New York City’s birds have inspired a shelf full of books through the years. Luminaries Frank Chapman, Ludlow Griscom, Allan Cruikshank, and John Bull authored early surveys of the area’s birdlife, while Robert S. Arbib Jr., Olin Sewall Pettingill Jr., and Sally Hoyt Spofford produced Enjoying Birds Around New York City, a classic, in 1966. More recently, journalist Marie Winn chronicled the travails of pioneering hawks and eccentric birdwatchers in Red-Tails in Love: A Wildlife Drama in Central Park (Pantheon, 1998), and Marcia T. Fowle and Paul Kerlinger compiled the comprehensive New York City Audubon Guide to Finding Birds in the Metropolitan Area (2001).
Naturalist Leslie Day is well qualified to add to this collection and bring it up to date. She taught environmental science and biology for more than 20 years, she has written two previous books about New York City — field guides to street trees and other flora and fauna — and she leads nature tours for the New-York Historical Society, the High Line, Fort Tryon Park Trust, Riverside Park Conservancy, and New York City Audubon. In her attractive new book, illustrated with surprising photos taken in the city by Beth Bergman, she describes the field marks, nests, eggs, and characteristic behaviors of 90 of the Big Apple’s most common birds and tells where in the five boroughs each can be found, and when.
“Take this guide wherever you go,” she implores readers in the introduction. And we hope many do, since it reveals a New York we long to see, the wild, beautiful city of birds known to Audubon, Chapman, and Griscom.
Field Guide to the Neighborhood Birds of New York City, by Leslie Day, Trudy Smoke (illustrator), and Beth Bergman (photographer), Johns Hopkins University Press, 384 pages, $24.95 paperback, $55 hardcover.
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