Want to Publish in Ornithology? A Challenge

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Previously I described what it takes to do ornithological research, culminating in, hopefully, a published paper. Where would you publish this? There are a number of places, but peer-reviewed research is typically published in a format called a journal like The Wilson Journal of Ornithology, Australian Field Ornithology, Journal of Avian Biology, Journal of Ornithology, Ibis, and Journal of Raptor Research. There are informative but not peer-reviewed, articles in publications such as Audubon, Smithsonian, National Geographic, and Natural History which print good articles on recent bird research. Then there are numerous amateur-oriented publications like Bird Watcher’s Digest andbulletins and newsletters put out by local Audubon or other bird-oriented groups that publish interesting articles about their regional birds. A complete list of journals and less scientific publications can be found on Wikipedia.

Let’s look at some of the recent scientific papers published in Ornithological Applications in November 2021. Ornithological Applications is a peer-reviewed quarterly scientific journal covering ornithology and official journal of the American Ornithological Society. One paper was about the reduced survival rate of Golden Eagle nestlings following a fire. Another cited evidence that protected areas safeguard landbird populations in California. Next was a study that showed Barred Owls and BarredxSpotted Owl hybrids have high levels of rat poison in wildland-urban interface areas. There are several other papers plus a couple of book reviews included, all presuming the reader is an experienced birdwatcher or some level of ornithologist. But occasionally you will find a paper like Distribution models using semi-structured community science data outperform unstructured-data models for a data-poor species, the Plain Tyrannulet that requires the reader not only to be well read but have some knowledge of statistics.

Each published paper has an abstract, a very shortened version of the entire paper. Reading the abstract usually tells you enough about the project so you can decide whether you want to read the entire paper. And it has a literature cited section which tells you where the author(s) got the background information for their research.

Other publications like the fall 2021 article in Audubon magazine, This Iconic Bird of the Everglades is Moving to the ‘Burbs, discusses the movement of White Ibises in Florida. A good article full of information, but no abstract or literature cited section is included because it’s reporting on other’s research, not the author’s. The January/February 2022 Bird Watcher’s Digest, includes articles by a variety of people from talented amateurs to professional ornithologists. Two articles were Winter Owling and Bonaparte’s Gull. Full of information but much more general and basic than the previous publications noted. (To digress, I have an ongoing bone to pick with Bird Watcher’s Digest: the editor adamantly refuses to capitalize the official common names of birds even though virtually all other publications do. So instead of using Yellow Warbler which tells you exactly what bird it is, the magazine uses yellow warbler which could be any warbler that’s mostly yellow.)

In any case, there are many places to put your writing if you want to try your hand at publishing some bird-oriented information. But I suggest you read, read, and read some more before you do. Stephen King, famous horror writer, says that if you don’t have time to read you don’t have time to write.

Here’s a challenge. If you think you would like to write an article, do so and submit it to me. If it’s good, I’ll post it as a blog on Ornithology.com. The only rule: keep it to 500 words or less.

2 thoughts on “Want to Publish in Ornithology? A Challenge”

  1. Enjoyed your discussion of ornithological publications.
    If you have access to the book, The Life of Birds (Welty and Baptista, 4th edition, 1988), I wonder if you might have an update on the intriguing phenomenon described on page 353.
    A pheasant will lay a clutch of a dozen or so eggs “over a span of two weeks or more… It is essential that all eggs hatch out at about the same time.”
    “Clicking sounds made by [unhatched] chicks… act as signals… to accelerate slowly developing chicks or to retard the more advanced ones so that they all hatch out at the same time.”

    1. I haven’t looked for any updates but I know there has been research on waterfowl on this phenomenon. THee probably have been more investigations into this in other species. When all the eggs hatch at once it’s called synchronous hatching and I’d be surprized if it wasn’t common among a number of species.
      But generally, although the eggs might be laid over a period of time, incubation only begins when all the eggs are laid in most species, so the young will hatch pretty close to the same time.

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