The scientific journal Wildfowl has published papers on the ecology, biology and conservation of wildfowl and other waterbirds since the mid-20th century. For many years (up to and including 2020) it was published by the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT), with the first volume (then known as the Severn Wildfowl Trust Annual Report) appearing in 1948. This initial volume included the minutes of the first annual general meeting, along with a report on the numbers of wild geese wintering at the New Grounds, Slimbridge, an update on the use of rocket nets on the marshes to catch geese for ringing, information on the Berkeley New Decoy and an inventory of birds in the Trust’s waterfowl collection.
In 1961 the Wildfowl Trust Annual Report was divided into two parts: an account of the Trust’s activities for its Members and scientific papers submitted for publication in the journal. The name changed to Wildfowl (entitled Wildfowl 19) in 1968, the thinking behind the change being carefully described by Geoffrey Matthews and Malcolm Ogilvie in their editorial at the time. By this stage Wildfowl was an established international journal, attracting papers from leading researchers of the day interested in studying wildfowl and in the conservation of these species.
In the intervening years Wildfowl has continued to provide a high scientific output, and the journal is widely circulated. Yet the advent of the electronic age facilitates reaching an even wider audience. From 2009 onwards, in addition to the printed copies of Wildfowl, papers published in the journal have also been made available electronically to all interested parties on the WWT website. Scanned earlier editions of the journal have also now been added and made available through the Open Journal System, to provide a ongoing source of information for researchers, conservationists and all those with an interest in wildfowl and their wetland habitats.
In 2020, the WWT took a decision that it would no longer publish the journal, as part of its plans to refocus as a wetland conservation charity. The journal however continues to thrive with support from the waterbird research and conservation community, and is now being published by “Wildfowl Press”, a newly-formed publisher dedicated to the journal, with pdfs also being made available online as usual.