Friday, March 26, 2010

State Bird Journals: Revised

Note: Originally published on 3/9/10, this post has been revised by incorporating information on New Jersey Birds, a journal published by New Jersey Audubon Society.

This review was prompted by my curiosity about how Michigan Birds and Natural History, a journal affiliated with the Michigan Audubon Society (MAS), compares to other State and regional bird journals being published in the United States. In the first two weeks of March 2010, I conducted an extensive Internet survey to gather information on bird journals and their affiliated organizations. I here summarize information relating to (a) organizational relationships, (b) frequency of publication, (c) longevity, (d) page counts, (e) seasonal field notes, (f) online journal access, (g) organizational membership, (h) membership dues structure, and (i) organizational income and assets.

Organizational Relationships of State Bird Journals:

In the United States, there are 35 "State" bird journals representing 35 States, plus 1 "regional" journal representing 7 States (Table 1), with all but one of the journals being received as a benefit of membership in a State or regional organization (Table 2); the sole exception is Michigan Birds and Natural History. Five of the 35 "State" journals are directly or indirectly associated with an Audubon society (HI, IN, MI, MO, NJ), the others with a separate ornithological society.

Additionally, Bird Observer—The New England Birding Journal is published privately (annual subscription rate of $21 for 6 issues), with no organizational affiliation but with Editorial Staff, Corporate Officers, and Board of Directors. It offers camera-ready quarter-, half-, and full-page ads for $35, $55, and $100.

Frequency of Publication:

Three journals are published annually, 6 are published biannually, and 23 are published quarterly. Outliers include Colorado Birds and Michigan Birds and Natural History (5 times/year), Bird Observer (6 times/year), and Elepaio (9 times/year).


The longevity (as of 2010) of 34 State journals for which I was able to determine such information ranged from 8 years (Journal of Louisiana Ornithology) to 88 years (Indiana Audubon Quarterly), with a median of 58 years. From this perspective, Michigan Birds and Natural History is relatively young, as it turns just 17 in 2010. However, if one considers MBNH to be a legitimate successor to the Jack-Pine Warbler (the ornithological journal), then MBNH can justifiably lay claim to an 88-year publishing lineage, tying the IAQ for longest-running State bird journal.

Page Counts:

As a general rule, State bird journals tend to be rather small in terms of the number of pages. To get a handle on this, I obtained information on total page numbers in the five most recent volumes for nine journals (all journals for which I was able to download such information), realizing that this may not be a representative sample.

For those nine journals, median page counts ranged from 28 (Bulletin of the Oklahoma Ornithological Society) to 340 (Passenger Pigeon), with a median of about 101. Page counts for two recent volumes of Michigan Birds and Natural History (2007 and 2008) averaged 252, making it more than twice the size of the average State bird journal sampled.

Seasonal Field Notes:

Organizations in at least three States (New Mexico, Texas, and Virginia) publish their quarterly field observations separate from their journals. The respective publications for New Mexico and Virginia are NMOS Field Notes and Virginia Birds. Through a partnership with Natural Heritage New Mexico, the New Mexico Ornithological Society even offers a searchable database for NMOS Field Notes. I was not able to determine if Texas field notes are available only online or if members receive them in a print format.

Online Journal Access:

