Pseudo-Bird Guide Review

The Visitor’s Guide to the Birds of the Eastern National Parks: United States and Canada.

While I was perusing the nature section of our local Half Price Book Store to see if they had any new field guides, I happened to spot this title that made me reach for closer inspection. Living in the eastern part of the country, and having a affection for our National Parks system, I naturally snatched it up. What a deal for $6.00.

As the title implies, this isn’t a field guide in the traditional way. As the author states in the Preface, ” It’s purpose is to help the park visitor better appreciate the park and it’s bird life”. This is a good little book, 388 pages, as a companion book for your field guide. So let’s say your planning a trip to Acadia National Park, this might be a good book for you.

The meat of the book is divided into 4 sections: Atlantic Maritime, Appalachian Mountains, Coastal Plains, & Southeast and Virgin Islands. Mr. Wauer visits each of the 33 different National Parks, Seashores, Recreation Area, and a National Military Park. As the title implies, he describes 8 different parks in Canada, and 1 in the Virgin Islands. All the rest are in the United States.

The chapters aren’t real long , and they’re a pretty easy read. He begins each chapter with his own personal experience of his visit to that particular park. He’ll focus on  certain species that will help the reader get a better feeling for the park. For instance, as he was describing Fort Jefferson National Monument, he went into great detail when he described the hundreds of   Magnificent Frigatebirds that were riding the thermals over the fort.

The next section of the chapter talks about “The Park Environment”. this is where he explains the geography of the park. He’ll also give examples of the different flora and fauna of the park. The nice part of this chapter is at the end, when he includes the address and phone number of the Superintendent of that particular park. Pretty handy if you need additional information.

The longest part of the chapter is called, “Bird Life”.  This is where the book, I feel gets better. he’ll go into detail as to the whereabouts of certain species, and the best season to visit. Most of the primary bird species that are normally found at the park he’s describing will be included in this part of the chapter. When he describes a certain bird he’ll go into detail as to their field markings, and the particular surroundings that he spotted the bird.

The last, and shortest section is called “Birds of Special Interest”. Mr. Wauer uses this time to pick out 6 to 10 different birds that sticks out in his mind and gives a brief description of the bird. Field markings, and where you might find one. If your a moderate to experienced birder , this part my bore you.

To wrap up this review, I’ll admit that I do like it for what it’s intention is meant to be, a companion book. I hope that some day I’ll be able to visit half of what was covered in this book. And if I do visit one, I’ll take this book along. But, as a experienced birder I’m not going to rely on one book to help me when I visit someplace new. I’ll do my homework, and refer to this book as needed. But first I have to get a passport, or I can forget Canada.

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