We review so many books and products relevant to birders and nature lovers that the only way to be sure you’ve seen them all is to check the most recent posts in our REVIEWS category. However, the summaries below are a rather comprehensive snapshot of our amassed opinions…
BIRDING RESOURCE BOOKS
The Shorebird Guide – “To say that The Shorebird Guide meets expectations would be an understatement. What I derived from this book was a sincere desire on the parts of the authors, expert field birders all, to administer so potent and thorough an education through this guide that each reader might, in time, equal their collective ability.”
Peterson Reference Guide to Gulls of the Americas – “All in all, this volume seems to have gotten everything right from the plentiful photos to the comprehensive accounts to the overall amiability and expertise of its authors.”
Pete Dunne’s Essential Field Guide Companion – “Dunne’s Field Guide Companion rounds out a bird’s biography by providing insight that goes much deeper than plumage and range. Armed with [a field guide and this book], a bird watcher’s life will suddenly become a lot less frustrating.”
How to Be a Better Birder by Derek Lovitch – “The one thought that kept running through my head as I read How to Be a Better Birder was that it really should have been named How to Be a Strategic Birder…I think there is something in this book that will help birders at every level.”
The Crossley ID Guide: Eastern Birds by Richard Crossley – “I like The Crossley ID Guide and I think it is absolutely awesome that someone has come up with a new way of presenting bird images in a guide format.”
Petrels, Albatrosses & Storm-Petrels of North America: A Photographic Guide by Steve Howell – “Should you buy this book? If your mouth waters at the idea of a pelagic, then yes, Petrel, Albatrosses & Storm-Petrels of North America is for you.”
Petrels, Albatrosses & Storm-Petrels of North America: A Photographic Guide by Steve Howell – “This is a great work and obviously a labour of love from an author who clearly understands and cares about his subject.”
FIELD GUIDES (NORTH AMERICA)
The Stokes Field Guide to the Birds of North America by Don and Lillian Stokes – “I highly recommend The Stokes Field Guide to the Birds of North America and think that it will be a nice inclusion to anyone’s library.”
Birds of North America: Photographic Guides by Sterry and Small – “I may not be ready to leave my favorite illustrated field guide behind next time I visit unfamiliar territory but I’ll be packing the relevant Photographic Guide along with it!”
The Sibley Guide to Birds by David Sibley – Simply the best resource to North American birds anywhere. This is the one book every American birder must have!
Hawks at a Distance by Jerry Liguiri – “All in all, this is an excellent, compact guide that nicely complements Hawks From Every Angle.”
Woodland Birds of North America by Scott Leslie – Not a field guide or a comprehensive guide to bird behavior, but does offer good pictures of a wide range of woodland birds.
National Geographic Backyard Guide to the Birds of North America – “The publicity materials for this book promise to ‘quench your curiosity about the feathered creatures in your midst’ but I am more optimistic – rather than quenching, I could see this book growing the curiosity about and awareness of birds, even in many people who might never call themselves birders at all.”
FIELD GUIDES (EUROPE/WEST PAL)
Collins Bird Guide (Britain and Europe) 1st Edition by Svensson et al – A great resource. One of the best field guides in the world for any region.
FIELD GUIDES (CENTRAL AMERICA/CARIBBEAN)
A Guide to the Birds of Mexico and Northern Central America by Howell and Webb – “Would I recommend this field guide? Absolutely”
A Field Guide to the Birds of Mexico and Adjacent Areas: Belize, Guatemala, and El Salvador, Third Edition – A wonderful resource for Neotropical species.
A Field Guide to the Birds of the West Indies – James Bond’s notable guide to Caribbean avifauna is remarkable for its history but somewhat outdated as a resource.
A Guide To The Birds of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands – Served us well in Puerto Rico.
The Birds of Mexico and Central America by Ber van Perlo – If you’re anywhere in Central America and have the foresight to carry this book you’ll be in excellent shape!
FIELD GUIDES (SOUTH AMERICA)
Wildlife Conservation Society Birds of Brazil – The Pantanal & Cerrado of Central Brazil – “This field guide is an achievement and I can’t wait to see the next four in the series.”
FIELD GUIDES (ASIA)
Birds of Borneo: Brunei, Sabah, Sarawak, and Kalimantan – by Susan Meyers. “…as a birder with a predilection for poring over field guides for lands near and far, I can attest that Birds of Borneo captivates the imagination.”
FIELD GUIDES (INVERTEBRATES)
Dragonflies and Damselflies of the East by Dennis Paulson – “This is an excellent landmark field guide that belongs in every naturalist’s collection.”
