1991-2000 Volumes 41-50
© 2003 Federation of New York State Bird Clubs, Inc.
The purpose of an index is to help its users find information.
This index has three parts, each a different way to find answers to
- TITLES of ARTICLES, listed chronologically.
- AUTHOR Index
- SUBJECT Index
Indexing is essentially answering questions before they
are asked. The indexer anticipates what the users will be trying to
only now, but way into the future. The decennial indexes from our
first four decades are still being used – long after almost
everyone connected with them has since departed. This current index
used decades from now, so I have designed it with the future in mind.
TITLES. The easiest way to find an article that you clearly remember
is by scanning the titles in the appropriate time frame. Bird names
are in bold. Another use for the titles is to get a rapid briefing
on what has been published during the decade. This can be very helpful
when thinking about writing an article.
AUTHORS. The Author Index lists all authors of every item in The
Kingbird communicating information. The authors' names appear here
they appear on the articles, so that there is a one to one correspondence.
SUBJECTS. Author and subject indexes are kept separate because this
dichotomy is a basic paradigm of information gathering. A book by Charles Darwin is different from a book about Charles Darwin.
Architecture. Listed alphabetically are the index terms. Following
the terms are their locations in The Kingbird, presented as volume
and page numbers separated by a colon. For example, "Finch, House
46:4" means that an article about the House Finch is located
at volume 46 beginning on page 4. A string of locations for a term
called a vector.
The Kingbird publishes two types of documents: articles and Regional
Reports. They are indexed in that order, separated by " + ".
To further assist local birders, the locations for Regional Reports
are suffixed with a designation identifying the exact Region. New York
State is divided into ten Kingbird Regions. The suffix is in parens
with an "R" for Region followed by the number of the Region.
For example, "Finch, House 44:33(R1)" means that information
on House Finches is in the Region 1 report. An "H" in parens
designates the Seasonal Highlights introduction to each set of Regional
Reports in each issue of The Kingbird.
Page numbers are the first page of the Regional Report. In previous
indexes an attempt was made to direct the user to the exact page.
This practice was misguided, because the end of one Region and the
of another Region can appear on the same page. Also, important information
about a species can be located in two or more pages of a report.
Moreover, standard practice for indexing journals is to cite the
Coordinates. Index terms can be coordinated, like points on a graph.
By crossing two or more vectors, the number of look-ups can be drastically
reduced. For example, consider this query: Are there any articles
about the feeding behavior of Hairy Woodpeckers? Compare the location
of both terms.
Behavior, feeding 46:200 47:9 48:26 50:7
Woodpecker, Hairy 42:224 46:4 46:200 50:384
Location 46:200 appears in both vectors. Therefore, it is not necessary
to look up all four woodpecker articles, just the one common to both
terms. The more locations for the query terms, the more valuable
Not" operations can also be performed. That is, queries may not want to see certain types of articles. If you were looking for articles
on Canada Geese, but did not want articles on the waterfowl counts,
just cross the locations of "Goose, Canada" with those of "Waterfowl
Counts NYS". There are 15 locations for the goose and 10 for
the counts, so only 5 locations have to be looked up, or crossed
Counties. Local birding is often county oriented. All articles
that mention the location of their observations have been indexed
their counties. Of the 62 counties in New York State, 56 appear
here as terms.
Cross your particular county with any other term and you get site
specific articles. For example, if you wanted an article on Cooper's
Westchester County, cross these two terms and get location 43:278,
only one look-up.
Another feature of the indexing for counties is a quick glance
to see where the action is. Note how Suffolk County dominates.
your county fit in? Regional Reports were not indexed for counties
because they are built into the Region definitions.
NYSARC. The yearly reports of the New York State Avian Records
Committee (NYSARC) are loaded with index terms, especially bird
counties. However, users of The Kingbird indexes may either want
or they may not. Hardly ever, would they want both. To avoid having
to cross "NYSARC reports" with other terms, locations for
NYSARC reports are identified with a suffix "n". For example, "45:71n" is
the location of the 1993 NYSARC report. For another example, of the
2 articles on Palm Warblers, 1 is a NYSARC report.
Articles. Articles were indexed in depth. That is, they were read
and concepts, not mere words, were indexed. For example, the article
at 43:197 is titled, " Northern Rough-winged Swallow nests in
unused Purple Martin house". The article was indexed for the swallow,
not the martin, because the word "martin" was just the
style of bird house, not the bird. A researcher wanting articles
on the Purple
Martin would not want this article.
Not every species of bird mentioned in an article is indexed. For
if it were, the index would be too unwieldy and users would reject
of the articles they had to look up.
