Guidelines for authors


Submitting manuscripts

Submissions are preferred as an electronic file from a commercial word-processing program. If a manuscript is submitted on paper, it should be typed, double- or triple-spaced in a single column. Use a 12-point font, preferably Times New Roman.

Authors can speed up the editing process by careful proof-reading of their manuscripts before submission. Especially, make sure that all citations in the text are included in the list of literature cited, and vice versa, and that spellings of author names and publication dates are correct and match. Proof-reading of the list of literature should be done more than once, since you as author are the person with the cited references in hand.

Manuscripts should be sent to the editor, whose name and contact points are given in the latest volume of the journal and here on this website. The editor will acknowledge manuscripts as promptly as other duties allow.

Topics for manuscripts

British Columbia Birds is the journal of record for reporting rarities or range expansions, the general status of species, avian ecology and behaviour of wild birds of B.C. Studies from neighbouring areas will also be considered for publication if birds found in B.C. are discussed in the manuscript.

Like regional journals elsewhere, it can publish new observations based on a few birds or even one bird. It can publish verifications of previous work, because such information can be valuable and might not find space in international research journals.

Suitable topics include distribution, abundance, extralimital occurrences or range expansion, reviews of status, banding, identification, plumage variation, moult, behaviour, feeding, breeding, habitat, ecological relationships, reviews or history and biography of ornithology.

Manuscripts summarizing field research are highly desirable. Annotated lists based on detailed study of an area could be a useful publication, although records from brief visits are more suitable for the BCFO newsmagazine, B.C. Birding. Papers based on laboratory research (e.g. physiology) are not suitable for the journal unless authors demonstrate strong links to avian behaviour or ecology. Advocacy articles will not be considered.

Process of review and publication

Two qualified persons, at least one of whom is a member of the Editorial Board, and the editor will review all submissions except for book reviews or reports of the Bird Records Committee. Reviewer comments will be sent to the author for consideration. The editor will accept the re-submitted manuscript if the comments have been adequately dealt with either by rebuttal or revision. The editor reserves the right to make final minor changes in format or wording but these must meet with the approval of the author(s). The editor will assist new authors in achieving a suitable format. Papers will be published as In press articles on the British Columbia Birds web site immediately after peer review and acceptance. The print version of journal is published at least annually.

General considerations of style

Writing style should aim at direct, simple sentences. Because your work was done in the past, use the simple past tense to describe the methods and results. The simple present and future tense can be used in the Discussion. Active tense and first person are usually suitable.

Technical terms should be defined clearly or avoided if simpler language will suffice. If an abbreviation or acronym is to be used, it must be defined the first time (e.g. “… the American Birding Association (ABA) which …”).

The official dictionary of the journal is The Canadian Oxford Dictionary. Scientific Style and Format: The CSE Manual for Authors, Editors, and Publishers is recommended for general style and the Harvard Referencing System for references

Use Canadian spelling (e.g. behaviour, colour, grey). The exceptions are in official names (e.g. Clay-colored Sparrow) and in listing titles of publications that originally used U.S. spelling.

Standard sequence of sections

The journal publishes full papers, short papers and notes. Most full papers should be organized according to the classical guidelines given below. Short papers and notes would usually follow a simpler format suited to their content, and it might be appropriate to mix some parts of methods, results and discussion. The formats of book reviews and reports of the Bird Records Committee will be set by their authors and the editor.

Title: A short, catchy title is usually best. It should encourage the reader to engage with the paper. Use lower case except upper case for initial letter of the first word, and initial letters of bird names and other proper nouns.

Author(s): Full name(s), affiliation(s), with mailing and email address for at least the author designated as the contact person.

Abstract: The abstract should be short. It must be devoted to what was discovered, and should start with that. Normally, the abstract needs to say little or nothing about what was done, since that is usually clear from the findings.

Key words: Select the most appropriate ones that future researchers might use to find your paper when searching the Internet. Use specific, relevant terms with a wide range, not just a repeat of words used in the title.

Introduction: Clearly state the technical objective(s) of your work. If it is scientific investigation with a hypothesis, state the hypothesis. In order to put your work into context, provide a brief review of the previous state of knowledge.

Methods: The Methods and Results tell what you did to increase our knowledge of the topic. The description of methods should be detailed enough that someone else could replicate your work. Describe in detail the experimental or sampling design(s), the procedures and any statistical methods used. For special equipment or computer software, document the manufacturer and model.