Spineless by Bronwen Scott – “A wonderful book for anyone with even the slightest curiosity about the lives of everyday organisms overlap with ours.”
National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Butterflies – Works like a charm, offering a simple, systematic path to butterfly identification.
Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America – This field guide might not be of much use to experienced insect watchers, but it’s perfect for beginners and casual nature lovers.
FIELD GUIDES (FLORA)
Sibley Guide to Trees – “Is ‘The Sibley Guide to Trees’ as awesome as ‘The Sibley Guide to Birds’? I’d have to say yes.”
Of Parrots and People by Mira Tweti – “I highly recommend this book to those who want to learn more about the horrible destruction humanity has wrought all in order to have pretty birds in cages.”
Winged Sentinels: Birds and Climate Change by Janice Wormworth and Cagan H. Sekercioglu – “While its focus is narrow in the sense that it is a book about birds, it is nevertheless wide-ranging in its consideration of the implications of changes to weather patterns, land use, and the phenology of the food webs birds depend upon.”
The Kirtland’s Warbler: The Story of a Bird’s Fight Against Extinction and the People Who Saved It by William Rapai – “And, this is a good book that I think 10,000 Birds readers will enjoy. It takes significant, potentially difficult material–ornithological and biological studies, the politics of conservation policy–and turns it into enjoyable reading. With its story-oriented style, this is excellent summer reading material.”
BIRDING NARRATIVE (NONFICTION)
The Bluebird Effect by Julie Zickefoose – “You feel like you are going along on a ride in Julie’s mind and by the time she has figured out where she stands on an issue you are likely to be there standing next to her.”
Flyaway: How a Wild Bird Rehabber Sought Adventure and Found Her Wings by Suzie Gilbert – “If her memoir does nothing more than raise the level of awareness of and appreciation for the struggles of wildlife rehabbers among the general public then this book is a success.”
How To Be A (Bad) Birdwatcher by Simon Barnes – “I can’t recommend this charming, witty encomium to avian observation enough.”
Corvus: A Life With Birds – Those who are as fascinated as Corey by the intelligence and dignity of corvids will find this book worth reading.
Pilgrim on the Great Bird Continent by Lynda Lynn Haupt – “Wonderfully written account of Charles Darwin’s transformation from callow scholar to assured, observant naturalist.”
Birding for Everyone: Encouraging People of Color to Become Birdwatchers by John C. Robinson – “I think he will be, as he undoubtedly has already been, one of the most influential agents of positive change in the future demographic distribution of American nature lovers.”
Flights Against the Sunset by Kenn Kaufman – This series of tales of Kaufman’s experiences while birding, some real, some make-believe, as told to his mother while she was hospitalized is touching and funny. It would make a perfect Mother’s Day gift.
The Verb ‘To Bird’ by Peter Cashwell – “Card-carrying members of the birding community and their allies will get a real kick out of it.”
All Things Reconsidered by Roger Tory Peterson – “All Things Reconsidered offers something for everyone, particularly birders who would like to understand their craft in its historical context.”
Birding Babylon by Jonathan Trouern-Trend – “The volume is small and elegant, adorned with delightful woodcut illustrations of Iraqi species.”
Letters From Eden by Julie Zickefoose – A wonderful collection of artwork and essays from a gifted individual who connects with nature with every one of her senses.
Seeking the Sacred Raven: Politics and Extinction on a Hawaiian Island by Mark Jerome Walters – The tragic tale of how one species’ ignorance leads to another’s potential demise.
Club George: Diary of a Central Park Bird-watcher by Bob Levy – Earnest, engaging, and maybe a bit overlong, this is a sweet snapshot of NYC human-avian interaction.
The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill by Mark Bittner – This fresh autobiographical study in amateur ornithology may be one of the first birding romance novels.
The Grail Bird by Tim Gallagher – The definitive narrative of one of the most exciting and controversial ornithological discoveries in recent U.S. history.
The Life of the Skies by Jonathan Rosen – Asks a fair share of thought-provoking questions but follows up time and time again with fresh insights and answers.
NONFICTION (SCIENCE AND PHILOSOPHY)
Birds and Bibles in History by Tian Hattingh – “In short, what we have here is a minor, eccentric, but unique work.”
On the Nature of Animals by Aelion – “It is a fun book, of the type that rewards opening at random and reading in bits and pieces, because bits and pieces are what it is made of”
Feathers by Thor Hansen – “Whatever your interest in birds is or isn’t Feathers is a book well worth reading for both the better understanding of the natural world you will have once you finish it and for the interesting minutiae that Hansen sprinkles throughout the book.”
