Open Access Policy

This journal provides open access to all of its content on the principle that making research freely available to the public supports a greater global exchange of knowledge. Such access is associated with increased readership and increased citation of an author’s work.

See below for additional policy information.

About the Journal

On behalf of the Association of Field Ornithologists, Journal of Field Ornithology publishes original articles that emphasize the descriptive or experimental study of birds in their natural habitats. Articles depicting general techniques, emphasizing conservation, describing life history, or assessing published studies or existing ideas are appropriate. The Journal publishes studies from throughout the world, which may include banded birds or populations. We actively encourage submissions from nonprofessional ornithologists and from ornithologists from groups underrepresented in the sciences.
Over the last decade, the Journal of Field Ornithology has consistently ranked in the top ten for impact factor among ornithological journals. As an online, open-access journal, we offer rapid progression through the peer-review process and early views on our website after acceptance.

About the Association of Field Ornithologists

The Association of Field Ornithologists (AFO) is one of the world’s major societies of professional and avocational ornithologists dedicated to the scientific study and dissemination of information about birds in their natural habitats. Founded in 1922 as the New England Bird Banding Association, AFO shortly thereafter became the Northeastern Bird-Banding Association. This origin promoted an emphasis on bird banding and field techniques, always with field studies as a focus. Field studies continue to be a focus and, with new techniques in molecular ecology, bioacoustics technology, and behavioral ecology now available, field studies of birds are approaching ever-new questions. AFO encourages the participation of nonprofessionals in research and emphasizes conservation biology of birds. For more information or to become a member, visit the Association of Field Ornithologists’ website.

Editorial Assistance Program

The Association of Field Ornithologists (AFO) offers a free service assisting authors of ornithological articles who are not native speakers of English. 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 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. 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 dbrooks@hmns.org.

Manuscript Type

Unless specified differently below, papers reporting research results should generally use (but are not limited to) the classical format (Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion, Literature Cited). Length is restricted to ~7000 words exclusive of tables, figures, and literature cited.

Topic descriptions include the following:

Biology of Tropical Birds

  • Open Submissions
  • Peer-Reviewed
  • Indexed

Our largest gaps in ornithological knowledge lie in the tropic; we welcome articles on any aspect of tropical ornithology globally.

Avian Behavior, Ecology, and Evolution

  • Open Submissions
  • Peer-Reviewed
  • Indexed

Empirical studies testing long-standing theories and new concepts in ornithology, focusing on behavior, species interactions, or evolutionary ecology.

Avian Conservation and Management

  • Open Submissions
  • Peer-Reviewed
  • Indexed

Research into and evaluation of projects designed to protect bird species or populations and avian-relevant habitats and ecosystems; applied ornithological studies.

Ornithological Methods

  • Open Submissions
  • Peer-Reviewed
  • Indexed

Description and critical evaluation of new and innovative research methods developed for or re/applied to avian biology, conservation, and management.

Review and Meta-analyses

  • Open Submissions
  • Peer-Reviewed
  • Indexed

Systematic reviews, opinion-and-perspective pieces, and formal, quantitative meta-analyses aimed at synthesizing and moving forward a conceptually and/or empirically united topic in ornithology.


  • Open Submissions
  • Peer-Reviewed
  • Indexed

Short papers (1000 word limit) designed to respond/follow up on papers published in recent issues, or to respond to issues raised in other forum articles. Forum papers may also raise attention on issues that were not specifically addressed in the paper. The Editors-in-Chief reserve the right to limit ongoing debates on the same topic to one response and one counter-response. To submit a response go to the original article and select the appropriate link on the right hand side panel

Other Contributions

  • Open Submissions
  • Peer-Reviewed
  • Indexed

Manuscripts that are appropriate for the Journal of Field Ornithology but do not fall under the above categories.

Regular issues are published quarterly, with issues available as “in progress” as soon as articles are published.


