MICHAEL L. P. RETTER
Editor, North American Birds
We at the ABA were extremely saddened to learn of the sudden passing of Edward S. “Ned” Brinkley in Ecuador on Sunday 22 November 2020. Ned served as editor of this journal from 2001 to 2017 and was undoubtedly one of the sharpest ornithological minds on the continent. All of us have benefitted from his knowledge and insight over the decades, and his departure leaves a deep void within the ornithological community. His longtime friend George Armistead offers a remembrance, and we wish to convey our heartfelt condolences to Ned’s family and friends, who are many.
It’s my belief that one of the best ways we can celebrate Ned’s life is by striving to keep his torch burning–by furthering the knowledge of our continent’s birdlife. And while the NAB team has certainly been busy producing the wonderful articles you see in this magazine, we’ve been working even harder to produce online content.
Before the end of 2020 we reached our goal of publishing at least one regional report for every region that had submitted one. In addition, we had also published every 2020 report we received, and we had published just over 100 quarterly reports in the prior 4 months. Our newly-assembled team has proven that it is capable of dealing with the backlog while also publishing current reports in a timely manner. In fact, with few if any exceptions, 2020 reports were published within a week or less of their receipt. I want to thank Greg Neise and Ted Floyd for their help in this endeavor and, especially, our Report Publication Editors, who all made this achievement possible. Click here to see our progress, and scroll to the bottom to see our team of Report Publication Editors.
If your region lacks content, and you have an idea of who could help fill the gap, please let us know by emailing me. Now that we have the online infrastructure in place, rejuvenating and strengthening NAB’s team of regional editors is at the top of our to-do list for early 2021.
In addition to regional reports, our online offerings include short articles on current birding events in our Field Ornithology series. Topics have included the mysterious bird die-off in New Mexico, hurricane waif roundups, and the ongoing finch irruptions into the central and eastern portions of the continent. Please consider writing about a current birding event in your area.
Now, back to the magazine….
With regional reports appearing online, we are able to offer more feature content in the printed issues than ever before. This 80-page issue is chock-full of exciting articles, including two you may be used to seeing in the pages of Birding magazine: the ABA Checklist Committee’s annual report and the Check-list Redux. Going forward, you can expect to find this content here, in North American Birds, as part of the ABA’s efforts to fully integrate this journal into the organization’s media offerings.
In addition, Bryan Guarente explains how fall bird migration is related to weather patterns, and how we can use weather forecast maps to predict movements. Alvaro Jaramillo shares a wealth of photos and his knowledge pertaining to the identification of first-cycle Slaty-backed Gulls. And Alison Világ explains how unexpected adaptations to non-native species have seemingly benefitted “Everglades” Snail Kites.
We also have content related to exciting “firsts”. Josh Parks relays his experience finding a Steller’s Sea-Eagle in in land Alaska; he also presents a comprehensive list of all North American records for the species. Brian Taber shares photos and identification notes for the first known observation of a Mottled x American Black Duck hybrid. James Wilson, Donald McAlpine, and David Soto explain the circumstances surrounding continental North America’s first specimen of Graylag Goose. And Raymond VanBuskirk relays his discovery of a Buff-collared Nightjar nest, presents a comprehensive list of all known nests of the species, and presents the first known photos of nestlings of the species. In all of these cases, the authors explain the information in a greater context, helping us to make sense of it.
Finally, rounding out this issue is the ever-popular Pictorial Highlights, which has been greatly expanded (to 21 pages) thanks to the extra room made available by moving regional reports online. Would you like to see your photo of a vagrant or oddly-plumaged bird featured in Pictorial Highlights? If so, be sure to send your original photos to the relevant regional editors!
As always, we in the birding community depend on one another to share our knowledge and insights. With that in mind, I ask you, dear reader, to consider submitting a brief article for the Field Ornithology web series, penning a manuscript for publication in the magazine, submitting your photos to regional editors, and/or serving as a regional editor or report publication editor for regional reports. By you sharing your knowledge, we can all become more informed birders.