Exactly nine years ago, I was in Spain for a press tour. It was great to talk shop with other bird magazine editors—most of them Europeans—about our shared passion for giving voice to the birding communities in our home continents and beyond. We all had questions: Would this internet thing make a difference? Could anybody foresee a future for online magazines? What to do about our aging readerships?
“They” were especially impressed with Birding magazine’s relative gender balance. For my part, I was impressed by “their” ability to report, every single month, stop-press rarities from all over the continent. Birding World was especially notable in this regard, but they weren’t the only European magazine doing it. Could Birding ever pull off a similar feat in North America?
Nine years later, the answer is gloriously in the affirmative. Effective immediately, Birding is providing monthly summaries of North American rarities. It’s been a work in progress, and various folks have contributed to this outcome, but one person stands out for her role in this important new chapter in the 45-year history of Birding magazine: “Sightings” department editor and rare bird guru Amy Davis.
Amy’s most recent report, available online to ABA members right now, covers North American rarities reported through mid-March. That’s a lag of just one month, and we expect to shorten the lag ever further. Amy’s report covering rarities through the end of March will be available to ABA members within the week—fully a month before the print version of the May/June 2013 Birding is mailed out.
The current report is amazingly detailed. A Pink-footed Goose lingering at St. John’s was Newfoundland & Labrador’s 8th record of the species; a Harlequin Duck in Harlequin County, Tennessee, was that state’s 5th record; two Yellow-throated Warblers in Baja California Sur were 550 meters apart; and so forth. And, yes, Amy—only Amy!—has counted up every single Northern Lapwing reported this past winter in eastern North America.
Or do you just want to read about the rarest of the rare, the megas? They’re in there too: Gray Heron, Black-tailed Godwit, Nutting’s Flycatcher, Red-flanked Bluetail, Citrine Wagtail, Siberian Accentor, Eurasian Bullfinch, and many others.
A final thought. Amy Davis is “just” the compiler of “Sightings.” She’s able to glean a fair bit of content from Birding News and eBird, but the most significant contributions come from a network of local and regional experts—real human beings like you. If you’d like to contribute to “Sightings,” please contact Amy <argdavis AT gmail.com> and she’ll let you know about guidelines, deadlines, and the like.
Left to right: Gray Heron, Newfoundland and Labrador (photo by Jared Clarke); Black-tailed Godwit, Virginia (photo by Dick Rowe); McCown’s Longspur, Georgia (photo by Larry Gridley); Razorbill, Louisiana (photo by Dave Patton). Read about these rarities—and many, many more—in Amy Davis’s “Sightings” column, available right now to ABA members.