Results: Lead the reader through your results so that s/he can understand clearly what you found. Be concise. Refer precisely to parts of the data in tables or figures; do not require the reader to search through a table to find which line of numbers supports your statement. Explain the findings but do not discuss them here; this is a fine distinction but must be maintained.

Discussion: Discuss the meaning and significance of your results and compare them with other information in the literature. Describe the patterns of agreement but also point out areas that differ from what has been previously described. This should also be the section to examine inconsistencies or novel aspects of your findings. Finally, draw your conclusions and discuss the implications and current status of knowledge resulting from your work. Extensive reviews of existing literature should be put into a separate, labelled section.

Literature cited: See Citation formats below.

Acknowledgments: Include your short thanks to people or organizations that provided any significant assistance to your work.

Appendix: Some papers may need this as a place to archive detailed data. Format is flexible.

Species names

The title of the paper should use the full English (common) name of a bird and may use the scientific (Latin) name. The scientific name, in italics, should be included in the Abstract and in the list of Key words. The text of the paper should give the full English name and scientific name of each species on first mention. Thereafter, only the English name would normally be used. All names and taxonomic order should follow the latest edition of the American Ornithologists’ Union (AOU) checklist of North American birds, and supplements as published in the journal The Auk. The checklist can also be found online.

When numerous birds are listed in the body or tables, but are not central to the paper, English names may be used without scientific names with an acknowledgement that they follow the AOU checklist.

Full English names should be capitalized (e.g. American Tree Sparrow), but partial names should not (tree sparrow). In hyphenated species names, the second word is written in lower case (e.g. Red-eyed Vireo), except for hyphenated group names, which are both capitalized (e.g. Northern Pygmy-Owl). When two or more species are grouped under a collective name, the latter should appear in lower case (e.g. Brewer’s, Red-winged and Yellow-headed blackbirds). A shortened English name may be defined and used after first mention in the text (e.g. “… Northern Rough-winged Swallow (hereafter rough-winged swallow …”). If names are cumbersome or repeated frequently, an abbreviation can be defined and used, for example:”… Northern Rough-winged Swallow (hereafter r-w swallow) …” The journal does not use the upper-case, four-letter abbreviations.

For all non-avian taxa, use lower case for common names. The scientific name may follow, in italics, when appropriate.

Geographic abbreviations and descriptions

If abbreviations are used for provinces and states, they should be the standard geographic ones for international understanding, not the two-letter codes of the post office. For the provinces and territories, the abbreviations are: B.C., Alta., Sask., Man., Ont., Que., N.B., N.S., PEI, N.L., Nu., NWT and Yukon. Periods are used if there are two initials (B.C.) but not if there are more than two (PEI). The journal uses the traditional geographic abbreviations for U.S. states: Ala., Ariz., Ark., Calif., Colo., Conn., D.C., Del., Fla., Ga., Ill., Ind., Kan., Ky., La., Md., Mass., Mich., Minn., Miss., Mo., Mont., Neb., Nev., N.H., N.J., N.M., N.Y., N.C., N.D., Okla., Ore., Pa., R.I., S.C., S.D., Tenn., Vt., Va., Wash., W.Va., Wis., Wyo. Abbreviations are not used for Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Ohio, Texas and Utah.

Dates and times

When dates are tabulated or listed, either the large-to-small or the small-to-large system may be used (e.g. 2013 June 02 or 2 June 2013). If the format results in an awkward sentence, alternatives can be used (“… returning on June 3rd, I found …”). The 24-hour clock should be used for times (18:00, not 6:00 p.m. and not 18:00 hours) and the time zone indicated at first mention (Mountain Daylight Time, Mountain Standard Time, Pacific Daylight Time or Pacific Standard Time).


All measurements should be in metric units. Use the official Canadian and International spellings and abbreviations: millimetre (mm), centimetre (cm), metre (m), kilometre (km), millilitre (mL), litre (L), gram (g), kilogram (kg), tonne (write in full for clarity), and year, day, hour, minute (yr, d, h, min).

Tables and figures

Tables and figures are desirable to illustrate findings. Photographs and drawings are welcome, especially to illustrate habitats, rarities, plumage, actions or postures. Colour can be used if it clearly improves the presentation.

The captions of tables and figures should be clear and concise, but complete so that the reader understands the nature of the contained data. A table or figure should be able to stand on its own.
Tables and figures should be submitted as separate files rather than being inserted into the text. For manuscripts on paper, each table and figure should be on a separate page. The production editor will normally insert each table or figure closely after its first mention in the text.

