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Redpolls, Lapwings, & Sparrows: Check out the latest North American Birds!

Why subscribe to North American Birds? Good question!

The answer, for decades, has been: To stay abreast of changes in bird distribution across North America. But what exactly does that mean in the twenty-first century?

In the past decade, with the flourishing of internet-based bird resources of so many kinds, some have worried that the the instant news of rare birds we receive via iPads, iPhones, and myriad other glitzy devices would make the journal obsolete. How could a quarterly publication even compare?

It's true that North American Birds does not offer instant information. The journal offers a different sort of information altogether: an overview of what just happened in the preceding season, with summary and analysis on both the regional and the continental levels.  

Unlike the internet's scattered bird material, some of it excellent, some fanciful, North American Birds, for nearly a century, has presented solid information from the continent's sharpest teams of birders and ornithologists. With historical context, new insights, and even a little well-grounded speculation, the journal offers a combination found nowhere else in the birding or ornithological worlds. 

In the economic climate of the past five years, many of us have cut our expenses down to the most essential. Perhaps you’re one of the people who now travels a bit less for birding, concentrating more on local and regional birds. And maybe you’ve found that there are as many fascinating, unanswered questions about birds in your area as there are in some of the places you’ve traveled.

If you're one of the thousands of birders hoping to learn more about what's going on with our birds, North American Birds will provide abundant food for thought—about patterns of bird distribution related to weather systems, climate, and habitat changes, as well as those patterns whose causes are both unknown and uninvestigated. You’ll be able to apply the lessons (and questions) from others in your area and from other regions to your own birding—making that transition from good birder to great, not just learning but also identifying the many gaps in our understanding of birds.

As evidence for these outlandish claims, and to whet your appetite to subscribe, we offer links to three items in our latest issue   

Four redpolls visit Ontario

Subspecies of Nelson’s and Saltmarsh Sparrows

The Changing Seasons: Escapes

The last item, an essay we offer with each issue, covers a diversity of topics in winter 2010-2011, from Northern Lapwings and other European vagrants in eastern Canada, to the flight of Dovekies, to Greater Ani, Ross’s Gulls, and Black-vented Oriole. There is eye candy, yes, but there is careful pondering in these pages, too. (Put them on your iPad and zoom in on those photos and graphics—gorgeous and informative? yes! boring? nope!)

If you’re someone who wants to go beyond the field guides, pondering hybrids and subspecies, or to figure out what a cold front, tropical storm, or blizzard might bring to your part of the continent, or to predict the best time to visit Newfoundland to look for European birds, then four times a year, we have a treasure trove for you, with plenty to keep you busily honing your strategies for birding in your backyard and beyond, for redpolls or alcids, warblers or tropicbirds. We cover not just the ABA Area—we cover the entire AOU Area, almost 2100 species!

The journal’s offerings change from issue to issue, but they are consistently topical and thoughtful and on the cutting edge of what is known about bird distribution and identification. As Hurricane Irene approached the East Coast two months ago, hundreds of birders rushed for their back issues of North American Birds, for clues as to what they might expect from the storm. They were glad to have the benefit of many decades of thinking about this dramatic phenomenon, witnessed for the first time on such a scale in over 70 years in the New York, New Jersey, and southern New England. Their preparation produced hundreds of amazing bird records. Curious about Irene’s birds?  Tune in to the fall 2011 issue, already in preparation! 

Happy birding,

Ned Brinkley, editor

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Ned Brinkley

Ned Brinkley

Ned Brinkley has edited North American Birds, ABA's journal of ornithology, full time since 2001 and contributed over 120 articles to birding journals and magazines since 1982. He started birding at age six in southeastern Virginia, with the Great Dismal Swamp and the Gulf Stream being perennial favorite patches. In the subsequent 40 years, he has birded and led birding tours on five continents, taught European literature and film at the University of Virginia, opened a birding bed-and-breakfast inn on Virginia's Eastern Shore, participated in research projects on seabirds, and written a few books, including Virginia's Birdlife: An Annotated Checklist (with Steve Rottenborn), The National Wildlife Federation Field Guide to Birds of North America, and a children's book on birds in the Reader's Digest Pathfinders series.
  • I would love to support ABA, but do not want to receive a paper journal, would prefer to read articles online. Is this possible. BTW. The link to join above leads to a 404 page.

  • I would second Ali Sheehey’s position but would also be happy with downloadable journals.

  • Thanks for the head’s up on the join link. We’ll get that figured out.

  • Andy Birch

    I also agree that an online version would make me subscribe to get this and ABA’s Birding and Winging It. I don’t want any more paper. I think you’d see an increase in subscriptions, get more overseas subscribers and cut your costs on printing and distribution.

  • I love rummaging through my “hard copies” of NAB, but I have to admit that that journal (and its predecessors) has never survived one of our moves: I always box ’em up and give them to friends or libraries (most of the latter don’t want them, either, but they can sell them at book sales). So it was a huge relief to me when NAB went over to SORA. I’d love to have the option of getting immediate access to digital copies of the current issues and forgo the paper copies.
    Perhaps a first step would be to continue printing the essays and articles and moving all of the regional reports on line.

  • Lowell Young

    Personally, I agree with Rick Wright. You can also take “hard copies” to places where you are unable to access the internet. I find it odd that people would support the ABA if they had online publications only. Me, I support the ABA because it is the right thing to do.

  • What is the per member cost of printing and mailing ABA publications? I too support the option of paperless subscriptions – is there a good reason not to make this available ABA members?

  • I had been an ABA member for years, but stopped BECAUSE of too many piles of magazines. I love them so don’t throw them out, but can’t find what I need when I want it. I need less clutter not more, so I had to make a sad choice.

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