This concept can be illustrated using movie advertising. Movies
have stars, supporting actors, and bit players. The marquee in
a theater proclaims the stars. The posters list the stars and the
supporting actors, the stars in much bigger type. To get the bit
have to watch the credits on the movie itself. When indexers confront
an article, they always index for the stars, often for some of
the supporting cast, and usually not for the bit players, unless
is a compelling reason.
An article on birds is like a movie. It has species which play
starring roles. In a well crafted article, these star species appear
title. Species in supporting cast roles may appear in the abstract,
or in photos, or in tables, or be mentioned in a way that conveys
information about them.
Surveys, NYSARC reports, and the annual Waterfowl Counts are peculiar
in that each species mentioned is a star and is indexed.
Regional Reports. Each issue of The
Kingbird carries 10 Regional
Reports. In one year there are 4 issues carrying 40 reports. The
us with 400 reports. Each report carries at least 100 species,
some over 200. If every species in every Regional Report were indexed,
at least 40,000 locations would appear in this index, making it
a big city phone book. Nice to have, perhaps, but costing a fortune
to publish. And, making it a nuisance to use.
Consequently, the Regional Reports were indexed using an algorithm
based on two principles: news and progression. News is a departure
from ordinary routine. If every Regional Report cites a Bald Eagle,
that is indeed wonderful, but not news. There is no reason to index
Bald Eagle, because it can be found by simply turning to any report.
When indexing, I have tried to develop a sense of what was routine
and what was a departure from the routine. The first time a species
was reported from a Region is news. Further sightings may not be.
The Regional editors have a much better sense of news, so I relied
they wrote. New records, changes in trends, long durations since
previous reports are all news.
The other principle is the progression from data to information
to knowledge. Information is data with meaning. Knowledge is information
that tells a story. Data are just facts, or measurements, or observations.
Birders tend to generate huge amounts ("tons") of data.
Most of it just remains at that level. A small portion is moved on
information. Relatively little ever gets to become knowledge. The
Kingbird publishes all three levels. The Regional Reports are full
The introductory summaries written by the Regional editors try to
convert some of this data to information. Small portions of some
of these summaries
actually become knowledge. The articles in The Kingbird are where
most of the knowledge is published.
I have tried to index for all the knowledge in the Regional Reports
and some of the information. The data were passed over, unless
I saw something that the Regional editor did not.
Exotics. Introduced or escaped birds are too important to ignore.
They could become established someday and researchers would want
when they were first noticed. A recent example is the House Finch,
a migratory southwestern species illegally being sold by the pet
trade, and released on Long Island in 1940 by the dealer to avoid
The rest is history! However, its early sightings were not well
Introduced species can bring more than themselves into the ecosystem.
They can bring or facilitate diseases.
Consequently, I have tried to index for all exotics. Whether exotic
birds appear on some official list is irrelevant. As long as Regional
editors had the good sense to report them, an index has to carry
them. An index is a tool for finding information; it is not a device
promoting some narrowly prescribed agenda.
My perspective of The Kingbird is unique. I have read everything
in it from Volume 1 Number 1, 1950, to the present. This is my
second decennial index. And, I was the editor for three years.
Birding is very different from information about birding — just
as playing baseball is very different from information about baseball.
Proficiency in or on the field does not automatically carry over
into the library. As both a birder and an information scientist,
I not only
recognize the differences, but actually understand them. The quality
of birding information would greatly improve if birding authors
were to adopt a few simple bibliographic practices.
Authorship itself is a very misunderstood concept. I am amazed
at how frequently authors want to hide their names. They shrink
initials, or nicknames. They bury them at the tail end of their
articles. Perhaps this shyness stems from modesty. If so, then
let me clarify.
Authorship has absolutely nothing to do with modesty. It does have
everything to do with responsibility. Readers have a right to know
exactly who wrote what they are about to read. Readers should not
have to pedal down to the end of an article to find out. Authors'
should be emblazoned right under the title. The title-author duo
forms a bibliographic unit and there is never any justification
it. Authorship is a certification that everything in the article
is honest, accurate, and correct.
Some authors evade responsibility by using different names. Authors
should pick one name for publication and then stick with it. Readers
do not know if John Doe is the same person as Jack Doe or J. Doe.
It is even worse when nicknames start with different letters. Is
Doe the same person as Bill Doe? How about W. Doe and B. Doe? Perhaps
they are Wanda Doe and Brenda Doe. Personal familiarity with the
authors is not a prerequisite for reading. Some authors respond
knows their nickname. Oh yeah? Publication is for the future. Readers
three decades hence will not know most of the authors. Everybody
that knows you will probably disappear when you do.