There is a publication fee of $1250 US for all accepted papers. Extra fees apply if papers exceed the recommended length. Beginning October 2022, invoices sent to Canada will be charged GST/HST.

We are not-for-profit and these fees help offset operational costs and permit open access to the full text. Authors are invoiced shortly after their article is accepted. There is no charge to submit an article nor is there a processing fee.
Payment must be received before an article can be published. Many universities have grant programs to cover all or part of the cost of publishing in open-access journals. To find out if yours does, contact your library or copyright office.


Publication Fee Waiver Policy – Full or partial waivers of the article publication charge (APC) may be granted to support authors from low- and middle-income countries and authors that are either: (A) students whose supervisors and co-authors lack funding to support publication; (B) avocational ornithologists or authors from bird banding stations whose co-authors lack funding to support publication; (C) from historically underrepresented groups in ornithology such as those working at Historically Black Colleges/Hispanic Serving Institutions/Universities and Native American Colleges whose authors and co-authors lack funding support; and (D) authors in other exceptional circumstances. Publication fee waivers must be requested at the time of submission; the granting of a waiver will have no bearing on the decision-making process (editors and reviewers do not have access to waiver-request information). Please note that JFO is a not-for-profit journal working with a not-for-profit publisher and we have a limited budget annually for waivers. Waivers are distributed on a quarterly basis, therefore not all qualifying submissions will automatically receive waivers. If you and your co-authors do not have funds to cover the APC cost, please ask your department chair or institution head if there are funds available to cover all or part of the publication costs before requesting an APC waiver.

To request a waiver, authors must provide a brief explanation and justification for the request and how much money authors are able to contribute to support publication costs (in US$).


Authors may withdraw their article at anytime prior to copy editing for a partial refund. Once the copy editing process has been initiated, no refund will be issued.

Please address any general questions regarding the fee policy or refunds to: managing_editor@journal.afonet.org.



This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.



Jennifer Smith, Chair
Dan Ardia
Caren Cooper
Valentina Ferretti
Julie Jedlicka
Susan Pagano
Matthew Shumar

Peer Review

During the peer review process, the Editor-in-Chief makes an initial appraisal of each manuscript. If the topic and treatment seem potentially appropriate for the journal, the manuscript is assigned to a subject editor who oversees the review process. Once the review process has been completed, the subject editor recommends acceptance, revision, or rejection of your manuscript. The final decision is made by the Editor-in-Chief.

Journal of Field Ornithology has a “double-blind” review process: authors are not told who is reviewing their manuscript and reviewers do not know whose manuscript they are reviewing. Author identity is revealed only to Subject Editors, Guest Editors, and EICs. Reviewers are informed of the author’s identity upon acceptance or rejection of a manuscript. After a decision is reached, a reviewer is free to contact the authors privately about the manuscript.

A decision on the manuscript generally may be expected within 1.5 months of submission; delays in obtaining reviews may prolong this process. Manuscripts are sent out for review electronically, and all correspondence takes place via e-mail. Although the peer-review process is accelerated by the use of electronic communication, traditional high-quality, peer-review standards are applied to all manuscripts submitted.

Publication Decisions

The journal has a double-blind review process that is overseen by a Subject Editor who makes a recommendation on the manuscript to the Editor-in-Chief. That recommendation can include rejection from the desk of the Subject Editor without further review. The Editor-in-Chief has the authority and responsibility to accept, reject, or request revisions to the manuscript. Core criteria concern scope – the extent to which the manuscript fits with the aims and scope of the journal in terms of topic and approach and adheres to the format of the manuscript type; and quality – that it demonstrates coherence, rigor, and originality, and that it is accessible to a broad readership and conforms to highest standards of ethics and respectful research.


The editor and any editorial staff will ensure that information regarding submitted manuscripts is kept confidential.

Fair Review

Editors will evaluate manuscripts for their intellectual content without regard to race, gender, sexual orientation, religious belief, ethnic origin, citizenship, age, or political philosophy of the authors.

