|Greg the famous flightless Takahe on Tiritiri Matangi|
|Endangered Sickleback on Tiritiri Matangi|
Birds of Hawaii, New Zealand, and the Central and West Pacific (Princeton University Press, 2011). This is one of the Princeton Illustrated Checklists, and I took it in my back pocket everywhere. It was very handy in a small size, and it had every bird I could expect to see, so it was very useful--especially since there aren't that many land birds in New Zealand, there weren't usually a lot of confusing species to have to separate! These Princeton Illustrated Checklists feature small but very serviceable illustrations, with brief species accounts and range maps on the facing page, a standard field guide layout we became comfortable with almost 50 years ago with the publication of the original classic Golden guide (dang, I still love that old guide!).
|Typical two-page layout of the Princeton Illustrated Checklist to the Birds of Hawaii, New Zealand, and the Central and West Pacific.|
Since this book covers all of the Pacific, it could be a good choice if you are also going to visit other islands some day. The drawback is, there will always be a lot of birds to look through in order to figure out which birds are supposed to be where ever you are birding. The maps help a lot with that--though I did find that with the seabirds, the range maps for many species may not have been completely accurate. But more on that later. Meanwhile, this was a great little book to carry around! You can also learn a lot about the distribution of birds in the Pacific with this little book--I especially liked the illustrated checklist to each region at the front of the book, where you can see a thumbnail of all the endemic species grouped by island group. Very cool.
|Paradise Shelducks in a park in Auckland.|
The Field Guide to the Birds of New Zealand (Viking, 2005) at the Auckland Zoo, I just had to have it. So that was my other bird book on my trip.
In almost every way the Heather and Robertson guide is a very different book than the Princeton Illustrated Checklist. The checklist is small (thinner than the old Golden guides at 7.3 x 4.9 x 0.7 inches and 14.4 ounces) while the field guide is big (3/4 the size of Big Sibley at 8.5 x 6.2 x 1.3 inches and 1.9 pounds). If he checklist is formatted like the Golden guide, this one is more like a hybrid between the Golden guide and Howell and Webb's Mexican guide. You still get the maps and species accounts across from the plate illustrations, but the illustrations are larger. And you also get a separate text section with very detailed species accounts covering the distribution, population size, conservation, breeding, behaviour, feeding, and a bibliography for each species! That's a lot to love!
|Typical two page spread of The Field Guide to the Birds of New Zealand. In addition to these large illustrations, maps, and facing text, you also get a larger often multi-page species account for each species.|
Others have called this the definitive field guide to the birds of New Zealand. I won't argue with that. It is amazing. The illustrations are more detailed than the checklist, and the maps seemed to be more accurate, especially for the seabirds. The only, and seriously for me it is the only drawback I could find with this book, is that it is so big that it isn't as easy to use and lug about in the field. While I often had the checklist in my jeans pocket, the field guide lived in my backpack. Granted, that spared it from a lot of the water that almost K.O.'d the checklist, and perhaps that's a good thing!
|Endemic Brown Teal on Tiritiri Matangi|