Guest Post: Thick-billed Parrots of the American Southwest

This post was contributed by John A. Moretti, co-author of a recent paper in The Wilson Journal of Ornithology on the occurrence of Thick-billed Parrot remains at archaeological sites in the Southwest.

John Moretti during a study of avian osteology at the Museum of Texas Tech University. Photo courtesy of John A. Moretti.

The American Southwest conjures images of giant saguaro cacti, Gila monsters, and vast deserts. This landscape and ecology are a starkly different from the tropical forests and savanna of Central and South America, but preserved within the iconic ancient Native American pueblos of the American Southwest are the skeletons of Scarlet Macaws. Genetic and isotopic data show that the over 100 individual Scarlet Macaws found at sites such as Wupatki and Chaco Canyon were imported from Mesoamerica. Those highly intelligent, brightly colored birds appear to have held ritual significance for Southwestern cultures, and their transport into the region was part of an ancient cultural exchange of both objects and ideas. Scarlet Macaws are the most common member of the parrot clade (i.e., Psittacidae) in archaeological sites within the present-day United States, but other species, including Military Macaws, Thick-billed Parrots, and even a rare few parakeets also occur. Those species are generally regarded by archaeologists as exotic objects, transported into the region from present-day Mexico—but could one of them have originated much closer?

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WOS Membership Renewal Info – Online Portal is Now Live!

Your WOS membership can now be renewed online via the new member portal.

For first time users of the portal, gain access by clicking here. You will be asked to enter your email address, please use the one you typically receive WOS emails to and/or was associated with your WOS membership account last year. You will then be asked to provide a password.  Password requirements are at least 7 characters long and include both alpha and numeric characters.

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Joint Society Statement on Ornithological Field Safety

WOS recently became aware of a public allegation of a sexual assault by a well-known birder that occurred during a bird-watching excursion in a metro-Atlanta park. The professional ornithological societies of the Americas have come together in solidarity with a statement affirming our commitment to maintaining the safety of everyone participating in ornithological field activities or exploring the natural world.

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An update on Volume 132 of The Wilson Journal of Ornithology

The Wilson Journal of Ornithology has released its latest issue (Volume 132, Number 2) on the journal website (  The printed version of this issue is in production at Allen Press and was mailed to print subscribers on February 4th.

The WJO Editor, Managing Editor, and our partners at Allen Press continue to work hard to chip away at the huge backlog of papers that piled up in our peer review pipeline due to the illness and subsequent resignation of John Faaborg as Editor in early 2019, and the untimely death of Acting Editor Mary Bomberger Brown in late 2019. We apologize to WOS members and WJO authors for the lingering production delay in the wake of these unfortunate events. Several papers that have been accepted for publication in the next issue (Volume 132, Number 3) have appeared as Online Early Articles on the journal webpage, and other accepted papers will continue to appear as that now-completed issue moves to the production phase, which takes about six weeks. We have begun to assemble the contents of the final issue of Volume 132 and are hopeful that it will appear closely on the heels of Volume 132 Number 3.

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Apply Today for WOS 2021 Research Grant Awards!

The Wilson Ornithological Society is now accepting applications for the 2021 Research Grant competition. See below for more information, application instructions, and submission links. Applications are due February 1st, 2021.

Please direct specific inquiries regarding grant applications to Dr. Letty Reichart, We look forward to receiving your applications!

This information is also listed on our permanent Research Grants webpage:

Each year, the Wilson Ornithological Society offers five categories of research grants. The focus of each differs somewhat, as does the amount of the award. Willingness to report results of the research as an oral or poster paper at an annual meeting of the Wilson Ornithological Society within the next 5 years and a brief write-up and a photograph of the awardees for the webpage is also a condition of all grants.

Applicants should be current WOS members or willing to become members of WOS.

Application instructions for 2021 award are available here as a PDF for download.

Applicants are asked to submit their proposals electronically to the following Google Form:

Please have your adviser or another person familiar with your research upload a pdf letter of recommendation online at the following link:

Deadline for applications and recommendations: 1 February 2021
Louis Agassiz Fuertes Grant

The Wilson Society’s most prestigious award is available to all ornithologists, although graduate students and young professionals are preferred. Any avian research is eligible. Up to two awards of $2500 are given annually.

George A. Hall / Harold F. Mayfield Grant

This award is limited to independent researchers without access to funds and facilities available at colleges, universities, or governmental agencies, and is restricted to non-professionals, including high school students. Any kind of avian research is eligible. Up to one $1000 award is given. Formerly known as the Margaret Morse Nice Award

Wilson Ornithological Society Research Grants

Up to four awards of $1500 are given annually, for work in any area of ornithology. Two of these awards will be limited to research by Masters students.

Paul A. Stewart Grants

Preference will be given to proposals for studies of bird movements (based on banding, radio or satellite telemetry, or similar methods) or an emphasis on economic ornithology. Up to four awards of $1000 are given annually.