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The Future of Birding

The future of capital-B Birding, the magazine, that is. (We’ll take up the matter of little-b birding—the whole hobby, the whole way of life—at some later point.)

First things first. It might not be a bad idea to review the history of Birding. If you have the time and interest, please check out my six-part “History of Birding,” appearing in the 2006 volume of Birding. Here goes: Part I (1968–1974), Part II (1975–1980), Part III (1981–1987), Part IV (1988–1993), Part V (1994–2000), and Part VI (2001–2006).

What’s next up for Birding?

May 2010 BirdingTo a very large extent, that’s entirely up to you. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. My goal for Birding is that it serve as the mouthpiece of the birding community of the North American continent. The greatest thing about the ABA is its grassroots agenda: The ABA is all about you, the birders of Canada, Mexico, and the United States. We’re all in this thing together, regardless of all the other differences in our lives and lifestyles. We are united by our shared fascination with the ways and welfare of birds, despite our varied approaches to nature study. And let’s face it: The attitudes and outlook of the birding community are undeniably evolutionary. It is folly to imagine that old attitudes—toward native and exotic bird species, let’s say—will remain entrenched forever. (Above: Click here to learn more about the cover images for the May 2010 issue of Birding.)

So again I ask: What’s next up for Birding?

You tell me. What sort of content would you like to see more of? What sort of content would you like to see less of? How about the medium itself? Are you inclined toward online content? Or not?

I welcome suggestions big and small, broad and narrow.

March 2011 Birding Small and narrow. One person told me that the biggest improvement in the history of Birding, years ago, was the switch from Roman to Arabic numerals for indicating the volume of each issue of Birding. Another person has told me that the glossy covers of the past 20 or so years have been a disaster for folks who prefer to stack old copies of Birding on the floor; the glossy covers are too slippery, and those blessed stacks of Birding keep falling over. Someone else has lamented to me that the abandonment, starting in 2006, of sequential page numbering within each volume was a “deal with the devil,” a sure sign that we at Birding had sold our soul to the general birding public. (Right: The March 2011 issue of Birding is in the mail!)

Big and broad. About four years ago, I got a complaint from a long-time member about a dramatic recent increase in the number of articles on “international” birds and birding destinations. In the same week, someone else—another long-time member—complained to me that Birding used to have far more “international” coverage, back in the good old days. Constantly, I hear that we have too much coverage of bird identification. It's one of the most frequently registered complaints—except for the complaint that we have too little bird ID coverage. To see where I’m coming from, check out the responses to Jeff Gordon’s inaugural vlog.

What can I say? I really want to hear it all. Lay it on me. And not just on me. Share your thoughts, please, with all of us. As I’ve said time and again, we’re all friends. Register your comments below. It takes a few seconds to sign in, and, I promise you, we won’t try to sell you anything. On that note, it would be helpful if you would do the following:

1. Say who you are.

2. Indicate whether you’re an ABA member. If you’re not, that’s absolutely fine. The input of nonmembers is potentially of great value.

3. If you are a member, please indicate for how long you’ve been a member.

November 2010 Birding 4. Please be specific. Tell us, for example, that you’d like an article on separating the rosy-finches in winter. Or tell us that you’d like a “WebExtra” with sound recordings of Cassin’s, Blue-headed, and Plumbeous vireos. Speaking of “WebExtras,” let us know, please, if you’re having problems with a particular file format. Shifting gears, let’s say you’d like to have more content in Birding for children. That’s great, but, once again, please provide specifics. Point us to another birding magazine that does children’s content well or poorly, or let us know of somebody who might be interested in generating such content for Birding. Shifting gears again, do you want the option of receiving Birding entirely in electronic format? Would you like to see Birding become a monthly magazine? A quarterly? ’nuff said. I’m sure you catch my drift. Be specific. (Above: Click here to learn more about the cover art for the November 2010 issue of Birding.)

5. Let’s abide, please, by the rule of the four C’s. On the one hand, I welcome your candor and criticism. On the other hand, let’s keep it civil and constructive. And I just thought of a fifth C. Please, please, go crazy with the comments section below. Sign in, tell us who you are, and let us know your vision for the future of Birding.

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