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Friday, October 31, 2014

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Stokes Book Signing Sat. Nov. 1st, 11:00 am Toadstool Bookshop, Peterborough, NH

There will be a talk and book signing for our new, The Stokes Essential Pocket Guide to the Birds of North America this Sat. Nov. 1st, 11:00 at the Toadstool Bookshop in Peterborough, NH.

There will also be a raffle at the book signing of a FREE 8x42 Binocular to anyone who buys the Stokes new book at the book signing! 

Note, if you cannot attend the talk and book signing you can still enter the raffle if you buy The Stokes Essential Pocket Guide to the Birds of North America at the Toadstool any time this week and fill out a raffle ticket and place it in the raffle jar on the counter at the Toadstool Bookstore, Peterborough, NH.

Hope to see you there!
Lillian and Don Stokes

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Northern Harriers Are Migrating Now, Be On the Lookout!

Northern Harrier, photographed from our deck, here in NH

Just had a Northern Harrier fly over our fields here in NH, plus a Sharp-shinned Hawk, despite the rain. Hawk migration is still going on. Broad-winged Hawks have mainly cleared out of New England, but Sharp-shinned, Cooper's and Red-tailed Hawks as well as American Kestrels, Merlins, and more are still coming. Harriers course low over fields, looking for rodents, so they stop by our property, which has large fields, viewable from our deck. Northern Harriers breed across the upper two-thirds of North America and winter across approximately the southern two-thirds.
Have a great weekend and see some birds!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Yellow-rumped Warblers Are On The Move!

This is a Yellow-rumped Warbler in winter plumage with the tell-tale yellow rump. They're migrating  now so watch for them in your garden. Get to know this bird since it is one of the most common fall migrating warblers. Photo is from our new The Stokes Essential Pocket Guide to Birds of North America, which was just published!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Migration Watch: Palm Warblers Are Migrating Now!

"Yellow" subspecies of Palm Warbler photographed in NH in fall

"Western" subspecies of Palm Warbler photographed in winter on Sanibel Island, on the west coast of southern FL

Palm Warblers, are now migrating and we are seeing them here in NH. These late migrating, beautiful warblers have yellow breasts and deep yellow undertail coverts. They constantly wag their tail up and down, a nice giveaway to their identification. These bright "yellow" Palms are the eastern subspecies of Palm Warbler (Dendroica palmarum hypochrysea) and breed from central Quebec east. They winter along the Gulf Coast, from LA to northern FL.

The "western" subspecies of Palm Warbler (Dendroica palmarum palmarum) breeds from Ontatio west, across to parts of the Yukon and ne. British Columbia and winters in the Southeast, down through south FL. Some may also winter on the West Coast. This subspecies has very little yellow on the breast but still has the bright yellow undertail coverts. There is a breeding zone south of James Bay where they intergrade. So this gives you some idea of why Palm Warblers may look different, depending on which area of the country you are in.

We enjoy watching the Palm Warblers on our property forage near the ground in the goldenrods along our "warbler edge", the edge of our field that faces south, and is the place where we see the most warblers in spring and fall migration.

For more on the subspecies of Palm Warbler as well as how to identify fall warbers, see our The Stokes Field Guide to the Birds of North America, the best-selling photographic field guide available.

Also check out our new pocket-sized bird guide, The Stokes Essential Pocket Guide to the Birds of North America, just published Buy It Here.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

How to ID Sparrows at Your Bird Feeders, Sparrows are Migrating Now!

White-throated Sparrows, Zonotrichia albicollis, come in two morphs. One morph has brown head stripes, as here;

the other morph has black-and-white head stripes, as here. There is much individual variation. They all have white throats and are very common at many feeders in winter.

White-crowned Sparrows, Zonotrichia leucophrys, in their first winter have rufous brown head stripes

and no white throat. We just saw one of these in our NH yard.

The dramatic adult White-crowned Sparrow has beautiful black head stripes and a white central crown stripe.

