How to contribute

British Birds welcomes original contributions from amateur and professional ornithologists alike. Material for publication should have something new to say about birds recorded in the Western Palearctic or species of significant interest to birdwatchers in the region. Articles might range from one or two short paragraphs describing a newly recorded bird behaviour, to more detailed submissions on (for example) the identification of a difficult species, the results of a local study which might have wider implications, or the findings of a major research project. Key topics of interest for the journal include behaviour, conservation, distribution, ecology, identification, movements, populations and taxonomy. Take a look at a recent issue of BB or at some of the articles published on the website to see the type of material we publish.

British Birds publishes material dealing with original observations on the birds of the Western Palearctic. Except for records of rarities, papers and notes are normally accepted for publication only on condition that the material is not being offered in whole or in part to any other journal or magazine. Photographs and drawings are welcomed. Referees are used where appropriate, and all submissions are reviewed by the BB Editorial Board or Notes Panel.

Papers should be concise and factual, taking full account of previous literature and avoiding repetition as much as possible. Opinions should be based on adequate evidence. Authors are encouraged to submit their work to other ornithologists for critical assessment and comment prior to submission. Such help received should be acknowledged in a separate section. For main papers, an abstract summarising the key results and conclusions should be included, but should not exceed 5% of the total length. Authors should carefully consult this issue for style of presentation, especially of references and tables.

English and scientific names and sequence of birds should follow the BB list or, for non-West Palearctic species, The Howard and Moore Complete Checklist of the Birds of the World (Dickinson 2003). Names of plants should follow Field Flora of the British Isles (Stace 1999). Names of mammals should follow Mammals of the World (Duff & Lawson, 1004). Topographical (plumage and structure) and ageing terminology should follow editorial recommendations (Brit. Birds 74: 239-242; 78: 419-427; 80: 502).

Contributions should be submitted (preferably by e-mail) to editor@britishbirds.co.uk Most word-processing applications are suitable, but, if you are not using an up-to-date, standard program, it is best to submit two versions, one in a basic text format such as RTF (Rich Text Format). Hand-drawn figures should be in black ink on good-quality tracing paper or white drawing paper; lettering should be inserted lightly in pencil, while captions should be typed separately. Please discuss computer-generated maps and figures with the Editor before submitting them.

For use in main papers, notes and letters, photographs should ideally be submitted as digital images (although we can still accept 35mm transparencies or high-quality prints). Digital images are generally best submitted as jpegs (saved at the highest-quality setting) with a resolution of 300 dpi and the image sized to at least 15 cm along the longest axis. Lower resolution images or video-grabs will be used more sparingly, and usually only when there is no alternative (for example, in ‘Recent reports’). All digital images should ideally be submitted in their original state. Only images of the very highest quality will be considered for the cover, and these should be sized to 276 mm wide x 256 mm deep. We also feature artwork on the cover according to availability (for guidelines, see below).

Images published in the magazine may also be reproduced here, on the BB website.

Authors of main papers (but not notes or letters) will receive five free copies of the journal (plus three each to subsidiary authors of multi-authored papers). Further copies may be available on request in advance, but will be charged for. A schedule of payment rates for contributors (including authors, artists and photographers) is available from the Editor.

Guidelines for artwork on the cover of BB

British Birds measures 170 mm wide and 250 mm deep. All artwork submitted for the cover should be at least 20% larger – 212.5 mm x 312.5 mm, or in those exact proportions thereafter. To allow for a little leeway and cropping margins at the printers (known as bleed) an additional 10 mm needs to be provided on all sides, giving a total minimum image area of 232.5 mm x 332.5 mm. Your painting should cover the whole image area but nothing important to the painting should be in the bleed area, since it will be trimmed to a greater or lesser degree.

The BB logo, title and volume details remain in the same format on every issue and are in the same position on the cover. It is very important to consider this when planning your design. The top 20% (or the top 70 mm at 232.5 mm x 332.5 mm dimensions) must be diffuse with no strong contrast that would interfere with the clear reading of journal’s title. Do not allow important features (such as your bird or its support) to run through it.

The headings to the main articles each month are printed on the cover, either set in a column towards the bottom left- or right-hand side of the cover, or running across the bottom. The artist will not know what they will be, nor how much room they will take up but you should allow an average amount of space for them, judged by looking at recent issues. The painting here should also be diffuse and of a mid tone to ensure clarity. Look back over previous issues to compare the readability against the varying backgrounds.

Your painting may be of any bird (or birds) on the BB Western Palearctic list, preferably not a species used on a recent cover as an artwork or a photograph. They must not infringe copyright (ie, they must not be copied from another image). You should place your bird in a suitable background taking great care that the scale of the surroundings is correct (no giant birds on 10″ fence posts or birds perched on walls made of 2″-long bricks please). Subjects of a very macabre (a Great Black-backed Gull skinning a live Puffin) or controversial (a Ruddy Duck being shot) nature may not enhance the chances of your design being chosen.

A reproduction fee of £100 will be paid to the artist at the time of publication, and the painting will be returned to the artist after use. Clearly this does not reflect the time and effort invested in artwork, but it does provide a platform to showcase the piece. BB will be happy to advertise the piece for sale inside the front cover, and/or promote a forthcoming exhibition or book (etc.). All paintings used remain the copyright and property of the artist.

If you have a painting to be considered as a BB front cover, please e-mail a low resolution scan (or send a colour print) to the BB editor, Roger Riddington, at:

Spindrift, Eastshore, Virkie, Shetland ZE3 9JS; e-mail editor@britishbirds.co.uk

All potential cover designs will be assessed by the BB art consultants and the editorial team – hopefully you will appreciate that we cannot promise to publish a piece that we haven’t seen first! We look forward to hearing from you.

Alan Harris Art Consultant, British Birds