Sunday, August 12, 2007

Bird Identification Book

I love books, I love going to the book store. Regardless of what kind of book I might be looking to buy, I am always drawn like a moth to a bright light to the section of the book store that has nature books. I quite often end up buying a book from that section even though I probably don't really need it.

One such book I bought this summer is titled "Birds of the Great Plains". Authors are Bob Jennings, Ted T. Cable, and Roger Burrows, and it is published by Lone Pine. Now it would have been easy to convince myself not to buy yet another bird id book, as I have a bunch of them. But I liked the format of this book.

The book covers the states of Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, South and North Dakota, Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota, part of Montana, Wyoming Colorado, New Mexico and Texas.

At the beginning of the book is a reference guide. There is a thumbnail picture of each bird. I think this would make id'ing a new bird easier. There is also a section on the top birding sites in the Great Plains.

Each bird gets an entire page. The book is illustrated. The top of the each page gives details about the bird. When the botanical name has special significance, it is explained. The descriptions have all sorts of neat little factoids. There are also identifying marks, size, normal habitat, nesting habits, how and on what the bird feeds, it's call, and last but not least similar species.

The cover is of heavy enough paper to be sturdy, as are the pages. At the same time, the book is flexible enough to flip through easily. The opposite is one of my complaints about the smaller Sibley book.

No book is perfect, and there are a couple of things I don't like. The size. The book is 8.5 by 5.5 inches. Not a good size for sticking in a pocket. The second one is probably a bit picky, and seems somewhat common to id books. Similar birds are not on opposing pages. For example I always have trouble with Franklin's and Bonaparte's Gulls. I would have really liked them positioned so that I didn't have to flip back and forth. As I say, a bit picky.

Friday I took a photo of this Turkey Vulture.

larger image

Among other things this book says about Turkey Vultures:

The Turkey Vulture's red, featherless head may appear grotesque, but this adaptation allows it to remain relatively clean while feeding on messy carcasses.

Neat little factoid, no?

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