Sparrows are migrating big time. White-throated Sparrows are coming to bird feeders across much of the country now. Somewhat less common here in New England, White-crowned Sparrows are also migrating and coming to feeders. Both these species winter across much of the country and you may have them at your bird feeders all winter. We recently had first-winter White-crowned Sparrows at our feeder amongst the many, many White-throated Sparrows.

These sparrows love to feed on the ground on millet or seed mixes containing millet. We make a special sparrow feeder by building a big brush pile and sprinkling the seed in front and under the pile. It's a sparrow magnet and provides perching spots and cover from predators. The big bonus for us is that we get to see lots of fall sparrows.

If you live in the far western part of the country, you will get lovely Golden-crowned Sparrows visiting your bird feeders. They have a golden forecrown, surrounded on the front and sides by black or brown.

All these sparrow species are in the genus Zonotrichia. We discussed the characteristics of the sparrows in the Melospiza genus as stated in our The Stokes Field Guide to the Birds of North America, the most complete photographic guide available. In our guide, p. 656, we discuss the Zonotrichia genus and say these are "large deep-bellied, broad-necked sparrows with a fairly small conical bill, rounded crown, and fairly long, slightly notched tail." In addition to White-throated, Golden, and White-crowned Sparrows, the Zonotrichia genus includes Harris's Sparrows.

Tip: Look at these sparrows through your binoculars at your bird feeder and learn the characteristics of the shape of each genus. You will get better at ID-ing them and it will set you up to learn the sparrows in other genera.

Sparrow ID, Melospiza Sparrows

Lincoln's Sparrow, Melospiza lincolnii. Saw one in our  yard.

Song Sparrow, Melospiza melody. Lots are at our bird feeders and bird bath now.

Swamp Sparrow, Melospiza georgiana. Hang out in swampy areas not usually at feeders.

Swamp Sparrow, Melospiza georgiana

Sparrow ID can be challenging, to say the least. We often see Swamp Sparrows, hanging out appropriately, in swampy areas at the edge of the water. Birds are often habitat dependent and thus the Swamp Sparrow's name.

This is a subtly beautiful sparrow with a strongly marked face, russet wash along flanks, and reddish-brown on crown, wings and tail.

Swamp Sparrows are in the genus Melospiza, along with Song and Lincoln's Sparrows. In our The Stokes Field Guide to Birds of North America, in addition to thorough individual species accounts with multiple photos per species, we have colored boxes where we give helpful Identification Tips and an overview of many of the bird families. Look for these in our field guide.

For Sparrows, in the  Stokes guide p. 656, we say,

"Sparrows are small birds with short conical bills and varied-length tails. They are birds of primarily grasslands, fields, and open edges, where they feed mostly on seeds and some insects. Most are brownish with streaked backs, and they can look quite similar. Fortunately, there are several large genera that have subtle but distinctive shapes. Becoming familiar with these shapes can help you place an individual sparrow into one of these groups, or genera; then you can look for plumage clues to complete your identification.

Species ID: There are 12 genera of sparrows in North America. Only 5 have 3 or more species, and these are the ones that are most useful to know to use in this generic approach.

* Melospiza: Medium-sized to large sparrows with rather average proportions: they are slightly deep-bellied and have a medium-sized bill, rounded crown, and fairly long rounded tail. These sparrows are easily seen in brushy areas and marshes; when flushed or curious they tend to fly up to higher perches for long periods and give short alarm calls. Some (Song Sparrow) come regularly to bird feeders. Includes Song, Lincoln's, and Swamp.

Chipping Sparrow, Spizella  passerina, adult summer. Chipping Sparrows come to feeders.

In winter Chipping Sparrows change and look like this. Chipping Sparrows are in the Spizella genus.

* Spizella: Small to medium-sized sparrows with high rounded crown, short conical bill and fairly long notched tails. These are fairly conspicuous sparrows that often feed in flocks on the ground. When disturbed they tend to fly up to higher vegetation and look around. They include Chipping, American Tree, Clay-colored, Brewer's, Field, and Black-chinned Sparrows.

In addition to the above, look for this different sparrow at your feeders,
Fox Sparrow, Passerella iliaca. These are large beautiful sparrows that can be seen in fall and winter at feeders.

