I hope that all of my readers have a safe, wonderful and joyous Christmas.
I will be spending the day quietly at home with immediate family, probably reading some books I received for my birthday recently and trying not to eat too much while still enjoying the occasion. The day here in South Australia promises to be quite pleasant – not too hot and not too cold. We are in the middle of summer, and we’ve already had many hot days.
Birds and hot days
Speaking of hot days – don’t forget to give the birds in your garden a treat for Christmas. Replenish the water in their bird baths and they will have a great day too. Seeing all the birds coming for a drink or a bathe is an added bonus if the bird bath is easily seen from the house.
Apologies to all of my regular readers. I haven’t posted much here recently and over the course of the year. I have had many challenges regarding my health but in cooperation with my doctor we are gradually getting on top of these issues. I am planning a great year of sharing my bird photos and my birding experiences in the New Year. I also have some exciting developments to share here on this site.
Happy Christmas – and Happy Birding.
National Geographic Complete Birds of North America, 2nd Edition: Now Covering More Than 1,000 Species With the Most-Detailed Information Found in a Single Volume,
Edited by Jonathan Alderfer, with Jon L. Dunn, maps by Paul Lehman
National Geographic Society, October 2014.
ISBN-10: 1426213735; ISBN-13: 9781426213731
744pages; 10.1 x 7.2 x 1.8 inches
This is a truly magnificent volume and one I am pleased to add to my library. Although I live in Australia and do most of my birding here I have been birding in a number of non-Australian countries. Sadly, I have yet to spend any time birding in the North American continent, a state I would like to correct sometime soon. This wonderful volume just adds a keen impetus to that desire.
I did not buy the first edition of this great work, so I cannot make comparisons. It has been “fully revised and updated” so I will have to take the editor’s word for that. There has been a significant increase in the number of species covered, now numbering over 1000. Edited by Jonathan Alderfer, this volume is a natural companion to the National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America.
Look at the numbers
This monumental work stacks up well as far as the numbers are concerned:
- a total of 744 pages
- Over 1000 species featured (compared with 962 in the 1st edition and 990 in the Field Guide)
- Over 800 distribution and migration maps
- 150 full colour photographs
- 9 photographers
- Over 4000 illustrations
- 21 artists
- 89 family groups included
- An interesting group of rarities discussed
- The text draws on the combined expertise of 25 birding authorities
- Two pages of references to Additional Reading
Format and layout
Each family of birds has a short introductory essay, followed by thorough coverage of each species in that family. Each species is then given a thorough coverage in the main body of the text, including:
- a general introductory paragraph
- Identification details (including male/female, juvenile and plumage variations)
- Geographic variation (where appropriate)
- Details of similar species
- Status and distribution
- Population notes, including changes in numbers
- Range maps
- A small, field guide type illustration
- A photograph (selected species)
The colour-coded range maps are very detailed and include:
- breeding range (salmon)
- year-round range (purple)
- winter range (blue)
- migration range spring and autumn (orange)
- migration range mainly in spring (green)
- migration range mainly in autumn (yellow)
- a range of other symbols (eg arrows showing direction of migration – see below)
Birds in flight
One of the useful details include the illustrations showing different aspects of a species in flight. This is particularly handy for those species birders see more often in flight rather than sitting or perching.
Overall, this is not only an impressive publication, it is immensely useful and helpful. It is by no means a thorough scientific handbook featuring and summarising all the current knowledge on each species; other handbooks do not far more effectively. (As an aside, it is nothing like our Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds (HANZAB) which is in 7 volumes, each of over 1000 pages of small print.) It doesn’t pretend to be an exhaustive authority on all things birds in North America. However, it succeeds admirably in being a single-volume reference to all the species of one continent, easy to read, easy to use and a delight to read – or just browse. It will delight all birders, from casual and inexperienced backyard birders through to field-hardened experts.
All I have to do now is:
- Find space on my bookshelf for this new volume
- Save up for a birding trip to North America.
Disclosure: I would like to thank National Geographic for kindly providing a review copy of this book.
