Friday, October 08, 2010

Two New Bird Books

This month Don & Lillian Stokes will release The Stokes Field Guide to the Birds of North America. With 3400 photographs covering 854 species, it will be one of the most comprehensive and informational field guides available to birders. In fact, it's the first North American guide to cover all subspecies. Thumbing through an advance copy, my first impression was made positive by the guide's stunning photography. I wasn't at all surprised to see names like Brian Small, Robert Royse, and Jim Zipp among the list of 168 photo contributors. An accomplished bird photographer herself, over 500 of Lillian's bird images are in the guide, too! As you might have surmised by the copious number of photographs and species accounts, the new Stokes guide is almost 800 pages and weighs close to 3 pounds (just slightly heavier than the big Sibley guide). In comparison, field guides that break eastern and western into two separate volumes are generally around a third of the weight. However, if you desire the most recent identification tips, updated range maps, key behavioral information and clues, detailed descriptions of songs, plus some of the best bird photography out there, then this is the field guide to get. Included with the guide is a bonus CD containing vocal displays for 150 common birds. Besides, can one really own too many field guides? I think not!

Here's the definitive guide on bird conservation from one of the best bird advocacy organizations on the planet. The American Bird Conservancy's new book: The American Bird Conservancy Guide to Bird Conservation (Lebbin, Parr, & Fenwick) offers the most comprehensive guide on bird conservation I've ever come across. This beautifully illustrated guide will be an invaluable resource on the present state of birds, which, unfortunately, isn't so great. Watchlist species (212 of them) are presented with range maps, habitat type and habitat condition, threats and threat level, and conservation efforts. Following the watchlist is an exhaustive listing of Important Bird Areas that are given equal attention regarding threats, conservation, and priorities for maintaining healthy bird populations and habitat. The guide also contains a thorough analysis of human causes of bird mortality and their impacts as well as strategies and actions for the future. If you're the type of birder who want to know which species are declining and why, and what needs to be done to reverse these sad trends, I wholeheartedly recommend adding this important book to your library.

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