Friday, January 6, 2012

Bird Field Guides

If you have never looked for books about bird watching, you will probably be surprised at the number available online and in book stores. There are several good field guides to choose from and every bird watcher has his or her favorite.

The field guides I am writing about are for North America however, there are guides for almost every continent. The Peterson Field Guide Series has an excellent guide for Europe available in several languages.

Some guides use photographs for identifying birds and others use colored drawings. I have used both kinds and each have something to recommend them.

I prefer field guides with drawings or paintings. The artist can illustrate markings, colors, and, patterns that can easily be used for identification. The drawings stress what you need to look for.

Guides that rely on photographs are at the mercy of transitory lighting conditions and random positions of the birds.

The field guides that I have used for years are the Peterson Field Guides to Birds. Both written and illustrated by Roger Tory Peterson often called, " The father of bird watching." They are the, A Field Guide to the Birds of Eastern and Central North America which covers an area roughly from the 100th meridian ( A line running through western Kansas, Nebraska, and the Dakotas ) to the Atlantic states and the, Peterson Field Guide to Birds of Western North America that includes birds west of the 100th meridian.

The advantages to these guides are:

     Wonderful paintings by Roger Tory Peterson that emphasize field marks to look for. Uncrowded pages usually only showing four or five species on a page. -Bird Descriptions on pages directly across from the illustrations. No more thumbing to the
    Back of the book looking for notes about the birds. -Maps showing the ranges of each
    Bird species.
Another very popular guide is the Golden Field Guide, Birds of North America. This book also has excellent painted illustrations.

Some other field guides I recommend are the National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America, Sixth Edition, National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Birds-both eastern and western editions, and the National Wildlife Federation Field Guide to Birds of North America.

  • Choosing a field guide is a personal decision. Take your time and find the one that works for you.

1 comment:

  1. This is a another great post..I have quite a collection now and I have added insects, butterflies, dragonflies and damsels, spider and other guides...I had to get a new bookshelf for