Disclosure and Conflicts of Interest

Unpublished materials in submitted manuscripts must not be used by the editor in their own research without the written consent of the author.


We may invest extra time and resources to support authors from outside conventional centers of academy and research, including those for whom English is not their first language or researchers who do not have access to the training needed to produce high-quality academic publications. On occasion when we judge that the submissions show great promise (in terms of novelty, quality of supporting data, etc.), we might work extensively with authors over several submissions and this may take considerable time to produce a publishable manuscript.

Guidelines for Subject Editors

Subject Editors are very important actors in making a successful and exciting journal. They do critical work and are valuable members of the team, bringing diverse knowledge and expertise to support the aims of the journal.

Your task is to:

  1. Assess whether you have the expertise to handle the manuscript. Please make a decision on whether you will act as Subject Editor for a manuscript as soon as possible so that if we need to find another SE we can do so quickly.
  2. Make an initial assessment of whether a manuscript is within the scope and likely to be of interest and publishable in the journal. In other words, is it of a sufficient standard to be sent for review? If you do not judge it to be in scope, or that it is not of sufficient quality, then you can reject it before sending it for review.
  3. Allocate reviewers using the online system. You may add new reviewers if you can’t find specific expertise or if you know individuals who are not already in our database. The system automatically generates and sends invitations to reviewers. Please avoid obvious conflicts – for example, a reviewer at the same institution as the authors. We encourage a diversity of reviewers from different parts of the world, different backgrounds, and different career stages. Please note that obtaining at least two different reviews may entail inviting as many as 10 reviewers; you may change the number of required reviewers so that you can simultaneously send out 4 or more invitations to speed up the process.
  4. Assess the review comments and make a recommendation to the Editor-in-Chief. To do so, do make sure you have read the article and have a personal opinion on it and on the comments from reviewers. Please add your detailed and constructive comments and provide clear instructions on how a manuscript can be improved and what changes are necessary, emphasizing which comments are particularly important.
  5. If manuscripts are revised and re-submitted, again assess whether they need further external review. If necessary, invite further reviewers or send to original reviewers, or make a recommendation to the EIC. Repeat this process until a final recommendation can be made.
  6. Please contact the managing editor or EIC if you have any queries or are unsure about your options or a decision.
  7. There are options within the online system for you to directly contact the authors and reviewers. You will not be anonymous.
  8. Please treat manuscripts with absolute confidentiality, and please aim at all times for respectful and helpful comments.

Contribution to Editorial Decisions

Peer reviews should assist the editor in making editorial decisions and may also assist the author in improving the paper. We appreciate the time and effort that careful reviewing demands and are grateful for reviewers to provide in-depth comments as well as constructive and respectful suggestions to help authors and editors alike.

Manuscript number

Please make note of this number and use it when corresponding with the Managing Editor or Subject Editor about the manuscript.

Manuscript type and length

Different manuscript types have different styles and length requirements. If a manuscript exceeds the posted word length limit, please bring it to the Subject Editor’s attention.


This manuscript is a privileged communication. Please do not show it to anyone or discuss it, except to solicit assistance with a technical point. If you feel a colleague is more qualified than you to review the paper, do not pass the manuscript on to that person without first requesting permission to do so. Your review and your recommendation should also be considered confidential.


In fairness to the author(s), you should return your review within 3 weeks. If it seems likely that you will be unable to meet this deadline, please request an extension or notify the journal of your inability to complete the review in the specified time using the “Request Extension” button.

Conflicts of interest

If you feel you might have any difficulty writing an objective review, please use the decline to review by selecting the “Unable to do the review” button on this page. If your previous or present connection with the author(s) or an author’s institution might be construed as creating a conflict of interest, but no actual conflict exists, please mention this issue in the “Comments to the editor” section at the beginning of your review.

