Sunday, May 19, 2013

Books for Birders

The Warbler Bible has come forth! This is easily the most comprehensive and fantastic warbler specific guide covering North American Warblers. I am amazed and impressed with each of its features.

The first few pages teach you how to use the book followed by another 100 pages of darn useful stuff you need to become a warbler i.d. expert. I really enjoyed the sectioned called "What to Notice on a Warbler". The "Visual Finder Guides" are perfect for showing warblers from a variety of angles, especially those you are most likely to come across in the field. 

Sonograms feature prominently in comparisons and in species profiles. Seeing those sonograms really helps me internalize the sounds.

Each species profile has icons the quickly communicate great information like behavior, color, undertail view, range, and where on the tree you're most like to see the species. Tons of photos of each species from all angles including age, sex and molt. A helpful selection of comparison images for similar looking species is included too.

I could say more about this must-have book, but the authors made videos so you can see for yourself by clicking here.

The Warble Guide by Tom Stephenson and Scott Whittle is published by Princeton University Press as is list priced at $29.95, but is available for only $18.99 at Amazon.

Jamie Bastedo has been an enthusiastic supporter of the American Birding Association's Bird of the Year and we've just rolled with the celebration embracing his new book "Nighthawk!"

This is fun little story about a Nighthawk born in Canada that likes to break with the norm and do his own thing. It follows his journey south and back north again and all of the challenges and peril he faces. While a work a fiction, it does bring to the forefront the grueling nature of migration and proposes scenarios that delight, charm, scare, and inspire.

I thought this book may have been written for children, but there is some foul language and even a couple adult innuendos such that if I were reading it to my kids, I'd probably edit out on the fly.

I had fun reading this book which is available for $11 on Amazon.

I'm usually sycophantically positive in my reviews, but I had a hard time with this one. I only made it three quarters of the way through and put it down out of frustration, so my opinions are not benefited by a complete reading. I found this fake bird in conservation peril by evil greedy natural resource harvesters to be extremely cliche. The author chose to use real places, including my own state of Idaho and my beloved Argentina, but then references some birds in Idaho as if they were common and regularly occurring. Frankly, I just couldn't overcome all this mingling of pseudonyms and real names in addition to the overdone story line. If you want to give this book a shot, you can get the Kindle version on Amazon for as little as $5.49.

I like this little pocket guide with its key facts, a fun photo and an illustration from the big NatGeo field guide. I learned that Goldfinch may in fact migrate as one was found 1000 miles from where it was banded. Interesting! When a book is limited to 160 species, it must be tough making decisions about what to include and what to leave out and we could all debate this for years, but I think they did a decent job. There are some mistakes. For example, the claim that the House Sparrow is decreasing in North America while increasing in Europe is certainly a simple reversal.

This is a great book for beginning birders as it will help them get pointed in the right direction and they will sense from its pages the wonder and excitement of birds. You can get it for under $10 on Amazon.

The World's Rarest Birds is a beautiful coffee table book featuring  the most threatened birds around the globe. Gorgeous photography, cool maps, graphs and tables, all will entice you to learn more about these birds and to care. The book divides the birds into regions for the convenience of reference. This hardbound large and stunning book is available for $30.34 on Amazon.


  1. What a great selection of bird books! The last book seems to be particularly interesting. I am inclined to place an order. Thanks for sharing:)

  2. The Warbler Guide really appeals to me. A book that I could use right now during spring migration in the Midwest. Great selection!