Journal of Field Ornithology – Instructions for Authors




The Journal of Field Ornithology uses a web-based submission and review system called Manuscript Central. Electronic submission speeds the handling of your manuscript and allows you to monitor its status in the review process at any time. The Manuscript Central web site has been optimized for Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.x and above, Netscape 7.0, 7.1 and 7.2, FireFox 1.0.4, and Safari 1.2.4. You will also need Acrobat Reader and the latest Java plug-in. Please note that the site will not work fully if you have disabled pop-up boxes.

Authors without access to a computer with the needed software should contact the editor, Gary Ritchison, by email at Authors are asked to submit one word processing file (preferably MS Word [.DOC or .DOCX], but .RTF may also be used) with the text, tables, and figure captions. Each figure should be submitted as a separate graphics file (300 pixels resolution as a .tiff [preferred], .eps, or .jpg format). When papers are uploaded onto the server, the system will convert them to .pdf file format for review. Consult the Help areas of Manuscript Central or the editor, Gary Ritchison, if you have problems.

Students can request that their paper be considered for the AFO student paper award by filling out the application at the following link:


Submitting the manuscript

You will first need to log into the system. Go to If you do not have an account, go to “Create an Account” to enter your user information; fill in at least the mandatory fields. If you have forgotten your password, go to “Check for Existing Account” and your username and password will be e-mailed to you.

Before you begin the submission process, you should also have the following information prepared to either key in or cut and paste into the forms found in the submission system: affiliations of the authors, authors’ names, e-mail addresses of authors (if you want them to be copied on the status of the manuscript), manuscript title, key words (5 – 7), and abstract. Key words should be words not already included in the title of the paper. You will also be asked to suggest possible reviewers and those potential reviewers you would like to exclude (up to four of each are permitted), and provide their names, affiliations, and e-mail addresses. The system also has a form box for entering comments to the editor that will act as your cover letter; if you want to submit a cover letter, please have that copy prepared to paste into the system. The cover letter should include (1) the title of the manuscript, (2) a statement that the manuscript (as a whole or in part) has not been published or submitted for publication elsewhere, (3) for multi-authored papers, a statement that all authors have contributed to designing and/or performing the research and writing the manuscript, and have read and approved the manuscript prior to submission, and (4) the name, phone number, e-mail address, and mailing address for the next nine months of the corresponding author.

After logging in, click on “Author Center,” then on “Submit First Draft of Manuscript.” Complete the information as requested. If you are interrupted during the submission process, it is possible to save what you have completed and finish the submission process at a later time. Once you have uploaded a draft of your manuscript, you will be given the opportunity to view the proof. Please check the proof to ensure that the .pdf file has translated successfully and to review your final manuscript. If you find problems, you may upload new drafts until you are satisfied with the file. Close the proof file. As the final step, you must submit the manuscript.

Once you have successfully uploaded a manuscript, you will receive an e-mail verifying that the manuscript has been submitted with your manuscript number. The editor will immediately receive an e-mail that your manuscript has been submitted. While your paper is in review, you can go to your “Author Center” in Manuscript Central to check on the status of your paper.

Manuscripts are published as Feature Articles, Reviews, Commentaries, or Book Reviews. Commentaries are brief papers that comment on articles published previously in the Journal of Field Ornithology. Reviews should cover the latest developments in an area of ornithology and should include an evaluation of available data, not just a compilation. Reviews will normally be published by invitation, but prospective authors are welcome to submit ideas or proposals for possible review papers to the editor. Book Reviews are published in the Recent Literature section of the journal. Interested book reviewers should contact Sabrina Taylor, School of Renewable and Natural Resources, Louisiana State University and LSU AgCenter, Baton Rouge, LA 70803 (Email:


Manuscript Format

General Guidelines

Prepare manuscripts carefully with attention to all details. Manuscripts that depart from these guidelines will be returned without review.

  • Assemble manuscripts in this order: title page, abstract, text (Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion, Acknowledgments, and Literature Cited), Tables, Figure legends, and Figures (with figures submitted as separate files in Manuscript Central). It is not appropriate to combine the Results and Discussion sections.
  • In the Introduction, given the particular focus of your study, provide relevant background information, explaining what is known, what is not known (what question or questions remain), and why additional study (your study) was needed; conclude by stating the objective or objectives of your study.
  • The Methods section should include sufficient details for the study to be repeated, and should contain a subsection describing the statistical tests and procedures used. Cite statistical software (e.g., SAS) and any other analysis programs here and in the Literature Cited. If reporting the results of analyses using the information theoretic method, describe and justify the a priori hypotheses and models in the candidate set, identify exploratory hypotheses, and state the criterion used to evaluate models, e.g., second-order AIC corrected for small sample sizes (AICc) and Akaike weights (wi). If you list a product, supply the name and location of the manufacturer. Give equipment model numbers.
  • In the Discussion, explain the importance of the results and place them within the context of previous studies.
  • Manuscripts should be double-spaced throughout (including the title page, tables, and figure legends); use the same font (no smaller than 12 point) throughout the manuscript.
  • Text lines should be numbered starting with the Abstract and continuing through Acknowledgments.
  • Margins should be at least 2.5 cm (1 in) on all sides of the page.
  • Place the first author’s last name and the page number (starting with the abstract on page 2 and continuing through the Literature Cited) in the upper right corner of each page.
  • Write in active voice and use U.S. English and spelling throughout the manuscript, except for foreign literature citations.
  • Table and figure citations should be in numerical order, e.g., do not cite Fig. 2 before the first citation to Fig. 1.

