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The new North American Birds takes flight!

North American Birds has begun a metamorphosis!

Starting with the next volume (67), the journal will be paperless—that is, an electronic journal, like so many familiar publications in the world of ornithology already are.

Though many of us—your editorial group included—will miss the feel of paper in the hand, and all the pleasures and memories that come with it, we recognize that paper publications like ours are critically endangered. With the digital revolution, reading practices are changing rapidly, and the rapid movement away from paper has had stark economic impacts on enterprises like the North American Birds tradition. Not just reading itself, indeed, the circulation of information has changed radically, which also affects our tradition. In decades past, many readers have looked to the journal for information of a particular kind, and some of that information (raw data) can be located in more timely fashion, indeed almost instantaneously, online in this new century. Much of the analysis the journal provides, of course, cannot be found online, at least not yet.

The reinvented North American Birds moves into a new environment, then, attempting to retain what has been most valuable to readers while shedding what is less relevant, necessary, or desirable.

We won’t be catapulting into a format that is unrecognizable to our readers. For the foreseeable future, North American Birds will have its core components—the regional reports, Changing Seasons, Pictorial Highlights, feature articles, Photo Essays, Photo Salons, Birding Journals—but all material will be presented in full color, including regional maps. The journal will be downloaded by subscribers, using a passcode, to personal computers (or other devices), and so will be searchable and portable. Subscription rates will be lower, to reflect the savings on printing, paper, and postage. We will still function as a real publication: with page numbers, peer review, and careful attention to accurate reporting (not always
the case with online content!). But in the future, we will likely incorporate hyperlinks, videos, and interactive material, as we learn to work with the software chosen to publish the journal electronically.

NAB 66-3 cover

For the current issue, we have provided both subscribers and nonsubscribers a chance to practice downloading an issue in full color (you can also browse the issue at this site, but we suggest first learning how to download a pdf, if that is a new experience). We should note that this is not how we will furnish the issue to subscribers in the future—this is just our current press providing a site for people to see and download a  full-color version of Volume 66, No. 3. Also, this is not how Volume 67 will appear; subscribers will need to wait a bit longer to see all the bells and whistles. This is just an opportunity to learn how to download content from the web.

To download the current issue in color, go to:

Click image of the cover with rosy-finch.

On the navigation bar at the top, put cursor over the third icon from the right (it has “PDF” and a squiggle).

When you put your cursor there, two more icons appear below it.

Click the right-hand icon of these two.

Your download should begin right away. It takes between 2 and 5 minutes to download an issue, depending on the speed of your internet connection.

If you would like to read this issue more as you would a regular journal, and you don’t already have an application to do so, consider (for
free, or for the price of a fancy cup of coffee), trying out one of the wonderful PDF readers/viewers that are available now:


a free trial is available here:

Adobe Mobile PDF Reader

PDF Expert 4.5.1

We are very sympathetic to all of the trepidation our readers may experience during this transition, and we share those feelings. Change
involves feelings of loss, of risk, of fear as we move into the unfamiliar. But our choice, at the end of the day, is between surely fading out and possibly thriving again. Our decision is to go Once more unto the breach, dear friends.

We will have more information on the metamorphosis in the coming issue, Volume 66, No. 4, the final paper issue of North American Birds. As a former editor of the journal was so fond of saying, “Stay tuned!”

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.
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