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Field Guides

Feathers. Beaks. Spindly little feet on mostly brown bodies. To the untrained eye, birds resemble each other greatly. Field guides help us analyze our quarries. The best field guides are those that te...

Feathers. Beaks. Spindly little feet on mostly brown bodies. To the untrained eye, birds resemble each other greatly. Field guides help us analyze our quarries. The best field guides are those that teach birders to look for differences first. They should be organized for quick, accurate identifications, and be easy to read, no matter what the conditions. Guides need not include extraneous detail—in fact, too much information can hamper an identification. Instead, they should call your attention to a bird's unique features. Real birders subject field guides to harsh treatment, so hardcover books are preferable.

How to Choose a Field Guide
  • Select a complete field guide, not a beginner, even for children. The beginning guides may not have the species that interest you.

  • Choose a guide that matches your area of interest. For example, if you are most interested in birds, select a guide to birds. Or, if you are more interested in entire ecosystems, select a regional guide that covers habitats’ flora and fauna.

  • Picture guides are the easiest to use because they let you identify what you have just seen by matching it with a picture. Key guides, in contrast, are more difficult. The school users in observation through a series of questions and illustrations.

  • Buy a light, compact volume.

  • Look for field guides with range maps or descriptions of where species occur.

To augment basic identifying information, collect other books. Gleaning additional insight about a species’ habits, family life, and migrations is one of a birder's greatest pleasures. Keep a library of more comprehensive volumes at home or in your car.

  • The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Birds (Eastern Region), by John Bull and John Farrand, Jr. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1977.

  • The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Birds (Western Region), by Miklos D. F. Volvardy. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1977.

  • The Audubon Society Field Guide to the Bald Eagle, by David G. Gordon. Seattle, Wash.: Sasquatch Books, 1991.

  • The Audubon Society Pocket Guide to Birds of Prey, by Richard Walton. Westminster, Md.: Random House, 1994.

  • The Audubon Society Pocket Guide to Familiar Birds (Eastern). Westminster, Md.: Random House, 1987.

  • The Audubon Society Pocket Guide to Familiar Birds of Lakes and Rivers, by Richard Walton. Westminster, Md.: Random House, 1994.

  • The Audubon Society Pocket Guide to Familiar Birds of Sea and Shore, by Simon Perkins. Westminster, Md.: Random House, 1994.

  • The Audubon Society Pocket Guide to Familiar Birds (Western). Westminster, Md.: Random House, 1987.

  • The Audubon Society Pocket Guide to Songbirds and Familiar Backyard Birds (Eastern), by Wayne Petersen. Westminster, Md.: Random House, 1994.

  • The Audubon Society Pocket Guide to Songbirds and Familiar Backyard Birds (Western), by Richard Walton. Westminster, Md.: Random House, 1994.

  • The Audubon Society Pocket Guide to Waterfowl, by Richard Walton. Westminster, Md.: Random House, 1994.

  • The Birder's Handbook, by Paul R. Ehrlich, David S. Dobkin, and Darryl Wheye. New York: Fireside Books, 1988.

  • Birds Do It, Too: The Amazing Sex Life of Birds, by Kit and George Harrison. Minocqua, Wisc.: Willow Creek Press, 1997.

  • Birds of North America, by Chandler S. Robbins, Bertel Bruun, and H. S. Zim, with illustrations by Arthur Singer. New York: Golden Press, 1966.

  • Birds over America, by Roger Tory Peterson. New York: Dodd, Mead & Co., 1948.

  • The Bird Watchers America, by Olin Sewall Pettingill, Jr. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1965.

  • A Field Guide to the Birds of North America. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society, 1987.

  • Handbook of Waterfowl Identification, by Frank S. Todd. Vista, Calif.: Ibis Publishing, 1997.

  • National Audubon Society Book of Wild Birds, edited by Les Line and Franklin Russell. Westminster, Md.: Random House Value Publishing, 1997.

  • Peterson's Field Guide to Advanced Birding, by Kenn Kaufman. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1979.

  • Peterson's Field Guide to Eastern Birds, 4th ed., by Roger Tory Peterson. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1980.

  • Peterson's Field Guide to Eastern Birds’ Nests, by George Harrison. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1988.

  • Peterson's Field Guide to the Birds of Texas, by Roger Tory Peterson. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1979.

  • Peterson's Field Guide to Western Birds, 3rd ed., by Roger Tory Peterson. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1990.

  • Peterson's Field Guide to Western Birds Nests, by George Harrison. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1988.

  • Planting Noah's Garden, by Sara Stein. San Diego, Calif.: Harcourt Brace, 1997.

  • Seabirds of the World, by Peter Harrison. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1996.

  • Stokes Field Guide to Birds, Eastern Region, by Donald and Lillian Stokes. New York: Little, Brown, 1996.

  • Stokes Field Guide to Birds, Western Region, by Donald and Lillian Stokes. New York: Little, Brown, 1996.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR


John D Lee is a life-long animal lover, find him at https://www.86pets.net/. It's the pet world!



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