Guidelines for Reviewers

Conflicts of interest

If you feel you might have any difficulty writing an objective review, please use the decline to review by selecting the “Unable to do the review” button on this page. If your previous or present connection with the author(s) or an author’s institution might be construed as creating a conflict of interest, but no actual conflict exists, please mention this issue in the “Comments to the editor” section at the beginning of your review.

Comments for the author(s)

The aim of this process is to ensure that only papers of the highest quality, relevance, and novelty are published in the journal, and to identify concrete ways in which those papers with the greatest potential can be significantly strengthened.

Please include both general and specific comments bearing on the following questions:

  1. Is the paper a relevant contribution to the focus and scope of the journal?
  2. Is the paper based on a sound analysis of the literature (e.g., critical overview, conceptual/analytical framework), on a robust analytical approach (e.g., reliable and consistent methodologies to gather and/or analyze data), and is the main message and the conclusions well supported?
  3. Is the paper innovative, in terms of the topic addressed and/or the arguments that support it and/or in the way the paper was developed (e.g., does the paper report on data or ideas that have been widely explored)?
  4. Does the paper tell a cohesive story, with a clear message that is tightly reasoned throughout the different sections?
  5. Is the paper accessible to a wide audience that includes scientists and practitioners and written in a way that is easy to follow and interesting?
  6. Is the current length of the manuscript appropriate (e.g., does the manuscript greatly exceed the posted word limits; what portions of the paper should be expanded, condensed, combined, or deleted; is the division between the main article and the appendices appropriate)?
  7. Does the introduction adequately frame the objectives of the manuscript with the current state of the knowledge and in ways that are potentially of interest to the readership of the journal?
  8. Are the objectives adequate (e.g., clearly stated; feasible; coherent with the introduction, the methods used, consistent with the results obtained; concordant with the conclusions)?
  9. Are the methods (for gathering and analyzing data and/or for undertaking syntheses) robust and adequate (e.g., reliable; consistent with the objectives and the conceptual/analytical framework; adequate sample, data analyses; adequately applied)?
  10. Is the data clearly presented (e.g., are all the figures, tables, and appendices necessary; can you verify easily the results stated in the text; can they be read easily, legible, and clearly labeled; can they be simplified; are there any contradictions)?
  11. Is the discussion well-grounded in the results and of interest to a wide readership (e.g., does it invite/explore new ideas and implications)?
  12. What are the major strengths and weaknesses (please be as specific as possible of the manuscript in its current version, including the title, abstract, keywords, methods, results, discussion, and conclusion) and what is the potential for the paper to significantly improve?

Using the online review system

Reviewers must use the website to agree to review, request a time extension, read the assigned manuscript and submit their review.

If you have forgotten your password, please use the password reset link below the login prompt and follow the steps to have your password emailed to you.

To access the manuscript assigned to you, log into your user interface, click on the “Reviewer” profile, and then on the manuscript title.

We recommend that you type your review out and save it in your word processing program and then paste it into our review form to prevent loss of information in the possible event of a connection time-out.

At any time reviewers may contact the journal office for more information on how to use the website, or for help obtaining a new password.

Originality and Plagiarism

The authors must ensure they submit entirely original works. If the authors use the work or words of others in their manuscript, they must ensure that this has been appropriately cited, quoted, or where necessary, appropriate permissions have been obtained from copyright holders.

Multiple, Redundant, or Concurrent Publication

It is the author’s responsibility to ensure their submission has not been published elsewhere, nor is it presently under consideration by another journal. However, papers that have been archived on pre-print sites may be submitted to the journal.

Authorship of Paper

Authors include all those who have made significant contributions to the manuscript. The types of contributions can be very diverse and include: conceiving and undertaking research, contributing embodied knowledge, operationalizing actions toward more sustainable pathways, co-producing knowledge and solutions, analyzing data, writing, or revising the manuscript. The corresponding author will verify with co-authors their full names and affiliations and ensure that all co-authors have approved the final version of the paper for publication.