All or substantial portions of 14 journals are now (or soon will be) available online as PDF files, and in a few cases the archives are searchable. The 14 journals are:
  • Alabama Birdlife: Volumes 1-54 (1953-2008). Full articles, plus Search feature.
  • Bulletin of the Oklahoma Ornithological Society: Online archive of first 37 issues (1968-2004), with issues available as PDF files, courtesy of the Oklahoma State University Library Electronic Publishing Center.
  • Bulletin of the Texas Ornithological Society: Just two volumes (2006-2007) are currently available online as PDF files.
  • Chat (NC, SC): 23 volumes online, others in progress. Plus cumulative index and searchable database.
  • Florida Field Naturalist: All articles from 1973-2006 are downloadable, including searches by date, title, or author.
  • Elepaio (HI): PDF files of all issues from February 2003 to March 2010.
  • Indiana Audubon Quarterly: A project is currently underway to digitize all issue since first published in 1929, including searchable index. This feature may be available now for members. In the meantime, one issue of the IAQ is available for public download as a PDF file.
  • Kansas Ornithological Society Bulletin: All issues from 1950 to 2007 (Volumes 1-58) are available as PDF files.
  • Kingbird (NY): Searchable archive of articles published 1950-2007.
  • Migrant (TN): Volumes 1-75 available online as PDF files.
  • New Jersey Birds: All issues since Fall 2006 (Volume 32, Number 4) are available online in PDF format. Available in online-only format since 2009 (Volume 35) for reasons stated here.
  • NMOS Bulletin (NM): Articles from Volumes 1-28 (1973-2000) are available as PDF files. Tables of Content only for Volumes 29-36 (2001-2008).
  • Passenger Pigeon (WI): All issues (1939-2006) are available online as PDF files through the University of Wisconsin Digital Collection.
  • Raven (VA): All issues (1930-2005) are available as PDF files through the Center for Conservation Biology at the College of William and Mary.
  • South Dakota Bird Notes: All Volumes (1948-2003) are available as PDF files (1948-2003).
  • Five journals have made available, either online or in hard-bound volumes, indices of journal contents:
  • Loon (MN): Online index to articles by species, but individual articles are not available, with exception of Reports of the Minnesota Bird Records Committee, which are all available as PDF files.
  • Colorado Birds: Table of Contents and sample articles available online for 4 most recent issues. Hard-bound Subject Index to first 34 years is available for purchase.
  • Kentucky Warbler: Tables of Content for Volumes 73-85 (1973-2009). Indexes (or highlights) for Volumes 13-72 (1937-1996).
  • Maryland Birdlife: A CD index is available for purchase.
  • Ohio Cardinal: Indices of all issues by article and species. Contents only of latest issue, and PDF file of one sample issue.
  • Six journals list their Tables of Content to a greater or lesser degree:
  • Bluebird: Covers and tables of content only for Volumes 70-77 (2003-2010).
  • Iowa Bird Life: Table of Contents of most recent issue only, with 1 article available for download.
  • Meadowlark: An archive lists the highlights of each issue, Volumes 1-18 (1992-2009), and the contents of the most recent issue are displayed.
  • Nebraska Bird Review: Tables of Content only, Volumes 66-75 (1998-2007).
  • Utah Birds: Table of Contents of a single issue posted online.
  • Washington Birds: Tables of Content for Volumes 1-9 (1989-2006).
  • In general, less seems to have been done to make known to the general public the contents of Michigan Birds and Natural History and its predecessor, the Jack-Pine Warbler, than most other State bird journals. There is no online or published index, Tables of Content of past or current issues are not available, and only a single "sample" issue (June-August 2008) is downloadable as a PDF file.

    Organizational Membership:

    Membership in organizations publishing State bird journals tends to be relatively small. Using the National Wildlife Federation’s online Conservation Directory, I was able to determine the size of just eight State organizations; 5 reported having between 101 and 1,000 members, 2 reported having between 1,001 and 10,000 members, and 1 reported having between 10,001 and 100,000 members; New Jersey Audubon Society was the largest, followed by Michigan Audubon Society and the Minnesota Ornithologists’ Union.

    Membership Dues:

    With the exception of Michigan Birds and Natural History, State bird journals are received as a benefit of membership in the organization with which the journal is affiliated. In most cases (24 of 34) a newsletter is also received as part of the membership package (Table 3). Dues structures vary tremendously among the various organizations, with a variety of (sometimes imaginative) membership categories. In the following summary of 12 of the most frequent types of membership categories, I show sample size, median values, and ranges (in parentheses):
  • Student/Senior/Limited Income (n=37): $14 ($5-20) = MAS Student level
  • Regular (n=9): $20 ($15-35)
  • Individual (n=29): $25 ($10-30) = MBNA subscription rate
  • Family (n=31): $30 ($20-40) = MAS Basic level
  • Library/Institution (n=10): $30 ($15-45)
  • Sustaining (n=26): $40 ($20-500)
  • Contributing (n=14): $50 ($15-60) = MAS Donor level
  • Business/Corporate/Donor (n=6): $75 ($30-100) = MAS Business level
  • Supporting (n=8): $75 ($25-100) = MAS Supporting level
  • Patron (n=8): $300 ($50-2,000)
  • Life (n=35): $500 ($100-3,000)
  • Benefactor (n=4): $750 ($150-5,000)
  • Income and Assets:

    Among the 35 State organizations that I was able to find in the online Melissa data lookup for non-profit corporations, the median annual income was $26,216; 15 reported incomes of less than $25,000, while 4 reported incomes exceeding $500,000. New Jersey Audubon Society topped the list at $8.7 million, followed by Michigan Audubon Society $2.6 million {1}, Maryland Ornithological Society ($603,100), and Georgia Ornithological Society ($579,000).

