Category Archives: Guides & Books

Book Review

It’s been a long time since I bought any new bird related books, so it came as quite a surprise while breezing through a Half Price Books store the other day where I stumbled upon this title in the “Nature” section.

Published in September of 2013 I remember this book when it first came out and read a couple of reviews. What really drew me to this book was the beautiful photo of the Harlequin Duck in flight (a life bird for me at the time) on the front cover. I actually gave a thought of maybe purchasing it, however when I saw the retail price of $35.00 I reconsidered. And for myself whenever I procrastinate on buying anything like this I usually forget about it altogether.

Now I’m a huge fan of Peterson’s Reference Guides and Field Books, and this one authored by Ken Behrens and Cameron Cox is no exception to just how well written and photographed this book really is. Plus covering a subject such as Seawatching, the title itself covers a style of birding that most birdwatchers have done on occasion. For myself I don’t get to the ocean as often as others might, but this book doesn’t restrict us to this kind of Seawatching. I can’t count how many hours I’ve spent at the end of Harveysburg Road looking out at scores of Ducks, Gulls, and Grebe’s at Caesar Creek Lake, or standing on the banks of the Ohio River in the freezing cold of winter checking Gull flocks hoping to pick out a lone Scoter species.

This reference book is divided into 2 sections. The species accounts and descriptions of 112 bird species within 15 different families as they would appear either flying or sitting on water. It;s this section alone where the photographs of the birds really help with those troublesome ID problems. Photographs by themselves make up almost half of this section, that’s how important this portion of the book is. Being able to pick out field markings from one Loon or Scoter species from the next in a fast moving flock has it’s difficulty, so they cover these subjects and more in this 624 page volume.

The second, and smallest section of the book covers some of the hottest of hot spots for Seawatching. For the most part these 47 birding hot spots are on the ocean, while the rest dwell on locations on the Great Lakes and other inland locations in the eastern half of the United States. From L’Anse Aux Meadows in Newfoundland, down the eastern seaboard to the Dry Tortugas, around the Gulf of Mexico to South Padre Island, common species are described and when’s the best time to visit.

It’s really a great book , and if you spend any time at all Seawatching, I’d recommend it. Maybe I should have picked it up when it was first published, however good things do come to those who wait and when I saw the price of $10.00 for this perfect condition book I made a dash for the cash register.

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New Book

I had a couple of errands to take care today, and one of them was to make a trip over my local Half-Price Book Store and pick up this copy of “Birds Of Texas” that I saw a few weeks back. This book will become a necessary item as my trip to the Rio Grande Birding Festival nears in 2015. I realize that November 2015 is a ways off, but if you know me at all it’s never too early to brush up on species that I’ve never seen before.

When I arrived I made my way back to “Nature” section and started to peruse the shelves of everything bird related. After a little help from an employee I was able to find the book. It turned out to be a older Peterson guide (circa 1968), and what I was really interested in was something newer. However all was not lost as my eyes glanced on a book that I own but not in this form.

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This hard bound edition is a beauty and in almost perfect condition. And if you are a Ohio Birder, you’re well aware of Bruce Peterjohn and his massive work by the same name. I have this edition in paperback and it’s invaluable to any Ohio Birder who needs a great reference book. However what sets this book apart from the book by the the same author is the illustrations by William Zimmerman. Original oil painting that really set this book apart. Granted the same information is still there, just like the other book, but now with the addition of some great avian art work it now becomes a book you’d be proud to set out on the coffee table.

Here’s an example of just one paintings from the book. A pair of Barn Swallows and one Cliff Swallow. This is such great stuff and a super addition to my library, but not just for the painting. Remember it’s written by Peterjohn, and that means it’s a top shelf reference book for any serious birder.

I’ve had some pretty good luck when visiting Half-Price Books, and today was no different. I’m looking forward to sitting down and going through cover to cover on this little gem.

New Bird Guide

I’ve been lusting after this field guide since I first set eyes on it a few years back when Jon showed up at one of our trips with it. I believe it’s out of print so trying to purchase a new copy was price prohibitive. So I checked the used copies on Amazon and found a fairly decent copy for just under $10.00. And with shipping and handling it came to a little of $13.00 all told. Quite a bargain if you ask me.

As with most field guides it covers most of the pertinent info that all birders require, however it includes your Buntings, Longspurs, Juncos, Seed-eaters, Towhees and Grassquits.

But really impressed me the most about this guide were the color plates. The back section of the book is entirely set aside of some great artistic interpretations of these birds. And being a huge fan of the artists palate I was instantly drawn to this book. And after several months of procrastinating, it’s all mine.

So if you love those “Little Brown Birds” as much as I do, this might be the book for you.

An instant A+ review.

New/ Old Field Guide

My sister and husband returned from a trip out west a month ago and brought back with them a surprise for me. A few weeks passed before we could get together and the gift completely slipped my mind. So when she handed me the bag you wouldn’t have believed the look on my face when I opened it.

IMG_2996A 1946 1st. Edition Audubon Bird Guide/ Eastern Land Birds

It may not be in mint condition, however the plates are all there and after viewing all the pictures I thought I would share with my readers some of the best pictures in the field guide. Besides being beautiful plates, it’s the names of the birds and how they’ve changed over the decades.

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Breaking News

Here’s some exciting news from Macaulay Library at The Cornell Lab of Ornithology. They’ve just released the Cornell Guide to Bird Sounds: Master Set of North America, downloadable to your personal MP player.

With 4,938 individual tracks covering 735 species of North American birds this massive undertaking by Cornell will only set you back $49.99 and just 4.71 GB of free space on your MP player. And this includes pictures as well.

But don’t wait too long because the price will go up by $10.00 after the introductory time period. What a bargain! This is definitely going into my I-pod.

A New Guide

As the cold embrace of Winter lingers still throughout the Ohio valley, and our normal routine of birding is interrupted by weather events, we sometimes have to suck it up and just stay home. And what better time to brush up on some of our own personnel issues you might have at bird identification on some of those pesky birds. So the natural thing to do is reach into our own library and locate the volume  that will give us the info we so desperately seek.

Which brings me to the subject of field guides. Recently on Facebook, Uber-birder Jen Brumfield  from the Cleveland area posted a picture of a new field guide with the yet to be announced release date. And if you couldn’t tell by now the picture above is said field guide. The “Peterson Reference Guide To Seawatching” just might be your next purchase, especially for those who live near or close to any of the Great Lakes or the Atlantic coast. For myself this will be a must have since I’m not very good with properly identifying seabirds in flight.

So I started to dig around to find out as much as I could about this book, and believe you me there isn’t a whole lot of information available. I did check with Amazon.com to see if they had anything related to this book, and they did. If you click on the blue highlighted text it will take you to the book listing at Amazon. So according to them the book will sell for $23.10 and the release date won’t be till September 17th of this year.

So save those pennies.