The Birds of New Jersey by William J. Boyle Jr, and photographic editor Kevin T. Karlson sets an all new standard of excellence!
This is not a field guide for identifying birds in New Jersey. It is a book literally about the status and distribution of each species documented in New Jersey, as indicated in the subtitle. The text and maps describe when and where these birds have been seen in New Jersey.
Even though this isn't an i.d. guide, there are one to three birds species discussed per page along with an average of one photo per page....beautiful photos taken by popular names like Crossley, Lehman, and Karlson and several others. I am assuming that all of the photos were taken in New Jersey, even the photos of review species birds. While else would the Vermilion Flycatcher photo be out of focus?!
What's more, the opening pages acknowledge the importance of eBird! I wonder how much eBird sightings maps helped contribute to the quality maps contained in The Birds of New Jersey.
The Birds of New Jersey is a very impressive book and will be a treasure to every New Jersey birder and anybody who wants to go birding in New Jersey. I did ask myself, "What's the purpose or usefulness of a book like this?" At first, I thought it might just be a novelty item as it is fun to look at, like a fine collection of something cool. Thinking on it further, I have come to some better conclusions about the useful nature of a book like this. The Birds of New Jersey is a quality reference book. It will help those birding in New Jersey to have a better understanding of the status of each species. Birders reporting rare species will be much better educated. It will also increase bird awareness in New Jersey.
Now I would love to see this type of book in a companion set; cross-referenced to the birding hotspots of New Jersey. The great birding locations are mentioned throughout the book, so can you imagine how convenient it would be to have the companion book with maps and information about those birding hotspots?!
I would also like to see books like this produced in a digital format for smartphone apps. Bird information can become outdated within months. The digital format would allow purchasers of this book to always have the latest and greatest information available.
Frankly, I'm jealous that none of the states in the intermountain west have a book that can even compare to this. New Jersey, and specifically Cape May, seems to always be on the leading edge in our birding world, in culture, enthusiasm, technology, and now publications. Good on ya NJ birders!