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YOUR TURN: What Makes a Good Field Guide?

That, or some variation thereof, is one of the questions I most often hear from beginning birdwatchers. This article in the December 2014 issue of Birder’s Guide to Gear attempts to answer that question by offering the advice of a diverse set of birders from various corners of Canada and the U.S. These are not only experienced birders, but more importantly, they are experienced in the art of mentoring beginners. I was interested to see how divergent their answers would be, so their responses were not shared with one another, and they were not guided toward a particular answer or set of advice. In the end, I think they nevertheless reached a pretty clear consensus. To read the article, just click here to access the e-magazine and flip to page 12. Don’t worry–it’s free!

What do you think makes a good field guide? Do you agree with the authors? It would be particularly interesting to hear from folks with experience mentoring beginners, but everyone’s voice is welcome. Please join in the conversation by offering your questions and opinions in the comment section below!

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Michael Retter
Michael L. P. Retter is the editor of the ABA's newest magazine, Birder's Guide, and the author of The ABA Field Guide to Birds of Illinois. When not at home gardening, Michael is often leading tours for BRANT Nature Tours in Middle America (Mexico through Panama). He currently lives with his husband, Matt, in Fort Worth, Texas. Michael also runs QBNA, the continent's informal club for LGBTQ+ birders. A former chair of the Indiana records committee, he is an eBird reviewer for Mexico, Illinois, and Indiana.
Michael Retter

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