    Twenty organizations reported assets ranging from $31,400 to $26.2 million, with a median value of $228,900. New Jersey Audubon Society topped the list, followed by Michigan Audubon Society ($10.7 million) {1}, Georgia Ornithological Society ($2.2 million), and Maryland Ornithological Society ($1.8 million).

    {1} Income and asset figures for MAS represent the sum totals for operations in the Lansing office as reported under four different Tax I.D. numbers.

    Table 1: State and Regional Bird Journals.
    Alabama Birdlife, Bird Observer—The New England Birding Journal, Bluebird (MO), Bulletin of the Oklahoma Ornithological Society, Bulletin of the Texas Ornithological Society, Chat (NC, SC), Colorado Birds, Connecticut Warbler, Delmarva Ornithologist (DE), Elepaio (HI), Florida Field Naturalist, Indiana Audubon Quarterly, Iowa Bird Life, Journal of Louisiana Ornithology, Kansas Ornithological Society Bulletin, Kentucky Warbler, Kingbird (NY), Mississippi Kite, Loon (MN), Maryland Birds, Meadowlark (IL), Michigan Birds and Natural History, Migrant (TN), Nebraska Bird Review, New Jersey Birds, NMOS Bulletin, Ohio Cardinal, Oregon Birds, Oriole (GA), Passenger Pigeon (WI), Pennsylvania Birds, Raven (VA) Redstart (WV), South Dakota Bird Notes, Utah Birds, Washington Birds, Western Birds (AK, AZ, CA, HI, ID, NV, OR, WA).
    Table 2: Organizations Publishing State Bird Journals.
    Alabama Ornithological Society; Audubon Society of Missouri, Brooks Bird Club (WV); Carolina Bird Club, Colorado Field Ornithologists; Connecticut Ornithological Association; Delmarva Ornithological Society (DE); Florida Ornithological Society; Georgia Ornithological Society; Hawaii Audubon Society; Illinois Ornithological Society; Indiana Audubon Society; Iowa Ornithologists’ Union; Kansas Ornithological Society; Kentucky Ornithological Society; Louisiana Ornithological Society; Maryland Ornithological Society; Michigan Audubon Society; Minnesota Ornithologists’ Union; Mississippi Ornithological Society; Nebraska Ornithologist’s Union; New Jersey Audubon Society; New Mexico Ornithological Society; New York State Ornithological Association; Ohio Ornithological Society; Oklahoma Ornithological Society; Oregon Field Ornithologists; Pennsylvania Society for Ornithology; South Dakota Ornithologist’s Union; Tennessee Ornithological Society; Texas Ornithological Society; Utah Ornithological Society; Virginia Society of Ornithology; Washington Ornithological Society; Western Field Ornithologists; Wisconsin Society for Ornithology.
    Table 3: Newsletters of State Organizations that Publish Bird Journals
    Badger Birder (WI), Cardinal (IN), CBC Newsletter (NC, SC), Cerulean (OH), COA Bulletin (CT), D.O.S. Flyer (DE), GOShawk (GA), Horned Lark (KS), IOU News (IA), Kestrel (KY), Kestrel Express (NJ), LOS News (LA), Mail Bag (WV), Minnesota Birding, New York Birders, NOU Newsletter (NE), PSO Pileated (PA), Scissortail (OK), Snail Kite (FL), Tennessee Warbler, VSO Newsletter (VA), Wings Over the Prairie (IL), WFO Newsletter (AK, AZ, CA, HI, ID, NV, OR, WA), WOS News (WA), Yellowhammer (AL), Yellowthroat (MD).


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