American Birding Podcast



Happening NOW: North American Birds Changes are Upon Us

Mid-summer is well upon us. Post-breeding dispersal is underway at this writing and shorebird migration has begun, while rarities continue to pepper the North American continent. These have ranged from local notables to the mind-numbingly exciting Antillean Palm-Swift in Florida. There are a great number of exhilarating and worthy avian topics for this installment of “Happening NOW,” but I’m here to tell you that we’ve got a quite different subject to discuss this week. We’re going to talk about what is happening NOW with the journal North American Birds. And although this topic might be slightly less thrilling than reading about palm-swifts and grassquits on the Florida Keys, it is still an important and worthwhile read.

There are really two big changes that readers and supporters of NAB should be aware of. We’ll start with the biggest—starting with the current NAB season, the nesting season of 2019 covering June and July, regional reports are going to be published online. In practice, this means that all of our regional editors will get login-in credentials at a site where reports can be uploaded within days of a season’s end. I will then be able to edit and publish those reports within another few hours or, at most, a few days. For you, our readers, the takeaway is that you will only have to wait a week or so to see the regional reports for a given season, instead of the usual lapse of many months. Given that these reports will be online on a site that we at ABA can manage and curate, all of the reports will also be fully searchable and sortable by region and date.

The obvious question for anyone following NAB over the last several decades then becomes, what will be published on paper? An excellent question, that. What we are currently working on is collecting a group of articles—with an emphasis on focus and brevity—that will undergo rapid review by our associate editors and outside experts and then be published. Some of these articles may look like the feature or lead articles that NAB has carried in the past, but others may look more like these Happening NOW posts, with the qualifier that they will be slightly longer, more fully researched, and more formal. Several such articles already have been received and others are in the works, so my hope is that this will be not only a fairly smooth transition, but one that provides a valuable resource for those interested in status and distribution.

There are still many questions left to be answered and many specifications being worked out. Chief among them being: What will happen to the backlog of unpublished regional reports. To say that I had a concrete answer to that, and many other, questions would be stretching the truth. My hope is that the online publication of regional reports will become so seamless and easy that we can begin to publish the back-issue regional reports to that online platform just as we will be publishing the current ones. Given that the reports will be organized by date and region, this doesn’t impose an inherent problem. However, we will have to take a bit of a wait-and-see approach.

I am genuinely and deeply exciting by the possibilities that both changes open up for us. I hope I hear from you, our readership, as we roll out the online regional report site and later in the fall, when we publish our first issue of NAB featuring a lineup of S&D articles. Until then, and as always, good birding!