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Birding is Hard

I started birding in 1972, and took to it like an ibis takes to drainage ditches. I pretty quickly learned all of the birds that could be reasonably expected in the city parks of Chicago, where I grew up. By 1975, I was a fully fledged, vagrant-hunting birder. By the time I was 13 years [read more…]

Birds We Ought to Know Better

A review by Keith Betton

The Helm Guide to Bird Identification: Comparing Confusion Species, by Keith Vinicombe, Alan Harris, and Laurel Tucker

A & C Black, 2014

396 pages, $42.95—softcover

ABA Sales–Buteo Books 14335

The internet tells us that the term “game-changer” was not used outside of sports until 1993. But one of the best [read more…]

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 [read more…]

Not Your Grandparents’ Waterfowl

A review by Paul A. Johnsgard

Ducks, Geese and Swans of North America, Fourth Edition, by Guy Baldassarre

Johns Hopkins University Press, 2014

1,027 pages in two volumes, $69.95—hardcover

ABA Sales / Buteo Books 14400

In 1942, the American Wildlife Institute published The Ducks, Geese and Swans of North America, a modest-sized book of 474 [read more…]

2014 AOU Check-list Supplement is Out!

Every summer, birders anxiously await publication of the “Check-list Supplement” by the American Ornithologists’ Union’s North American Classification Committee (NACC). The Supplement details revisions to its Check-list (e.g., lumps, splits, new species, new classifications, etc.). Below is a brief rundown of those changes. (You can see the Supplement here.) Be sure to check out the [read more…]

Understanding Rarity

A review by Graham Etherington

Rare Birds of North America, by Steve N.G. Howell, Ian Lewington, and Will Russell

Princeton University Press, 2014

428 pages, $35.00—hardcover

ABA Sales / Buteo Books 14102

Rare birds: everybody loves ’em. Whether it’s the wonder that you feel on seeing a bird that’s managed to survive a cross-ocean [read more…]

The New Sibley

A review by Jen Brumfield

The Sibley Guide to Birds of North America, Second Edition, by David Allen Sibley

Knopf, 2014

599 pages, $39.95—softcover

ABA Sales / Buteo Books SIBL2

I have 1,500 words to review the new, second edition of The Sibley Guide to Birds.

1,500 words. I’ve already used 20.

I don’t have [read more…]

The Allure of the Sea, From Shore

A review by Amar Ayyash

Peterson Reference Guide to Seawatching: Eastern Waterbirds in Flight, by Ken Behrens and Cameron Cox

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013

xi + 602 pages, $35—hardcover

ABA Sales / Buteo Books 13931

Perhaps the most challenging form of birding, the identification of birds in flight from a distance is a [read more…]

Juncos and Science

A review by Rick Wright

Ordinary Extraordinary Junco, by Jonathan Atwell, Steve Burns, and Ellen Ketterson

Junco Project, 2013

$5.00–DVD, 1:30

Available for purchase or free download

Look outside.

It is winter as I write, and over much of the ABA Area—and well south into Middle America, too—there’s a good chance that your eye [read more…]

Pterodroma Petrels

A review by Tom Johnson

Multimedia Identification Guide to North Atlantic Seabirds: Pterodroma Petrels, by Bob Flood and Ashley Fisher

Scilly Pelagics, 2013

316 pages and two DVDs, $69.95—hardcover

ABA Sales / Buteo Books 14180

Few birds are as amazingly tough, enigmatic, beautiful, athletic, and rare as the gadfly petrels. The Multimedia Identification Guide to [read more…]