The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 79, July 1975 - April, 1976 Page: 50
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
Kincaid included, as an addition to the original work, individual outline
maps of the state of Texas for each species, with all counties delineated.
Symbols placed within the counties tell the story of seasonal occurrence
and distribution for the particular species, as well as indicating the exist-
ence of specimen records. This visual presentation simplified and com-
pressed the data Oberholser had accumulated, permitting the elimination
of huge volumes of writing. But it brought its own problems. When written
data was reduced to symbols and affixed to maps, gaps in distribution
records became apparent. Many bird species were missing from counties
where they were assumed to most certainly occur. To Kincaid it was as
unthinkable as it would have been to Oberholser to go to press without
closing as many gaps as humanly possible. To him as to his predecessor it
would have been impossible to arbitrarily install even so ubiquitous a species
as the Mockingbird in a particular county solely on the basis of its verified
presence in all surrounding counties. Therefore his assistants traveled
400,000 miles during all seasons and combed the state, concentrating on the
counties which were-and probably still are-largely ignored by birders,
verifying the presence or absence of suspected species.
Overall, theirs was a race with time. Conciseness and completeness were
their goals. The attack was multipronged. The manuscript must retain
Oberholser's original plumage descriptions and work on taxonomy (because
Texas ornithologists do not all follow the same taxonomical system, names
from the American Ornithological Union checklist were also added for
each bird). To keep Oberholser's vivid details complete the editorial scis-
sors had to be applied vigorously to other areas. Yet the status of each
bird species had to be based on the very latest reports. Change in environ-
ment and its accompanying effect on bird life had to be thoroughly ana-
lyzed. All data had to pass a final editorial scrutiny. Kincaid guided an
able corps of assistants through this veritable morass of accumulated
knowledge while in the world outside birders watched birds and waited.
In these later years, as never before, the amateur ornithologist (as the
birder likes to think of himself) came into his own as a source of informa-
tion. The hobby of birding had matured and assumed more than the mere
semblance of a national organization. Participation increased sharply. Pub-
lications dedicated to the subject printed field observations on a regular
basis. Expanding coverage by a legion of birders illumined shadowy areas
for the editor of The Bird Life of Texas and his assistants, even while
increasing the pitfalls in their path. How reliable were the observers? Did
they have sufficient experience in the field to identify a troublesome
species? Did integrity fall prey to enthusiasm and enthusiasm to imagination?
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 79, July 1975 - April, 1976, periodical, 1975/1976; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101203/m1/68/: accessed August 20, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.