing questions.

It was tweeted by Andy Gray of the Sports Illustrated Vault, their online archive. He said:

Once upon a time (1955), SI costs 25 cents and promoted Bird Watching on the cover. Times have changed:

Which is a link to this photo...

Really? First of all, I thought birding was more popular than ever, and secondly, I am wondering where the split came in here, from bird watching as a nationally revered sport to something nerdy tree huggers do (it may be improving somewhat in the last few years, but the general perception is not far from that). Is this really how birding was viewed 60 years ago, on par with Yogi Berra, and or was this an anomaly? Most of my questions were answered by browsing through some of the other SI magazines from 1955 as they featured everything including fishing, sailing and rowing, horses, dogs, diving, hunting, archery, and even how to climb the Matterhorn, apart from the expected baseball, football, tennis, and so forth.

Still, they did a wonderful job on that cover - can you identify all of the birds depicted? Here is a link to the issue in question and here is one to the key for the birds, 60 in all. Now if only they could get that sort of attention today in SI...

Scott Kruitbosch
Conservation Technician


  1. Great post, I'd love a copy of that cover.

  2. Very cool. I had no idea that the magazine had broader roots!

  3. Can you include the name of the artist who did this beautiful illustration? I would love to know who created this image. Thank you

  4. I would if I knew! Maybe it is somewhere on the SI site

  5. The artist who created this cover is Arthur Singer, illustrator of - among many other things - the 'Golden Guides' to birds. The original cover painting is currently on exhibit at the Roger Tory Peterson Institute in Jamestwon, New York (

  6. We now have an answer to who drew the cover, Arthur Singer. Thanks to the Roger Tory Peterson Institute and their new President, Twan Leenders, for identifying the artist because they have the very piece in their collection!