Figures should be submitted as digital images preferably, although original artwork or photographs will be accepted. Original drawings will be reduced in size for publication so should be large enough to permit reduction to the size they will appear in print, but in no case should they be larger than 21 × 28 cm (8.5 x 11 inches).

All digital figures must be sharp, of good contrast, and of sufficient resolution so that when printed, there is no pixilation. Colour images must still be effective if converted to a greyscale image. Crop figures tightly so that the significant part of the image spans the width of the image. Submit all digital images of a size suitable for a two-column figure: 17.6 cm wide (6.93 in; 2070 px) at a minimum of 300 dpi. The Production Editor will decide the final size of the image that appears in the journal. Photographs are preferred in the TIFF image format although the JPEG or PNG image formats will also be accepted. If submitting photographs as JPEG images do not compress them further from the original image.

Line drawings, graphs, and maps can be submitted in TIFF, EPS (Encapsulated PostScript), WMF (Windows Meta File) or PDF format. Ensure that the type size of any text is appropriate for the scale of the figure at its printed size and try to use the same size text throughout. Preferred fonts for figures are sans serif, such as Arial (not serif fonts, such as Times New Roman). Avoid using light text on a dark background.

Tables should be prepared using the Table option of the word processing program; tabbed columns should not be used. Normally, the only horizontal lines should be at the top and bottom of the headings and the bottom of the table; there should be no vertical lines. Columns of numbers should be aligned on the decimal. Text and numbers should be centred within the rows. The caption should precede the table and each table must be numbered consecutively.

Citations in the text

Authors should place their findings into the context of relevant literature. In the text, citations should take the following forms: “Smith (1993) made no mention of singing …” “… but no eggs were evident (Jones 1958)”. Accordingly, the only information cited in the text is the name(s) of the author(s) and date of publication. An exception is when a direct quotation is included in the text, in which case the page of the quotation should be included (e.g. McNicholl et al. 1990b:204). The same technique can be used to identify the page number of a particular item such as a photograph, in a book or other publication. If authorship is by an organization with a long name, and it is cited several times, the name may be abbreviated, e.g. (USFWS 2005), and explained in the list of Literature cited in the following fashion: USFWS [U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service] 2005, etc.

Cite both authors of two-author publications (Brown and Green 1976), but only the senior author of three or more (White et al. 1995). If there are two or more references for one statement, write them chronologically, separated by a semi-colon (Campbell 1911; Bell 1917), except that all references by a single author should be listed together at the date of the earliest publication (Fisher 1950; Edwards 1984, 1993; Davis 1985). If there are two or more references with identical authorship and date, label the dates alphabetically (Smith, 1973a,c,f) and carry those designations into the list of references (Smith, J.B. 1973a … Smith, J.B. 1973b …).

References to internet sites of societies or organizations may be given, for papers or other resources located on the site. Normally, citations should not be made of material on an individual author’s website.

Information from an unpublished document or a personal communication can be treated in the text as a normal citation (e.g. Smith 2007). The item should then be listed in the Literature cited, with plenty of detail (see examples in next section). For a personal communication, it is also acceptable to put the pertinent information in the text, without providing a reference in the Literature cited, for example (Pers. comm., Andrew C. Smith, Dawson Creek, B.C., 2007 October 31).

Format for references

The section Literature cited follows the text of the paper. There you will list alphabetically, all references cited in the text and no others. Follow the Harvard Referencing System. Each citation must include the names of all authors, with surname and initials (e.g. Campbell, R.W., not Campbell, R. Wayne). If there are two or more references by the same author(s), list the name(s) in each reference, do not use dashes or ditto marks. For joint authorship, start with the surname and initials of the senior author, then use initials first for the co-author(s). After the name(s), a single space is followed by the date of original publication and a period. After another space, list the title with the exact words and punctuation of the original, in lower case except that upper case is used for the first letter of the title, and the first letter of species names and proper nouns. (Possible exception: initial-letter capitalization of species names should be exactly that used in the original.) If the original title of a cited article is in a divergent style (e.g. ALL CAPITALS, or First Letter of Each Word capitalized), reformat it according to the style of British Columbia Birds for improved readability. Errors in titles should not be corrected, but may be noted by inserting [sic] after the error or by inserting the omission within square brackets.

a. Serial publications
If the reference was published in a serial (journal, magazine or newsletter), the name of the serial is written in italics (or underlined to indicate italics). Abbreviate British Columbia in serial names (B.C.), but the practice in this journal is to write all other words in full. After another space, give without spaces the volume number, a colon and the page number(s) for start and end of the reference. Do not include the issue number unless each issue in a volume is paginated independently, as is the case in most newsletters and magazines. Most scientific journals are paginated by volume, making the issue number redundant.

