Forty-four Years of The Sunbird – a Tribute to Scientists and Amateur Ornithologists Alike

Richard Noske

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    The content of The Sunbird, journal of Birds Queensland (Queensland Ornithological Society), over 44 years from 1970 to the end of 2013, is reviewed and compared with that of The Australian Bird Watcher (ABW),
    published by the Bird Observers Club over 44 years, from 1959 to 2002 (Ley 2011). Given its restricted geographical scope (mainly Queensland), Sunbird compares well with the nation-wide ABW, having just under half the total number of contributions and authors. Refereed articles comprised an identical percentage (88%) of contributions in both journals, and the proportions allocated to each major subject area were remarkably similar. However, while the vast majority of major contributors to ABW were amateur ornithologists, almost half of those to Sunbird were institution-based scientists, whose contributions, in terms of volume, exceeded that of amateur ornithologists (58% vs 42%, respectively).

    About 9% of articles concerned studies conducted outside Queensland, mostly in northeast New South Wales. Not surprisingly, for studies within Queensland, regional coverage was heavily biased (47% of all articles) towards the populous southeast. Passerines were the subject of about 40% of articles, commensurate with their representation among all birds, but only 22% of the pages devoted to breeding behaviour concerned passerines. Relatively few articles in the journal concerned migration, and the majority appeared before 1990. Yet data on the timing of migration are important in determining the behavioural responses of birds to climate change and other threats. Early volumes of the journal featured the results of the QOS Annual Bird Count and Garden Bird Survey, yet these pioneering projects, which
    provided rich sources of data for Sunbird articles, were short-lived. As scientists are increasingly obliged to publish in high impact journals, the collection and publication of breeding and migration data have become the responsibility of birdwatchers and citizen scientists. The Sunbird remains an important and highly respected vehicle for the publication of
    such information.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1-14
    Number of pages14
    JournalThe Sunbird
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2015


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