Authors should use recent issues of the Journal as a guide in preparing their manuscripts.

Title page. — In the upper left corner, provide the author’s name (e.g., R. T. Smith; R. T. Smith and P. R. Jones; or E. F. Hunt et al.) as a left running head and, below this, a short title (of not more than 50 characters, including spaces) as a right running head. In the upper right, provide the name and address of the author to receive proofs. Centered below these, provide the full title (double-spaced) and the name of all authors and their addresses at the time the research was conducted. Each author’s current address, if different, should be given as a numbered footnote at the bottom of the title page. The corresponding author should be indicated by providing his/her email address in a footnote. Use a recent issue of the Journal for correct formatting and style of author and address listings.

Abstract. — The second page should be an abstract that does not exceed 5% of the length of the paper. The abstract should explain the purpose of the study, describe the principal findings, and state the main conclusions. Many readers rely heavily on the abstract so it should be as informative as possible. Avoid uninformative sentences such as ‘The significance of these results is discussed. Below the Abstract, provide 5-7 key words or phrases (in alphabetical order) that describe the subject of the paper; these should not duplicate words in the title of the paper. The Spanish title and abstract will be prepared for all articles accepted for publication.

Text. — Begin the text (Introduction) on page 3. Do not include a heading (i.e., simply begin the text of the Introduction; do not include the heading ‘Introduction’).

  • English and scientific names of a species should be given the first time it is mentioned in the text. Scientific names should be in italics. Bird names should follow the AOU Check-list of North American Birds and supplements, the AOU South American Classification Committee Checklist for South American Birds, or, outside the Americas, the Avibase Clements Checklist.
  • The first letter of common names of bird species should be capitalized.
  • Use metric units.
  • Do not insert either a comma or a space in numbers less than 10,000 (e.g., 1232 swallows). For numbers greater than 9999, separate the hundreds and thousands places using a comma, e.g., 22,432 Broad-winged Hawks.
  • Use these unit abbreviations: second, sec; minute, min; hour, hr; month, mo; week, wk; year, yr.
  • Use the 24-hour clock (e.g., 05:00 and 17:00) and ‘continental’ dating (10 March 2012).
  • Define all symbols, abbreviations, and acronyms, but minimize their use.
  • Test statistics and degrees of freedom should be given with all P-values. P-values should be written as P = 0.025. Give exact values even for non-significant results (P = 0.67 rather than P > 0.05 or NS). Statistical tests should be clearly specified, and degrees of freedom provided as a subscript to the test statistic (e.g., F3,12).
  • Italicize the following: N (sample size), P (probability), t (t-test), F (F-ratio), U (Mann-Whitney U-test), r (simple correlation coefficient; Pearson r), z (Wilcoxon test), rs (Spearman rank-order correlation), R (multiple regression coefficient), and G (G-test).
  • Use ‘Figure’ only to start a sentence; otherwise use ‘Fig.’ (or ‘Figs.’ if plural).
  • Write out numbers one to nine unless referring to a measurement (e.g., five species, 5 km, or 5 min).
  • Use % rather than percent.

Acknowledgments. — Institutional affiliations are not allowed for persons thanked in Acknowledgments. Any ethics or animal care guidelines that were followed should be noted in the Acknowledgments.

Literature Cited. — List literature citations alphabetically by the first author’s last name.