Acknowledgment of Sources and Support

Authors should acknowledge the work of others that has been influential to their manuscript and properly cite the work. Each citation in the text must be included in the Literature Cited section and every reference in the Literature Cited must be referred to in the text. We also encourage authors to acknowledge the support received by diverse stakeholders, including informants and respondents, translators, and interpreters, involved in different stages of research.

Disclosure and Conflicts of Interest

All sources of financial support should be disclosed and any substantive conflicts of interest should be included in a statement.

Fundamental Errors in Published Works

It is the author’s obligation to notify the journal editor of any significant error or inaccuracy in their published work and to cooperate with the editor to deal with the issue either by retracting the paper or adding an erratum.

Submission Check List

It is the author’s responsibility to read and follow all items on the journal’s Submission Preparation Checklist prior to submitting their manuscript.

Undertaking Respectful Research

We require that research must have been approved by appropriate institutions and according to accepted procedures. This includes, for example, the Institutional Review Board, ethics committee, Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC), local authorities, government research bureau, or others. We expect authors to have gone beyond established permissions or clearances, and to have undertaken research in ways that are fully respectful of all the people involved and potentially affected by it. This needs to be clearly described and evidenced in the article. Free Prior and Informed Consent of participants should be sought in culturally appropriate ways. Reciprocity and care should be promoted at all stages of research, including sharing resources, undertaking inclusive and meaningful consultations, honoring embodied local knowledge, ensuring the protection of confidential and/or sensitive information, and accepting and appreciating differences.

Research Involving Animal Subjects

Any article describing research involving animal subjects is required to be approved by their institution’s animal use and care committee and to have the IACUC’s institution name and protocol number provided.

There are a variety of reasons why authors may wish to change their names – gender transition, marriage, divorce, legal name change, or professional name change, among others. These former names can often carry a stigma or unpleasantness and can lead to potential confusion. This policy ensures a sensitive and fair process for authors and avoids confusion when former names are compiled together with current names on a CV or webpage, or when citations are taken from indexing services automatically.

Authors wishing to change their name on a published article, for any reason, should contact the journal, giving the article details, the name they wish to change, and the name they wish it changed to. We will then republish the article (in the same issue and volume, same DOI, without an erratum, and without altering previous citations or citation counts), and request the article be reindexed by Clarivate’s Web of Knowledge. Other indexing services, including Google Scholar, will reindex the article automatically. To maintain authors’ privacy, there will be no notice or indication of the name change. To do this, we ask that authors provide us with one or more of the following:

  • evidence of using the name in a professional context, such as other journal publications linked with the same ORCID, thesis, or book chapter
  • legal document showing name change (e.g. deed-poll name change certificate or other government-issued identification)
  • letter from supervisor or line manager (on letterhead) of the research institution linked to the article (if the institution is different, evidencing either legal or common-use name change)
  • letter from any co-author of the article (on letterhead)
  • letter from a GP, accredited gender identity specialist, or national gender identity clinic, addressed to the journal.

The Association of Field Ornithologists (AFO) is an international not-for-profit organization and one of the world’s major societies of professional and avocational ornithologists dedicated to the scientific study and dissemination of information about birds in their natural habitats. AFO recognizes that organizational and societal barriers to participation and inclusion in ornithological activities exist and is committed to creating and fostering opportunities for people from diverse backgrounds to participate at all levels of the organization. AFO and its affiliated publication, The Journal of Field Ornithology, will support diversity in its membership and leadership regardless of ethnicity, country of origin, cultural background, race, age, disability, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic situation. We pledge to 1) actively seek and include diverse perspectives in our activities and decision-making by diversifying representation in membership, committees, and leadership, 2) identify and extinguish the barriers throughout AFO’s programs and activities that hinder diverse participation, and commit the financial resources to achieve these goals; and 3) better our awareness on the impacts of scientific research and conservation activities on marginalized communities. The inclusion of diverse human experiences and perspectives is necessary to achieve a truly just and equitable society and our mission of conservation and science is best realized when we commit to these values.