Bellrose, F.C. 1959. Lead poisoning as a mortality factor in waterfowl populations. Illinois Natural History Survey Bulletin 27:235-288.

Grass, A. 1995. A study in scaup. B.C. Naturalist 33(1):25.

Griffith[s], D.E. 1973. Notes on the birds of Summit Lake Pass[,] British Columbia. Discovery 2:45-51.

Rappole, J.H., W.J. McShea, and J. Vega-Rivera. 1993. Evaluation of two survey methods in upland avian breeding communities. Journal of Field Ornithology 64:55-70.

b. Books or portions of books
If the reference is a full book, give author(s), date, title (in italics), then the name of the publisher and the city of publication. Province or state is not required for most major cities in Canada or USA, but if uncertain follow with the province, state or country. Total number of pages in the book can be useful guidance for readers, but is optional.

Orians, G.H. 1980. Some adaptations of marsh[-]nesting blackbirds. Princeton University Press, Princeton, N.J.

If the title is a chapter or section in a book, follow the title of the chapter with page numbers of that chapter, then the editor(s) of the book in the following manner: p. 123-134 in J.B. Smith (ed.), or p. 123-134 in J.B. Smith and K.C. Jones (eds.). Follow with italicized title of the book, the publisher and city of publication.

Tomback, D.F. 1983. Nutcrackers and pines: coevolution or coadaptation? p. 179-223 in M.H. Nitecki (ed.). Coevolution. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.

c. Conference papers
For papers in conference proceedings, add the name, geographic location and dates of the conference, and if given, the editor, date of publication and publisher. In general, give as much information as possible, since conferences can be difficult to track down.

Robertson, I., M. Gebauer, G. Ryder, and R. Toochin. 2000. Observations of two species at risk in mainland southwestern British Columbia: Hutton’s Vireo and Western Screech-Owl. p. 267-273 in L.M. Darling (ed.). Proceedings on the biology and management of species and habitats at risk, Kamloops, B.C., 1999 February 15-19. Volume 1. B.C. Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks, Victoria, B.C., and University College of the Cariboo, Kamloops, B.C. 490 p.

d. Reprinted materials
In the unusual case that a citation was from a reprint, it is desirable to add the reprint information in parentheses after the original reference.

Bent, A.C. 1946. Life histories of North American jays, crows and titmice. U.S. National Museum Bulletin 191 (reprinted 1964 by Dover, New York).

e. Materials from the Internet
Normally, citations should not be made of material on an individual person’s website. Give the date that information was accessed [inside square brackets].

Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory. 2005. Partners in Flight species assessment database. <> [2006 August 8].

Tobalske, B.W. 1997. Lewis’s Woodpecker (Melanerpes lewis). The Birds of North America Online. (A. Poole, ed.). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, N.Y. <> [2012 March 3].

Tozer, D. C., C. M. Falconer, and D. S. Badzinski. 2013. Common Loon reproductive success in Canada: the west is best but not for long. Avian Conservation and Ecology 8(1): 1.
<> [2013 October 24].

f. Unpublished information
For an unpublished document or personal communication, give all the useful information that is available so that a reader could hope to find the source of information, whether it was an organization or a person.

Smith, A.C. 2007. Survey of municipal natural areas. Northwoods Ornithological Society, Dawson Creek, B.C. Unpublished report, 104 p. [Copy in Municipal Office]

Smith, A.C. 2007. Personal communication, Andrew C. Smith, Dawson Creek, B.C., 2007 October 31.

Reviews of books and audio-visual materials

The review starts with complete details of the item as shown in examples below. The nature of the text in the review is variable, as shaped by the reviewer. A picture of the cover accompanies the review.

Birds of the Churchill region: status, history, biology, by Joseph R. Jehl, Jr. Trafford Publishing, Victoria, B.C., 2004. 155 pages; illustrations. Soft cover. $30.50. ISBN 1-4120-3107-9.

Beginners guide to B.C. bird song, by John Neville and Mel Coulson. Neville Recordings, 138 Castle Cross Rd., Saltspring Island, B.C. V8K 2G2, 2003. Two compact discs, $26.00 per set.

For further information, or to clarify situations not covered above, please contact the current editor of British Columbia Birds.