Proposed Change to the American Birding Association’s Countable Area

The ABA Area is the American Birding Association‘s sanctioned region for “countable” birds. It includes Canada, the French possession of Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon, and all of the U.S. minus Hawaii.

American Birding Assocation LogoLike many organizations during a tough economic time, the American Birding Association (ABA) has lost some membership and can even be considered to be an “aging” birding club.

In the July 2009 issue of Birding (ABA’s bi-monthly publication) an opinion piece written by Michael Retter on the future of birding focused on this trend and the possibility of altering the ABA area to encourage more membership.

Three ideas were proposed:

  1. Add Hawaii, Mexico, Bermuda, and Greenland to the ABA Area
  2. Add Hawaii, Mexico, Bermuda, Greenland, Central America, and the Caribbean to the ABA Area
  3. Eliminate the ABA Area

Each of these proposals offers a thoughtful alteration for this long-standing organization.

But we feel a fourth plan may be the best solution of all. And while we’re not trying to drum up controversy, any of these plans is bound to be met with quite a bit of initial resistance.

Include all of North and South America in the ABA Area

From any United States birder’s point of view, traveling anywhere southward from the United States border is a treat of colorful, exotic birds and lifers galore. The addition of some of the most species dense regions on the planet would mean birders could seek out thousands of new birds to add to their lists.

From a conservationist’s viewpoint, the expansion would have a “ripple effect” on protecting birds of conservation concern. Instead of birders seeking out one or two rare birds along the border of the U.S. and Mexico, they would plan entire trips into species-rich areas south of the border.

As more birders ventured south to see more birds, a wealth of knowledge would be collected and share with local organizations trying to conserve habitat. The increase in ecotourism would help the local communities even more, growing the desire to protect the birds.

Many of the neotropical migrants that spend most of their lives out of the current ABA area would be given new emphasis to protect them as well.

There would be a definite increase in birders in both the U.S. and Canada as well as places south as they would be given more exposure on the wonderful wildlife they have and the benefits of keeping habitats intact. Younger birders from the Americas would be encouraged to get involved and to understand the important connection between the varying geographic regions.

The American Birding Association would benefit the most from all this. Establishing a new criteria that would encompass a huge area would encourage international birding and not just for those traveling from the current ABA area. International membership would increase as birders from all the Americas would have a place to turn for all the benefits the ABA has to offer.

From a marketing standpoint, the ABA could use this new area to promote all sorts of tours, detailed guides, other publications, festivals, and more. Done right, this could place the ABA as the premiere bird club of the Americas for a long, long time.

The first “A” in ABA stands for “American” so including all the Americas wouldn’t alter the core branding. In fact, it would enhance it enormously.

6 thoughts on “Proposed Change to the American Birding Association’s Countable Area

  1. I’m not advocating any of the proposed ideas, but wanted to mention that the impact to local economies in the border areas of TX, NM, AZ, & CA might be substantial. Many of these communities depend on birder dollars. I’m just saying…

  2. Chip – completely valid point. That would definitely need to be weighed into the mix. Our personal experience with birding in AZ and TX is that we would continue to enjoy going there regardless but would probably use it as a jumping off point to regions just south.

    There is a stigma for many about “crossing the border” as well and it would be nice to alleviate that in the process.

  3. As the author of the aforementioned opinion piece, I’d fully support this idea if it came to pass. What I do know for sure is that the status quo needs a kick in the behind.

  4. Michael – I fully enjoyed your article and agree that the status quo needs a kick. A “big” change may be a bit risky but done right can have such monumental rewards it will be well worth it.

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