- National Geographic Pocket Guide: Birds of North America
- National Geographic Complete Birds of North America 2nd edition: a book review
- Review: Brushed by feathers by Francis Wood
- Review: a Field Guide to the Birds of Colombia
- Review: A Field Guide to the Birds of Australia (8th edition, Simpson and Day)
- A guide to the birds of East Africa: a novel
Trevor’s Birding site has reached a significant milestone this morning:
Over the years the comments on this site have sometimes dribbled in, at other times they come in a flood. Some posts have received hundreds and comments, and others none at all. Some have been hilarious, many have been helpful – to me and my readers – and others very thoughtful. Fortunately, very few have been annoying and on only one occasion have I had to close comments on a post due to misguided people trying to post abusive or less than polite comments.
I have made good friends via this site and have even have had invites to other birders’ homes and one has even stayed in my home. Most birders are wonderful people, and sharing a love of birds gives one common grounds to explore our interests.
Writing about birds on this site has also led to some unexpected side benefits:
- I am in demand as a public speaker about birds.
- I have received quite a number of bird books from publishers wanting me to review their books.
- I have been interviewed twice by our local newspaper.
- My bird photos have appeared in books, magazines, periodicals, newspapers, on pamphlets, on tourist guides and even on the cover of a CD.
- This site is regularly listed as one of the top 100 birding sites worldwide. (At one point a few years ago it reached #26.)
Above all, I have been delighted with the development of a sense of community amongst my readers. They correspond with each other via the comments section, helping each other and giving advice to those with questions about birds, especially injured or orphaned birds.
But wait – there’s more:
I do not intend to rest on my laurels. I have plenty more photos to share, experiences to relate and stories to tell about birds. More posts are scheduled to appear in the coming days and weeks, and as I travel around I plan to take photos of birds wherever I go – then share them here. (Why not visit Trevor’s Travels, another of my sites where I share photos of my travels here in Australia and also in Thailand, Nepal, Ethiopia, Morocco and Spain. Don’t forget to leave comments!)
You could also investigate the archives section (link above) or investigate any of the categories (links on the side bar) and read older posts I have written. Nearly 1500 articles about birds and birding, here and overseas. And I’d love more and more comments too.
Why not leave a comment or two here today?
Review: Brushed by feathers: a year of birdwatching in the west by Frances Wood (2004, Fulcrum Publishing, Colorado).
What a delightful book. I was given a copy by someone (a friend of a friend) who attended one of my bird talks. I am normally reluctant to let people lend me books to read, no matter how interesting the subject matter because I have so many books and magazines of my own waiting for my attention. Still, out of politeness I accepted this title, and I’m so pleased that I did.
At first I only read a few pages in bed before turning off the light. As I moved further into the text I became hooked – no, spellbound. This is one special book, and all about birds I know nothing about. The author lives on Puget Sound in Washington State near the Pacific Ocean. It is a significant body of water for many water-bird species and the hinterland a passageway for many other migrating species.
The book is an account of a year, month by month, in the birding life of one small area: the author’s small acreage around her home – with occasional trips elsewhere or reminiscing accounts of earlier trips and experiences. From the Barn Swallows nesting under the eaves to various hummingbirds visiting her feeder through to rare encounters, the author takes the reader on a journey of wide-eyed, wondering and fascinated observations of the daily lives of her feathered friends.
Her descriptions of the house and garden, the local environment, weather and daily happenings take the reader into her confidence until we feel almost part of her family. Her lyrical style draws the reader on from bird to beautiful bird, each described with care – as if each was her personal favourite.
The author’s web page can be seen here.
Last night I was the guest speaker at the Lower Murray Bird Club here in Murray Bridge, South Australia. I had previously showed bird photos and spoke about Australian birds to this group about 3 years ago. Thinking that the membership is probably fairly static over a relatively short period of time, I made up a completely new talk with more recent photos to show. Just as well, because quite a few remembered my talk from back then.
I’m not into keeping birds in cages or aviaries, preferring to see my birds in the natural state. All the same, it was good to speak to a group of people who are all bird lovers, no matter where one sees them. Out of the many thousands of bird photos I could draw on for my talk, I tended to focus on those I had taken in walk-through aviaries, especially those at Adelaide Zoo.
I was made to feel most welcome and the audience was very attentive to what I had to say. I think they also enjoyed the photos I had chosen. I only wish I had a small portion of their bird knowledge, especially in the care of birds. I could be so much more helpful to my many readers if I had a broader knowledge in this field. I am trying; recently I’ve added a few more books to my growing library which will help.
People living in South Australia have many bird clubs that they could join. While many of them do not have their own websites, there is a combined site listing names, localities and contact details. The site is the United Bird Societies of South Australia (Click to access).