North American Birds: Vol. 73, No. 1

Michael L.P. Retter
Editor, North American Birds

Click the image above to read the magazine in flipbook format.

Please join me in welcoming Amy Davis as the new Associate Editor of North American Birds! Besides her new duties helping with the printed magazine, Amy continues to publish timely news in the realm of avian status and distribution via our online Field Ornithology series ( Her recent articles have included topics such as the Lesson’s Seedeater in Québec, the (latest!) Small-billed Elaenia in Illinois, and the Bat Falcon in south Texas. In each case, she makes sure to put the current record in context using past data to show any trends that might be evident or evolving. More recently, her article on the push of Northern Lapwings onto the Atlantic seaboard of North America examines in detail the likely cause: weather.

This issue of NAB prominently features an in-depth look and reanalysis of plumage aberrations by Hein van Grouw, a widely renowned expert on the topic. NAB Regional Report Publication Editor Randi Minetor summarizes and explains the recent blitzkrieg of Limpkins across the southeastern United States. Chrissy Kondrat, who studies Bendire’s Thrashers professionally, offers her tips for identifying them in the field. Steve N. G. Howell and Dale Dyer share how they are dealing with bird taxonomy for their upcoming field guide to the birds of Costa Rica. (Spoiler alert: Like so many these days, they’re not relying on AOS.) Mary Gustafson and coauthors document the third Texas record of Spotted Rail. And Amy Davis rounds us out by compiling the Pictorial Highlights column, which showcases some of the most exciting photos gleaned from the online Regional Reports.

Thanks to our volunteer team of report editors and compilers, publication of Regional Reports ( continues apace. I particularly want to thank the regional compilers from the Québec, Texas, Baja California Peninsula, Southern Great Plains, West Indies & Bermuda, and Atlantic regions: they each have a full range of reports spanning from Fall 2016 through 2021 available on our website.

We in the birding community depend on one another to share our knowledge and insights. With that in mind, I ask you to consider submitting a brief article for the Field Ornithology web series, penning a manuscript for publication in the magazine, and/or serving as a Regional Report Compiler or Regional Report Publication Editor. In particular, we need help compiling regional reports in Florida, Idaho, Montana, Pennsylvania, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, the Greater Antilles, the Canadian territories, Greenland, and Mexico. The ABA strives to make heard the voices of historically marginalized and under-represented groups in birding, and—to be blunt—the lack of diversity among our authors and Regional Report Compilers is concerning. We urgently want and need to hear more and varied perspectives. By you sharing your knowledge, we can all become more informed and understanding birders.


UPDATE: 14 July 2021

A number of people have contacted me over the past few weeks regarding an article on “albino Clapper Rails” in this issue. The identification of the white birds in the photos was in error, NAB’s review system missed it, and retraction will be printed in a subsequent issue.

Ironically, many of those pointing out the misidentification misidentified the birds with the next metaphorical breath, which serves as a good reminder that mistakes happen! That said, please rest assured NAB will be looking at ways to strengthen its review system in the immediate future.

It also serves as a reminder that peer review is most effective with multiple peers, so in the “make lemonade out of lemons” column, I am taking this opportunity of increased exposure to invite more technical reviewers and copy editors to help catch things like this. The more eyes, the better! If you’re interested in channeling your expertise and offering preemptive constructive criticism, please contact me!

Meanwhile, in the “silver linings” column, as embarassing as this is for me personally, I am, however, heartened that so many people care about NAB—what a turn of events for a publication that was on life support just two years ago! I am grateful for every message of concern and correction received regarding this matter. Now, please read on in future issues and try to find more!