Our big book, The Stokes Field Guide to The Birds Of North America is now available for your convenience in two regional guides that are lighter and more portable. The New Stokes Field Guide to Birds: Eastern and Western Regions recently came out and can be bought at and your local bookseller. Get them for they contain multiple photos of each species of sparrow and will help you with identifying and enjoying your sparrows more.
Our newest guide is The Stokes Essential Pocket Guide to the Birds of North America, contains over 580 stunning photos, covers 250 species, and can fit in your pocket!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Stokes Essential Pocket Guide to the Birds of North America is Just Published!!

Yeah!!! Our new book, The Stokes Essential Pocket Guide to the Birds of North America is published today!! Get it from your favorite bookseller or buy online click here!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Belted Kingfisher Countdown Photo!

Here's a Belted Kingfisher, another of my favorite photos,  from our new bird guide which gets published in 2 days. On Tues. Oct. 14th our  brand new The Stokes Essential Pocket Guide to the Birds of North America will be published. Most photos are by me. All the text and essentially all the photos are new!
Lillian Stokes

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Only 3 more days until Stokes Essential Pocket Guide to Birds is out! The countdown photo today is.....


Here's another of my favorite photos from our new The Stokes Essential Pocket Guide to the Birds of North America which is coming out Oct. 14th! You can PRE-ORDER IT HERE.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Favorite Countdown Photos from the new Stokes Essential Pocket Guide to Birds, Coming Oct. 14th.

Our new book, The Stokes Essential Field Guide to the Birds of North America is coming in 4 days, on Oct. 14th!! Here in one of my any favorite countdown photos, of an American Oystercatcher, from the guide. Each day until it comes out I will put one of my favorite photos from the book on this blog.

Guess what? You can PRE-ORDER Now!

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Countdown to Publication of Stokes Essential Pocket Guide to Birds, Oct. 14th!

Coming Oct. 14th! 

Did you know most of the photos were taken by me, Lillian! Can't wait until you see them.

Counting down the minutes until the publication of our new The Stokes Essential Pocket Guide to the Birds of North America! Available Oct. 14th!

Thursday, October 02, 2014

New! The Stokes Essential Pocket Guide to the Birds of North America, Coming Oct. 14th!

A must-have! The Stokes Essential Pocket Guide to the Birds of North America, from Don and Lillian Stokes. 


Every birder will want this beautiful, easy, fun, pocket-sized guide to the most essential birds of North America. Covers 250 species and contains more than 580 stunning, large, color photographs, most by Lillian Stokes. Packed with information, this guide provides what one needs to know to identify and enjoy America’s birds in the backyard and beyond. 


- Large, stunning, main photo area covers over half the page and adjunct photos give relevant additional information

- Key identification clues to all important plumages for each species, including male, female and non-breeding plumage where relevant

- Descriptions of key behavior capturing the essential character of the bird

- Large up-to-date range maps, showing summer, winter, year-round and migratory ranges 

- Calls and songs 

- Habitat descriptions

- Foods and feeding habits

- Nesting behavior, including nest composition and location, number of eggs, length of incubation and nestling phases and number of broods

- Indication of which birds comes to bird feeders and bird houses 

- Quick alphabetical index and color tab index

- Learning page to correct names for parts of a bird

- And much more.

Also contains advice on how to identify birds, selecting bird feeders and ten ways you can help save the birds. Slip it in your pocket or put it on the kitchen table and start enjoying the birds. Will thrill birders and even turn non-birders into bird enthusiasts.

"With everything you need (and nothing you don't) to identify more than 250 species of North American birds, this book is a work of genius. Only the Stokes could have created a guide so slim, yet so clear, concise and welcoming. This is THE guide I'll be carrying into the field!"
--Sy Montgomery, author of BIRDOLOGY

Large, beautiful main photo engages reader, plus additional photos show plumage differences

Photos can show special clues

Additional photos may show bird in flight

In raptor section there are sometimes composite photos showing how that species would be frequently seen. 

Pre-order your copy now!