Saturday, April 19, 2008

Beginner birding

I'm pretty certain that any posting that follows my squirrel experience will be a letdown, no matter how hard I try, so just consider this a segue to something better down the road.

Occasionally, I receive copies of new publications to review. With a few exceptions, they are reference guides of various subject focus and scope. Unfortunately, I don't always have the time to give them the detailed write-up on this blog that they desire. I'm a little burned out after an early morning birding tour at the Ridgewood Reservoir, but feel compelled to mention one new book that will become available at month's end. It's part of the "Peterson Field Guides" series and is entitled "The Young Birder's Guide to Birds of Eastern North America", by Bill Thompson III.

This is a great beginner field guide. In my opinion, it's not just for kids. Adults who are interested in birds and birdwatching can also benefit from the book's straightforward, simple style.

The book is easy to carry into the field as the author has taken the species that are found in more typical field guides and distilled them down to 200 of the most common species. Each bird's plate has tips to help remember that bird, as well as, a balloon with an interesting note about that species. The introductory chapters contain a description of basic gear, identification tips, honing ones skills, "manners" and species habitat preferences. There is even a small checkbox and space at the bottom of each plate for noting your first sighting of that species. Four important pages that precede the plates, and is frequently overlooked in some guides, is entitled "Be Green: Ten Things You Can Do For Birds."

When I was a child, my parents gave me a series of guides by naturalist and author Herbert Zim. My collection of Golden Guide pocketbooks included "Bats of the World", "Dinosaurs", "Fishes", "Fossils", "Insects", "Planets", "Reptiles and Amphibians" and "Rocks and Minerals." Those compact, simple guides created a lasting impression and helped mold my appreciation of the natural world. Bill Thompson III, a long time writer for Birdwatcher's Digest, has created a guide that, like Zim's Golden Guides, has the potential to not only introduce a new generation of kids to the wonders of nature, but also some adults who have just begun to open their eyes to our avian friends. I'm still trying to decide which one of my many nieces and nephews gets my copy. I'll probably just have to buy a few more.

by Rob Jett for "The City Birder"

2 comments:

Jan said...

This sounds great. I hope they do one for the left coast, too.

Exis said...

I work in a book store and we just got this in a few days ago. I agree, a great guide for any age. Brightly colored, clear descriptions, and fun facts...I had to get one for myself!

Exploring urban nature, birds, birdwatching, birding, hummingbirds, butterflies, dragonflies, bees, hawks, raptors, wildflowers, trees, mushrooms, environment, binoculars, spotting scope