North American Birds

VOLUME 70 NO1 2017

A Quarterly Journal of Ornithological Record Published by the American Birding Association. The mission of the journal is to provide a complete overview of the changing panorama of our continent’s birdlife.

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N O R T H A M E R I C A N B I R D S 4 E D I TO R S ' N OT E B O O K / T H E C H A N G I N G S E A S O N S : O F G A L E S , W I TC H E S , A N D G AT H E R I N G S TO R M S We see the gathering storm and we're ready to face it, ready to put forth an effort that honors the traditions established in yester- year while also fully keeping in mind the au - dience of both today and tomorrow. We look forward to accomplishing this, together. The "Franklin's Witch" Returns Birders across the continent, and particu- larly those situated in the Midwest and the East, were focused on a freight train of a storm that came barreling across the heart of the U.S. during the second week of No- vember 2015. Such continental storms have come to be known as "November Witches" in the heartland—powerful low pressure systems that, while rare, have been known to bring with them a variety of severe weather, ranging from tornadoes to bliz- zards to hurricane-force winds. In the eyes of the non-birder, the most notorious of these storms occurred in 1975 and resulted in the sinking of the SS Edmund Fitzgerald in Lake Superior on 10 November. Many birders will surely recall the Witch of 1998, frequently referred to as the "Great Storm" or "Great Cyclone," which eerily occurred at the same point on the calendar, blasting the Midwest on 9–10 November during its eastward march. For a more detailed assess- ment of this particular system, we recom- mend a perusal of Changing Seasons: Low Pressure, which appeared in Volume 53, Number 1 of this journal. For students of bird status & distribution, the main take- away from this event was the displacement of previously unheard of numbers of Frank- lin's Gulls to the Eastern Seaboard. While not technically a "November" Witch, the freakishly strong low pressure system of late-October 2010 also deserves a mention in the context of these late-autumn events. Its passage 10-14 days earlier than the No- vember storms meant that it would have more of an impact on a greater number of southbound migrants, a storyline that was particularly relevant along the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast coastlines, interestingly also areas that have seen some of the largest avi- an hauls from these November storms. And naturally we must also include Sandy with any such discussion; while that 2012 storm derived the bulk of its strength from the At- lantic Ocean, significant additional oomph was delivered by a November Witch that traversed the continent a few days before the calendar turned to the eleventh month, assisting in the delivery of a significant number of inland migrants and rarities to the East Coast in Sandy's wake. Included in We, just as you, have a ready understand- ing that NAB, in its fullest form, will never be instantaneous—no matter how quickly we publish any given issue. We recognize that the main story, the big headline, the hottest news will have long since moved on to something else by the time we tackle the current issue in print. These initial efforts via social media should be seen as the first leg of a bridge that will connect the per- manent record supplied by the journal to the headlines and calls to action facilitated by modern technology. We see an impor- tant function for both ends of the informa- tion spectrum, and don't see why the two cannot complement each other. We believe that if we can create a cycle where social media, eBird, and the internet continually feeds into the journal and vice versa, it will mean that we have been successful in our objective to maintain the mission, voice, and identity of NAB in this volatile era of rapid-fire information. At the end of the day, we strongly believe that there will always be a need and a place for North American Birds. We know that you believe that, too. The methods we utilize to collect and disseminate certain content may continue to change, but the content itself— and more importantly, the quality and stan- dard of that content—must stay the same, and this journal should always serve as a permanent record of the continent's birdlife. something we're doing that you like, let us know; we'll take all the encouragement we can! If there's something you can't stand, please do let us know that too. We ask for your patience in this time of transition, but equally we ask for your input and your ideas. After all, it is the passion of the NAB community that allows this publication to continue to flourish and persist. Those who follow The ABA Blog (blog. will have noticed that we recently published several posts detailing significant avian events as they occurred. Some of the subject matter has included Dickcissels moving north and east of their core range during early summer, the spread of Wood Storks and Roseate Spoonbills well north of expected Southern haunts, high-elevation species unexpectedly dispersing to lowlands in the West, an autumn surge of Long-tailed Jaeger and Sabine's Gull reports, and the Red Crossbill invasion of 2017. Mike and I will also make occasional appearances on The ABA Podcast, where we will dissect recent events, make folks aware of current events, and peer into the Magic Eight Ball ahead of future events on both regional and continen- tal levels. You can expect more of this in the near future, as we view this effort as an es- sential component in keeping NAB relevant to as large an audience as possible and to al- low the journal to have a more constant and prominent presence. The vast majority of the Franklin's Gulls associated with this event moved through immediately after its passage, but some, like this first-winter individual near Cape May, New Jersey, lingered for a few days. Photo by © Sam Wilson.

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