American Birding Podcast



Your Voice, Your Vote: Will We Add Hawaii to the ABA Area?

Will it be yea, yea or Nene? It's time to vote on adding Hawaii to the ABA Area. Nenes (Hawaiian Geese), Hawaii's State Bird, by USFWS.

Will it be, “Yea, yea,” or “Nene?” It’s time to vote on adding Hawaii to the ABA Area. Nenes (Hawaiian Geese), Hawaii’s State Bird, by USFWS.

ABA members, it’s time for your voices to be heard and your votes to be counted.

If you are a current member, you will soon receive a proxy ballot in the mail, or may have recently received one. In addition to a fine slate of board candidates, there is a proposed change to the ABA Bylaws Section 8(b) which would add Hawaii to the ABA Area.

The question of adding Hawaii to the ABA Area, the area covered by the ABA Checklist and the basis for many of the lists kept by birders throughout the United States, Canada, and beyond, is one that has been debated at length, including numerous times right here on this blog. The matter was even a key part of a non-binding referendum we sent to the membership in 2012, where 53% of ABA members responding favored adding Hawaii, versus 36% who opposed it (7% were neutral; 4% did not indicate a preference).

We are now officially calling that question. It’s time for you–if you are an ABA Member in good standing as of October 28, 2016–to vote to officially revise the ABA’s Bylaws to add Hawaii to the ABA Area, or to stick with the current definition.

The ABA Board of Directors and I, the ABA President, hope that you will vote “Yes” to accept Hawaii into the ABA Area. We believe that not only is this the best course of action for the ABA community, it is also the one most likely to benefit Hawaii’s magnificent and imperiled native birds, which are a local, national, and global treasure.

But ultimately, it is up to you, the ABA membership. So we’re putting up this blog post as a place for you to ask questions, and to voice your support or opposition. The only rule is to keep things civil and respectful.

I encourage you to review and consider a couple of things before making your vote. First, go over to, where you’ll find a number of things worth your time, which are also linked to here, for convenience. There is a copy of the ballot, and links to my August 2016 “Birding Together” column, which tries to answer some of the common questions about how the addition of Hawaii would proceed. For example, would we still have an ABA Continental Area that would have the same boundaries as the current ABA Area? The short answer is yes.

In addition, I recommend reading “The Case for Hawaii’s Birds,”  by Cameron L. Rutt, John C. Mittermeier, and Alex X. Wang, also published in the August 2016 issue of Birding. It’s an excellent summary and review of many of the arguments that have been advanced about Hawaii and the ABA Area. It is decidedly in favor of adding Hawaii, but the authors examine and answer the main arguments against in a serious and respectful way.

Also over at, you’ll find information about attending the ABA’s annual membership meeting, where the final votes will be cast and tabulated. If you’re anywhere near ABA headquarters in Delaware City, Delaware, we would be delighted to have you join us there. Please do RSVP, either by filling out this short online form, or by calling us at 800-850-2473.

So, we want to hear from you. Here on the blog, in person, and/or by proxy. Please let us know if you are an ABA member in your comment. And remember, while only ABA members can vote, we welcome discussion from the entirety of the birding community.

So how will you cast your vote? However you do, all of us at the ABA are grateful for your support of the organization and for the opportunity to serve you and the entire ABA community.

The proposed change to the ABA Bylaws Section 8(a).

The proposed change to the ABA Bylaws Section 8(a).