  • Literature Cited entries (in a style conforming to that in the latest issue of the Journal) should be carefully double-checked against citations in the text.
  • For authors names, use large and small capital letters (i.e., small caps; see examples below).
  • Journal and publisher names should be spelled out in their entirety.
  • Text citations should be in the author-year format (e.g., Dixon 1990, Frydendall and Quade 1994, 1995, Whitt et al. 2008, Morton 2010a, b). Do not use commas between author and year; do use a comma between different citations by the same or different authors. When citing several references within parentheses, list in chronological order with the oldest first. If you cite or quote critical material directly from longer works, indicate the pertinent pages (e.g., Smith 2010: 23-24).
  • Unpublished papers should not be cited. Also, do not cite manuscripts that are in preparation or review and avoid citation of ‘gray’ literature such as technical reports by governmental agencies that may be difficult for other researchers to find. Articles that have been accepted for publication can be cited using the digital object identifier (doi) if the volume and page numbers are not yet known.
  • Regularly published serial publications containing chapters by multiple authors, such as Current Ornithology, Farner and King’s Avian Biology, and Studies in Avian Biology should be cited as journal articles. Accounts from the Birds of North America series should be cited using the style for book chapters.
  • Cite Internet resources only if they are important, reasonably permanent, and not readily available in print. Include the date you last accessed the website and use the following format:
  • BORDERS, L. B. [online]. 2004. The Breeding Bird Survey database project. (29 October 2013).

Examples of other citation styles:

Journal article
HOOGLAND, J. L., AND P. W. SHERMAN. 1976. Advantages and disadvantages of Bank Swallow (Riparia riparia) coloniality. Ecological Monographs 46:33–58.

SHARPE, R. S., W. R. SILCOCK, AND J. G. JORGENSEN. 2001. Birds of Nebraska: their distribution and temporal occurrence. University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, NE.

Book Chapter
ROGERS, C. A., R. J. ROBERTSON, AND B. J. STUTCHBURY. 1991. Patterns and effects of parasitism by Protocalliphora sialia on Tree Swallow nestlings. In: Bird-parasite interactions: ecology, evolution and behaviour (J. E. Loye and M. Zuk, eds.), pp. 123–139. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK.

Thesis or Dissertation
BROWN, C. R. 1985. The costs and benefits of coloniality in the Cliff Swallow. Ph.D. dissertation, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ.

Tables. — Each table should be double-spaced throughout on a separate page. Place the tables after the Literature Cited. Tables should be numbered sequentially and include a concise and informative title. Do not use additional sentences after the Table’s title; material necessary to clarify the table should be presented as footnotes to the table. Tables should supplement, not duplicate, material in the text or figures. Tables should be understandable without reference to the text. Do not use vertical lines in the table; use horizontal lines for the main heading and the end of the table, but not in the body of the table.

Figures. — Figures should be uncluttered, but convey a maximum amount of information; they should not duplicate material in the text or tables.

  • When preparing figures use a sans serif font (e.g. Helvetica, Arial) with capitals used for the initial letter of the first word only. Bold lettering should not be used. Details and text should be large enough to allow for reduction.
  • Units of axes should appear in parentheses after the axis name.
  • Do not use three-dimensional graphs or odd fills. The best shadings are black, white, and crosshatching, and the best point symbols are circles, squares, and triangles. Keys and other explanations should be included either in the figure legend or, better, on the figure itself.
  • Illustrations should be submitted either as original artwork/photographs or digital images. Hardcopies must be no larger than 21 × 28 cm (8.5 × 11 inches). Photographs must be sharp monochrome and of good contrast.
  • For digital images, please save line artwork (vector graphics) as Encapsulated PostScript (EPS) and bitmap files (halftones or photographic images) as Tagged Image Format (TIFF), with a resolution of at least 300 dpi at final size. Do not send native file formats. More detailed information on the submission of electronic artwork can be found at
  • Each hardcopy figure or illustration should have the authors’ names and figure number (e.g., Fig. 1) written lightly in pencil (not pen) either in a corner or on the back.
  • Original drawings should be large enough to permit reduction to the size they will appear in print.
  • Type (double-spaced) figure legends consecutively on one page.
  • Authors are encouraged to follow the suggestions of Kroodsma (2000, Auk 117:1081–1083) in preparing figure legends and titles of tables, with the main point of the figure or table clearly indicated in the legend or title.
  • Figures and tables should be designed to convey information when standing alone; extensive cross-referencing of them to the text (e.g., ‘see Methods’) is unacceptable.

Supplementary Tables, Figures, Videos, or Data. Supplementary material is available online (, but is not included in the printed version of the journal. Upload supplementary files at the time of article submission online. Do not include them in your manuscript file, unless it is a short Appendix. Supplementary material may include tables, figures, original and derived datasets, or multimedia files (such as sound files or videos). Please name and cite all supplementary files this way: Supplemental Table S1 or Supplemental Fig. S1, or Supplemental Video S1.

Spanish Translation. — The editorial staff will prepare a Spanish title and abstract for all articles accepted for publication. Authors are welcome to submit suggested Spanish translations.

Publication Date. — For manuscripts accepted for publication in Journal of Field Ornithology, the editor will inform authors of the anticipated publication date. Prior to publication, authors will receive page proofs and, at that point, have an opportunity to review their papers and make necessary corrections. Changes to the article cannot be made after the article has been published.

