New guides and other books on birds and our planet

Peterson Reference Guide to Sparrows of North America
Peterson Reference Guide to Sparrows of North America

Peterson Reference Guide to Sparrows of North America, by Rick Wright, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, hardcover, 2019, 448 pages.

This book, from tour leader, author, and scholar Rick Wright, is a thorough resource for the identification of 76 kinds of sparrows, juncos, towhees, and brush finches that breed in “zoogeographic North America, or the Nearctic region” — Canada and the United States south into Mexico where a volcanic belt crosses from Jalisco to Veracruz. Wright covers not only field-ID tips for each bird, but he also summarizes how ranges have expanded or contracted over time. And he goes further, telling the fascinating history of human interactions with sparrows. We learn, for example, about Audubon’s incorrect assumptions about the Rufous-collared Sparrow, a bird of Latin America. The great painter received a specimen of the sparrow in 1839 that he assumed had been collected in “Upper California” by John K. Townsend and dubbed the bird Morton’s Finch. The error wasn’t discovered until 20 years later. 

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