American Birding Podcast



Gluttons for Knowledge


Suppose you were tasked with characterizing the ABA membership. And suppose you had to do so in a single short sentence. We ABA’ers are all over the place demographically, geographically, ideologically, and other-ically. So we need a characterization that transcends our many differences. I know!—

ABA members like birds and birding.

Well, yeah. But that goes with the definition. Golfers like golf, too, and hikers like hiking. Can we get a bit of nuance here?

In every member survey the ABA has ever conducted, one theme stands out. It’s the need—the very real need—to learn more about birds. That’s what ABA members reported in the 1990s, again in the aughts, and most recently in the 2014 survey. The wording of the survey questions has changed a bit over the years, and so have the survey methods. But the overarching theme is the same: We birders—ABA members in particular, and probably the whole birding community in general—want to know more about birds. Excuse me, we need to know more about birds.

If there’s one thing that unites the 12,000-some members of the American Birding Association, it’s the following:

ABA members want to learn about birds.

For full access to Paul Hess's "News and Notes" column in Birding magazine, click on the link in the main text of this article.

For full access to Paul Hess’s “News and Notes” column in Birding magazine, click on the link in the main text of this article.

During the past dozen years, Paul Hess has penned something like 275 entries in his widely admired “News and Notes” column in Birding. Every topic and taxon imaginable has been covered. In the current issue, Hess’s taxonomic coverage extends from Common Loons to Flame-faced Tanagers to Brown-headed Cowbirds; the biological topics run the gamut from mercury pollution to the origins of migration to the ecology of nest predation.

It’s impossible to read “News and Notes” and not learn about birds. Each installment of the column—two to three per issue of Birding—is like a really good college lecture on some cutting-edge topic in contemporary biology. And if you follow the column for two or three years, you’ll gain wide exposure to many of the major themes and currents in modern ornithology.

Very soon, the ABA will be launching a wonderful resource for members: full access to back issues of Birding. For now, here’s Paul Hess’s column in the November/December 2014 Birding. Multiply that times 100, and that’s how much content you’ll get from “News and Notes” alone. On top of all that: Featured Photos and Photo Quizzes, Tools of the Trade, Birding Interviews, every single Feature Article, and more.

It’s a good time to be an ABA member.