Author Material Archive Policy. — Please note that unless specifically requested, Wiley Blackwell will dispose of all submitted hardcopy or electronic material two issues after publication. If you require the return of any material submitted, please inform the Editorial Office or Production Editor as soon as possible.


Editorial Assistance

The Association of Field Ornithologists (AFO) offers a free service assisting authors of ornithological articles who are not native speakers of English. The goal of the Editorial Assistance Program (EAP) is to enable and encourage Latin American and other ornithologists to publish their work in widely read international journals. This is not a translation service, however. Manuscripts must be written in English (even if flawed), and an AFO volunteer will work with the authors to refine the writing into idiomatic English appropriate for scientific publication. It is often useful for the English version to be accompanied by one in the authors’ native language. It is important to realize that scientific content will not generally be addressed through this program, rather only suggestions for improving clarity and grammar will be provided. While submission of appropriate articles to the AFO’s own Journal of Field Ornithology is encouraged, it is not required for this program. In fact, editors of English-language ornithological journals are encouraged to direct manuscripts to this service when it can improve an article’s chance of acceptance. The EAP has created a database of AFO members willing to assist authors with their manuscripts. If interested in helping out as a volunteer with this program, please contact the EAP Coordinator. All inquiries from authors about manuscripts should be directed to Daniel M. Brooks, EAP Coordinator, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Houston Museum of Natural Science, One Herman Circle Drive, Houston, Texas 77030-1799, USA (phone +1 713-639-4776), e-mail Electronic submission of manuscripts to the EAP Coordinator via an email attachment is strongly encouraged.


Note to NIH Grantees

Pursuant to NIH mandate, Wiley Blackwell will post the accepted version of contributions authored by NIH grant-holders to PubMed Central upon acceptance. This accepted version will be made publicly available 12 months after publication. For further information, see


Page Charges

All authors are asked to contribute funds to help defray the costs of publishing their article. Page charges help maintain journal affordability for individuals and libraries and allow for the publication of articles by individuals who do not have access to funds, including students, avocational ornithologists, and researchers in developing countries. Full payment of page charges is not required of authors, but is expected when authors have grant funds designated for publication charges. In other situations, partial payments will be accepted. Individuals without access to funds to cover at least some of the cost of publishing their paper can request a waiver of page charges. The charge for printing a black-and-white page in the Journal of Field Ornithology is $92 per page.


Color Charges

Authors requesting that a figure or photograph appear in color in the printed version of the journal are required to pay the cost of such printing. The cost of color in the printed version of the journal is $562 per page. Authors may opt for color versions of their article to appear only in the on-line edition of the journal at no cost. Material would appear in black-and-white or grayscale in the printed version of the journal. If color is essential to interpretation and understanding of the material, then authors must have material appear in color in both the online and printed versions of the journal.

Only in extreme cases will the cost of printing in color be waived, and it will likely not be waived in full. The editor and publisher must agree to such a waiver. Authors must contact the editor to discuss a possible waiver before submitting a page charge form.


CC-BY for all OnlineOpen authors

If your paper is accepted, the author identified as the formal corresponding author for the paper will receive an email prompting them to login into Author Services; where via the Wiley Author Licensing Service (WALS) they will be able to complete the license agreement on behalf of all authors on the paper.


For authors signing the Copyright Transfer Agreement

If the OnlineOpen option is not selected the corresponding author will be presented with the copyright transfer agreement (CTA) to sign. The terms and conditions of the CTA can be previewed in the samples associated with the Copyright FAQs below:

CTA Terms and Conditions


For authors choosing OnlineOpen

If the OnlineOpen option is selected the corresponding author will have a choice of the following Creative Commons License Open Access Agreements (OAA):

  • Creative Commons Attribution License OAA
  • Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License OAA
  • Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial -NoDerivs License OAA

To preview the terms and conditions of these open access agreements please visit the Copyright FAQs hosted on Wiley Author Services and visit–License.html.

If you select the OnlineOpen option and your research is funded by The Wellcome Trust and members of the Research Councils UK (RCUK) you will be given the opportunity to publish your article under a CC-BY license supporting you in complying with Wellcome Trust and Research Councils UK requirements. For more information on this policy and the Journal’s compliant self-archiving policy, please visit:


Promotion of accepted manuscripts

AFO wants to see your important research reach as many readers as possible. To reach this goal, we have expanded our efforts to promote papers published in The Journal of Field Ornithology through our website’s blog and social media accounts. To assist us in this effort, we kindly ask that you provide the following supplementary content when submitting your final manuscript materials:

  • A short, blog-style write-up (approximately 500 words or less) that is easily read by both scientists and non-scientists alike.
  • At least 1 full-color photograph representing your work
  • Twitter account names of authors, labs, employers, departments, etc. (if applicable)

If you have questions about our social media promotion, please contact the AFO Webmaster, Matthew Shumar at