Birder's Guide

DEC 2014

Birder's Guide is the American Birding Association's newest publication. Each issue focuses on a key subject, providing tips from experienced birders on a wide variety of topics like Travel, Listing & Taxonomy, Gear, and Conservation & Community.

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15 December 2014 | Birder's Guide to Gear the page is very important to me when identifying a bird. Putting a name to a color is often subjective, making the color accuracy of the printed image oh so important. I fnd it helpful for the images to be augmented with arrows or other mark - ings that point to feld marks on a bird, helping you to recognize which marks distinguish one species from another. In addition to images of the birds, concise text explaining a species' habitat, com- parisons between similar-looking birds, and color-keyed range maps all combine to help you identify birds accurately. My preferred guides are The Sibley Guide to Birds and Eastern Birds by Roger Tory Peterson. Oscar Johnson Villaseñor Baton Rouge, Louisiana With such a wide range of feld guides to choose from these days, and often with multiple guides for a single region, it can be diffcult to make an informed decision on which to purchase before embarking on a birding trip to some sively studying familiar species, I fnd feld guides which show multiple il- lustrations to be indispensable. They capture a more comprehensive range of postures and appearances that I expect to encounter in the feld. The best feld guides include an array of plumages of all age and sex classes, along with inter- mediate or transitional plumages. Behavioral information can be that clinching piece of evidence which helps confrm an ID. Field guides that include basic information on the general hab- its and habitat of a species are far more practical to me than books that ignore these critical elements of identifcation. The feld guides that always make it onto my short list for their stellar illus- trations and extreme portability are the western and eastern versions of The Sib- ley Guide to Birds. Though I keep a copy of "Big Sibley" in my car, when I'm bird- ing out of a suitcase I prefer the smaller volumes. These compact versions also offer tidbits of behavioral information that are absent from the original "Big Sibley". For even greater portability, I often scrap the paper book altogether and rely on my Sibley eGuide to the Birds of North America on my smartphone. With the exception of the sidebars, this app has all of the information housed in the original version of "Big Sibley", along with the behavioral information of both regional Sibley guides. Anita Guris Green Lane, Pennsylvania When looking for a feld guide to pur- chase, I check for three features: the accuracy of the images; assistive marks that point out key feld marks; and the simplicity of range maps, text, and com- parisons between similar birds. It is critical for the images to be accu- rate. They should have a clean, methodi - cal layout, with minimal distractions on the page. I'm very perceptive of color, so having the correct color printed on for both the eastern and western parts of the U.S. and Canada are available that are more easily carried in a pocket or bag. I strongly suggest having more than one feld guide. Comparing different il- lustrations can sometimes shed light on identifcation problems. The most important thing to remem- ber is to not limit your use of the guide to when you are in feld—if you even use it there at all. Keep it next to your bed. Take it on the commuter train. Put a copy in your desk at work for break or lunch time. Flip through it, even for a few minutes, whenever you can, and it will become a part of you. Don't just look at the birds that are in your area. Seeing the Crested Auklet in my very frst feld guide inspired me to dream of Alaska. Eventually that dream came true. Ashli Gorbet Albuquerque, New Mexico Field guides are as varied as birders themselves, and each book speaks to different birders in different ways. For learning new birds, as well as inten-

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