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Have you ever wondered what we’ve actually learned from all the decades of bird banding? Or how all the cool, new findings from satellite-tracked birds fit in? I certainly have, which is why I was excited to learn about The Migratory Connectivity Project. You can check out some initial work on the website, but there will also be a book – The Atlas of Migratory Connectivity for the Birds of North America – that will be published by Princeton University Press in 2016. The authors are currently looking for data. If you have anything that could be of use, they are collecting contributions through the end of 2014.

Guide to Troubled BirdsGuide to Troubled Birds
by The Mincing Mockingbird

From Blue Rider Press:

The Mincing Mockingbird Guide to Troubled Birds is an illustrated, pocket field guide that enables anyone to quickly identify psychotic, violent or mentally unstable bird species. Written in non-technical language for the layman, the guide describes where to find—or where to avoid—the most disturbed North American birds.

Throughout the book the reader will discover tales of murder, assault, mental breakdowns, obesity, drug abuse and infidelity among the birds. This guide is used and recommended by law enforcement agencies and ignored by leading ornithologists.


Obviously, this is a humor book. And a pretty funny one, too, if you’re a little on the demented side :)


Guide to Troubled Birds
by The Mincing Mockingbird
Hardcover; 64 pages
Blue Rider Press; June 12, 2014
ISBN: 978-0399170911

Sorry for the late post, hopefully I didn’t miss many reviews from last month.

A Sparrowhawk's Lament: How British Breeding Birds of Prey Are FaringA Sparrowhawk’s Lament: How British Breeding Birds of Prey Are Faring
by David Cobham

From Princeton University Press:

Britain is home to fifteen species of breeding birds of prey, from the hedgerow-hopping Sparrowhawk to the breathtaking White-tailed Eagle. In this handsomely illustrated book, acclaimed British filmmaker and naturalist David Cobham offers unique and deeply personal insights into Britain’s birds of prey and how they are faring today. He delves into the history of these marvelous birds and talks in depth with the scientists and conservationists who are striving to safeguard them. In doing so, he profiles the writers, poets, and filmmakers who have done so much to change the public’s perception of birds of prey. Thanks to popular television programs, the Victorian myth that any bird with a hooked beak is evil has been dispelled. However, although there are success stories–five birds of prey that were extinct have become reestablished with viable populations–persecution is still rife: so much so that one bird of prey, the Hen Harrier, became extinct in England as a breeding bird in 2013.

Featuring drawings by famed wildlife artist Bruce Pearson, this book reveals why we must cherish and celebrate our birds of prey, and why we neglect them at our peril. In A Sparrowhawk’s Lament, you will learn how the perfection of the double-barreled shotgun sounded a death knell for British birds of prey in the nineteenth century, how the conscription of gamekeepers during two world wars gave them a temporary reprieve, how their fortunes changed yet again with the introduction of agricultural pesticides in the 1950s, why birds of prey are vital to Britain’s ecosystems and cultural heritage – and much more.


This looks like a good complement to Conor Mark Jameson’s Looking for the Goshawk.


A Sparrowhawk’s Lament: How British Breeding Birds of Prey Are Faring
by David Cobham
Hardcover; 256 pages
Princeton University Press; July 6, 2014
ISBN: 978-0691157641

American Birding Association Field Guide to Birds of ColoradoAmerican Birding Association Field Guide to Birds of Colorado
by Ted Floyd (Author) and Brian E. Small (Photographer)

From Scott & Nix, Inc.:

From the tiny rufous hummingbird to the majestic bald eagle, Colorado is home to more than 496 types of birds, making it one of the finest birding destinations in the world. Preserved habitats created by local, state, and national authorities have helped foster and protect nesting sites for hundreds of species, 235 of which are featured in their natural habitats, from Great Plains to Rocky Mountains, in this ornithological guide. The birds are organized by type from waterfowl to finches and appear in beautiful color photographs accompanied by clear and concise introductions, identification tips, and habitat and birdsong descriptions. The book also includes a complete state bird checklist and a directory of birding destinations, making this field guide the perfect companion for anyone interested in learning more about the natural history of Colorado and the diversity of the state’s birds and where to see them.

  • 500 beautiful color photographs featuring over 250 bird species in natural habitats
  • Clear and concise introduction, identification, habitat, and birdsong text
  • Tips on when and where to see species
  • Organized by type of bird from waterfowl to finches
  • Complete state checklist, detailed state map, index, and quick index
  • Perfect portable book for beginning to intermediate birders


This, the second in the ABA state field guide series, is very similar to its predecessor, American Birding Association Field Guide to Birds of New Jersey, in that it has nice photographs and good, state-specific text. On average, the text accounts are shorter and photos smaller than in New Jersey, which is disappointing, but overall it is a good choice for beginning and intermediate birders.


American Birding Association Field Guide to Birds of Colorado
by Ted Floyd (Author) and Brian E. Small (Photographer)
Flexicover with jacket; 320 pages
Scott & Nix, Inc.; June 2, 2014
ISBN: 978-1935622437

by Quentin Phillipps and Karen Phillipps

Not just a good field guide, but a good READ as well.

Read the full review »

by Bill Thompson III

For new birders of all ages.

Read the full review »

A while back the American Birding Association announced that it would no longer be publishing book reviews in Birding, its flagship magazine, in favor of posting them on its new blog. I wasn’t too sure about that. These were consistently the best reviews around, written by very knowledgeable (dare I say “famous”) birders, and were the first thing I read in every issue of Birding. It was my goal to one day have a review published in this magazine. I was concerned that the quality of the reviews would decline after the change. After all, anyone can post reviews online (I should know). But I’m happy to say that my fear was unfounded. For proof, just read the three reviews on the ABA Blog linked below. Seriously, you should read them. But don’t stop there, the other reviews here are also worth reading. These are some of the best bird book reviews you’re going to find. Enjoy.

Wildlife of the CaribbeanWildlife of the Caribbean
by Herbert A. Raffaele and James W. Wiley

From Princeton University Press:

This is the first comprehensive illustrated guide to the natural world of the Caribbean islands. It contains 600 vivid color images featuring 451 species of plants, birds, mammals, fish, seashells, and much more. While the guide primarily looks at the most conspicuous and widespread species among the islands, it also includes rarely seen creatures–such as the Rhinoceros Iguana and Cuban Solenodon–giving readers a special sense of the region’s diverse wildlife.

Each species is represented by one or more color photos or illustrations; details regarding its identification, status, and distribution; and interesting aspects of its life history or relationship to humans. In addition, an introductory section focuses on the unique characteristics of the Caribbean’s fauna and flora, the threats faced by both, and some of the steps being taken to sustain the area’s extraordinary natural heritage.

Wildlife of the Caribbean is the essential field guide for learning about the living wonders in this area of the world.

  • The only guide of its kind for the Caribbean islands
  • 600 detailed color images feature 451 amazing species
  • Straightforward descriptions suitable for general audience
  • Compact size makes the guide easy to carry


Birders will still want a dedicated bird field guide, like Birds of the West Indies (from which the bird illustrations here are taken). But this makes a nice “sampler” guide to other wildlife like plants, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish, coral, and shells. I’ll definitely have it with me on my next trip to the Caribbean.


Wildlife of the Caribbean
by Herbert A. Raffaele and James W. Wiley
Paperback; 304 pages
Princeton University Press; May 25, 2014
ISBN: 978-0691153827

by Steve N. G. Howell, Ian Lewington, and Will Russell

A detailed (and attractive) guide to vagrant birds in North America.

Read the full review »