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Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Review; The Stokes Field Guide to the Birds of North America "level of detail matches or exceeds the best illustrated guides"

Black-tailed Gull, from The Stokes Field Guide to the Birds of North America. "The thoroughness of the gull account is a major advantage over other photographic guides" says the new review.

Got another nice review, this one from A DC Birding Blog...
"This new guide includes 854 bird species from across the continental United States and Canada. The birds include recent splits and other taxonomic changes. For example, Winter Wren and Pacific Wren are treated as separate species, andOreothlypis warblers are split from the Vermivora genus...This makes it the most up-to-date field guide currently available...

Photographs depict each bird species in various plumages and postures, including some flight photos. The number of photos varies a great deal from species to species. A few only have one, like the Plain Chachalaca; others have two or three, like many of the pelagic birds; still others have multiple photos; the Red-tailed Hawk has 23 photos spread over four pages. Gulls are shown in the summer and winter forms of each year of their development cycle, whether that is 2 years, 3 years, or 4 years. In fact, the thoroughness of the gull accounts is a major advantage over other photographic guides, which often only show the first year and adult forms. I am not sure of the median number of images per species, but the important point is that the guide includes enough photos to illustrate any significant plumage that a birder is likely to encounter...

Species pages provide accompanying text on par with the photographic thoroughness. Each photo is labelled with the plumage type (e.g., "Adult winter") and a code for the location and month when the photo was taken (e.g., "OH/08" for August in Ohio). Notes discuss key identification points, as well as habitat and voice. One helpful feature is that the species accounts also list subspecies and describe how to distinguish them. In some cases, the photos are also labelled with the subspecies or plumage morph, though listed subspecies are not always illustrated. All but the rarest species have a range map, set on the same page as their species accounts. ABA codes are given for each species to show its relative rarity or abundance.

The new
Stokes Field Guide to Birds of North America provides a compelling alternative to other field guides currently available. Its level of detail matches or exceeds the best illustrated guides and improves substantially on other photographic guides. Since I first got the guide, I have turned to it regularly to help with tricky identifications. Sometimes it is useful to see some photographs of a bird in real field conditions in addition to an idealized version. In that respect the new Stokes guide would complement an illustrated guide quite well, in addition to being a strong field guide in its own right. I think that birders will be happy to own this detailed and beautifully illustrated guide.
For full review go here.

1 comment:

Jeff said...

I've got the book this replaces and love it. I've already put this one on my Christmas list. Can't wait to get it.