My recommendation is that authors use their legal signatures, usually
the names that appear on their birth certificates. Today's standard
is first name, middle initial, and last name. Because we are in
a population explosion, I urge younger authors to use their full
the initials. Sometimes editors change the names of authors, so
authors should insist on full disclosure. Married women should
use the names
they started publishing with. Many marriages wind up in divorce,
so beware. If I were a woman, I would publish with my maiden name.
Am I belaboring this point? No! I am a bibliographer and have to
face the consequences of all these aliases almost on a daily basis.
who insist on a cavalier attitude toward names are the ones belaboring
the point. Literally, with emphasis on labor. Inaccurate author
names make more unnecessary work for readers.
Anonymous articles are my pet peeve. Anonymity is the camouflage
of cowards. We are all confronted with more to read than we have
or energy to. Therefore,
we select what we read. Savvy readers skip right over anonymous articles.
Any article without an author is not worth reading because there
is no assurance
of correct information. Placing authors' names at the end of articles makes
them look like anonymous articles — a disservice to both
the readers and the authors!
Levels of Information
The job of editors is to assist authors in moving data to information
to knowledge. Some authors stubbornly resist. When I was editor,
I never rejected a manuscript.
However, in my attempts to push an author's data up to information or knowledge,
some authors withdrew, quite disgruntled. As data progresses to knowledge,
the mental effort increases, as does the need for more research.
Some, perhaps most,
authors are more comfortable at the data level, which is why so many articles
are boring or difficult to read.
In order to assist this progression, here is an explanation. Because
information is data with meaning, a good way to move data along is
by asking "So what?" For
example, 63 Evening Grosbeaks were seen in a tree on 15 February 2002 in Norwich
by yours truly. These facts are data. Asking "So what?" elicits
a response that we have not had that many here since 1994. The data now have
we have information. The observation now has a significance.
Again asking "So what?" generates a reply that may bring in other
winter finches and arrival/departure dates and irruption cycles and so on.
A story begins
developing and, under a repetitive barrage of so whats, soon results in a
hefty gain of knowledge.
Rare and Common
Another difference between birding and birding information that most
birders probably do not realize is that the rarity of a bird is inversely
to the number of reports about it. The rarer the bird, the more it will be
reported. Likewise, common birds hardly ever appear in the Regional Reports
and when they
do, they just appear as mere data. Greater White-fronted Geese, eagles, Worm-eating
Warblers, etc. seem to appear in virtually every issue of The Kingbird. House
Sparrows, European Starlings, House Finches, American Robins, etc. are hardly
ever mentioned. Yet, it is the common species that are the best monitors
of the environment. In the future, when someone realizes that a common species
longer common, a search through The Kingbird will be made to find out if
population reduction was precipitous or gradual. What will they find? Whatever
we are reporting. Many Regional Reports never mention the House Sparrow or
the Rock Dove or the European Starling. This situation needs some serious
The rules of scholarship demand that every claim not made by the author
be attributed to its proper author. This attribution is made by citing
so that readers can examine it. In everyday parlance this is called an "audit
trail". The purpose of citations is to enable readers to find the information
the author is drawing upon.
Many authors of Kingbird articles ignore these rules. In order to know
what to cite, good scholarship requires that authors do adequate
The decennial indexes enable them to do just that. Citations in articles
provide another very effective way to search. Thus, when an article provides
it is useless for searching.
Articles with no citations are disingenuous because they pretend that
no prior publication existed until they came along. Perhaps it is
some authors to hide their names. Perhaps it is poor scholarship.
The Kingbird is now in its 53rd year. A lot of effort and expense has
gone into producing and distributing it. Yet, it hardly ever gets
cited by authors
in it. It seems as if new authors never read previous authors.
The worst blemish on Kingbird articles is their bibliographic deficiencies.
Citations to previous literature are frequently inadequate or improper or
both. To cite
a book without giving the exact page numbers being referred to is outright
sadistic. Why make the poor reader thumb through hundreds of pages just to
find the few
the author has in mind? Especially when the author already knows the exact
pages. Readers should not have to be mind-readers.
When citing books compiled by editors, the authors of the intended
chapter should be cited, not the editors, and certainly not the entire
book. In the
the Atlas, Andrle and Carroll did NOT write all those species accounts. (Andrle
wrote one; Carroll wrote 11.) Cite the authors who did - and give the exact
pages. When citing any document, both the first and last pages should be
should know how many pages a cited work is, in case they have to request
it on interlibrary loan.
The purpose of publishing articles is for authors to communicate with
readers. Anything that impedes this communication is counter-productive.
adherence to the reasonable principles detailed above will facilitate clear
and both authors and readers will benefit.
On a more positive note, several articles in The Kingbird illustrate
how literature should be woven into an article. These appear in the
term, "Review of prior sightings". Use them as role models.