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New guides to warblers, waterbirds, birds of the British Isles, and rare birds

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Tails and undertail coverts of eastern and western warblers (and a handful of non-warblers), as presented in The Warbler Guide by Tom Stephenson and Scott Whittle (Princeton University Press, 2013).
Tails and undertail coverts of eastern and western warblers (and a handful of non-warblers), as presented in The Warbler Guide by Tom Stephenson and Scott Whittle (Princeton University Press, 2013).

Watch birds long enough, and two things are certain to happen:

One, you’ll accumulate a lot of field guides. Two, opportunity or dumb luck will place you in front of a bird that, despite all your books, you still won’t be able to identify. It may be a jaeger far off Whitefish Point, a Tree Pipit in Britain, a Red-footed Falcon on Martha’s Vineyard, or a Sungrebe at Bosque del Apache.

Or it might be a waterthrush (Louisiana or Northern?) or a confusing fall warbler. (Bay-breasted or Blackpoll?) If so, Tom Stephenson and Scott Whittle’s widely praised Warbler Guide is sure to help. (See the cover below.) More like a heavily illustrated dictionary than a field guide, it devotes all of its 560 pages to the warblers of the United States and Canada, a group that may get as few as 32 in your favorite all-in-one guide.

BW1213_Cover_171x223Publishers and authors:

If you’ve brought out a book that we should consider reviewing, send it here:

BirdWatching Magazine
Madavor Media, LLC.
25 Braintree Hill Office Park, Suite 404
Braintree, MA 02184
[email protected]

The authors lay out the essentials in the opening pages — what to notice on warblers, how to age and sex warblers, how to listen to songs, and how to make sense of sonograms. Then they allot each bird six busy pages, four for photos and two for sonograms. Gifted artist Catherine Hamilton (@birdspot on Twitter) provided the drawings. The only way future warblers will stump you is if you don’t read the book.

1213Book-Seawatching-171x245Three additional titles are sure to help with other puzzling birds, including that jaeger.


Determined to share the techniques that veteran seawatchers use, and to inspire more birders to start watching waterbirds, authors Ken Behrens and Cameron Cox have filled the latest Peterson guide with photos and descriptions of 112 species that make long-distance migrations, including Pomarine, Parasitic, and Long-tailed Jaegers, and they tell the best times to visit Whitefish Point and 46 other established watch points along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, the St. Lawrence Waterway, the Great Lakes, and the Ohio, Niagara, and other rivers.

A book on this topic was long overdue. We published an excerpt in our October 2013 issue. Read Behrens and Cox’s explanation of why seawatches matter.

Richard Crossley, creator of the revolutionary photo-montage reference guide, turned his camera toward the British Isles for his latest work (cover below). He and nature writer Dominic Couzens, author of Top 100 Birding Sites of the World, Atlas of Rare Birds, and other well-known books, describe not only Tree Pipit but 302 other species that occur regularly in Great Britain and Ireland (including Meadow, Olive-backed, Red-throated, Richard’s, Rock, Tawny, and Water Pipits). See sample pages showing Blackbird, Blue Tit, and other common garden birds.

1213Book-RareBirdsOfNA-171x241And Steve N. G. Howell and Will Russell fill a gaping hole in the birding library with Rare Birds of North America, the first comprehensive illustrated guide to vagrant birds in the United States and Canada. Intertwining occurrence patterns and identification criteria, they provide a much-needed overview of where and why pelagic species and species from the New World tropics and Old World occur — 262 species in all, including both Red-footed Falcon and Sungrebe — and how to identify them. Oxfordshire artist Ian Lewington, illustrator of A Field Guide to the Rare Birds of Britain and Europe and other books, was responsible for the illustrations, contributing 275 beautiful plates.


Look for roundups of notable new books about birds in every June and every December issue of BirdWatching magazine. A version of this article appeared in our December 2013 issue.

1213Book-Crossley_UK-171x226New field guides

The Crossley ID Guide: Britain and Ireland
AUTHORS: Richard Crossley, Dominic Couzens
PUBLISHER: Princeton University Press, 2013
304 pages, $27.95, £16.95, paper
Find the Crossley ID Guide on Facebook.

Peterson Reference Guide to Seawatching: Eastern Waterbirds in Flight
AUTHORS: Ken Behrens, Cameron Cox
PUBLISHER: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013
624 pages, $35 cloth
Find Seawatching on Facebook.

1213Book-WarblerGuide-171x237Rare Birds of North America
AUTHORS: Steve N. G. Howell, Will Russell, Ian Lewington, illustrations
PUBLISHER: Princeton University Press, 2013
448 pages, $35 cloth


The Warbler Guide
AUTHORS: Tom Stephenson, Scott Whittle, Catherine Hamilton, drawings
PUBLISHER: Princeton University Press, 2013
560 pages, $29.95 paper, $16.17 ebook
The Warbler Guide website.
Find the Warbler Guide on Facebook.

Updated on Nov. 6, 2013, to show Madavor Media’s new mailing address.




Originally Published