Why Don’t Woodpeckers Get Headaches? by Mike O’Connor – Though backyard birders will certainly find the most value in the insights dispensed in this witty book, anyone with even a passing interest in birds will get a laugh out of it.
The Birding Life – “Ladies and gentlemen, we are witnessing the birth of Birder Chic.”
Barn Owl by David Chandler – “Chandler comes very near his goal of creating ‘a book for anyone in Europe or North America who wants to know more about the Barn Owl.'”
The Moral Lives of Animals by Dale Peterson – “For those who enjoy a casual mental wrestling match with their reading material, it is an opportunity to think through some important issues. It cannot, however, be seen as the last word on this fascinating subject.”
The Jewel Hunter by Chris Gooddie – “Overall, I think 10,000 Birds readers would reading enjoy The Jewel Hunter. There is a surprising amount of suspense incorporated in the tale, reaching its apex when Gooddie flies to Sabah, East Malaysia with three old friends to find the “mythical” Giant Pitta. His humor is wicked funny, especially when pointed at birding itself.”
To See Every Bird on Earth by Dan Koeppel – A fantastic memoir that explores the dark side of Big Listing.
BIRDING BOOKS FOR THE YOUNGER BIRDER
B is for Bufflehead by Steve Huchcraft – “If you’re looking for a bird book appropriate for young readers, B is for Bufflehead is the one.”
The Young Birder’s Guide to Birds of Eastern North America by Bill Thomson III – Has the wholly laudable aim of getting the young generation outside looking at birds, and if it were up to me every school in eastern North America would have this in their library.
Baby Bird Books, Little Bird Books (Several Books are Reviewed) – “I hope this celebration of Baby Bird Books and Little Bird Books has brought back good memories of books you’ve read, as a child or to children, and that it will spark future read-aloud sessions with the child of your choice.”
PHOTOS & ART
Life Along The Delaware Bay by Lawrence Niles, Joanna Burger, and Amanda Dey – “So yes, seriously consider purchasing this book if you are a shorebird fan. And, if you appreciate excellent nature photography. Also, if you regularly bird Cape May and the larger Delaware Bay area. And, if you want to see a good example of how to convincingly present a case for conservation.”
Sibley’s Backyard Birds poster by David Sibley – “How anyone could resist this poster, which shows likely backyard birds that occur from the foothills of the Rocky Mountains to the East Coast, is beyond me. I highly recommend picking one up, whether for yourself or as a gift. It is beautiful and useful, a combination that is as rare as it is worthwhile.”
Sibley’s Raptors of North America poster by David Sibley – “Beautifully illustrated and well executed, Sibley’s Raptors of North America is a perfect decoration for nature centers, birders’ homes, and any other place where people are interested in identifying the hawks, falcons, eagles, and vultures that they are likely to see anywhere in the United States and Canada.”
All the World’s Birds by George le Clerc, Comte de Buffon – Huge, heavy, and very expensive, but also fascinating and beautiful: recommended to anyone with an interest in the history of ornithology.
Birds: The Art of Ornithology by Jonathan Elphick – Even the smaller edition is jam-packed with information about the history of ornithological art from medieval woodcuts to nearly the present day.
Secret Lives of Common Birds by Marie Read – Captures the magic of the mundane, rendering run-of-the-mill birds in vivacious color and thrilling action.
Galapagos: Islands born of Fire by Tui De Roy – “this book…is the next best thing to being on the islands born of fire. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested at all in the natural world.”
Egg & Nest by Rosamond Purcell, Linnea S. Hall, and René Corado – “Beautifully designed, intelligently presented work. Reverent of life yet unsentimental, there may not be a live bird in the book but I believe that birders and basically anyone else interested in the eternal mysteries of existence will find it fascinating.
The Conference of the Birds by Peter Sis – “Birds and freedom go hand-in-hand and the combination of the two makes for a powerful and beautiful book. Go get The Conference of the Birds and enjoy it as much as I do.”
NOVELS, NOVELLAS, AND SHORT STORIES
Quick Fall of Light by Sherrida Woodley – “This is a book that people come to for the plot and the science. I can’t really fault the former, although the dual-threaded narrative sucked out a lot of potential tension and my inability to buy the characters made it hard to care when they were in peril. The latter… I wanted so badly to like it, but the survival scenario for the Passenger Pigeons is implausible on its face.”
The Plume Hunter by Renée Thompson – “All in all, I liked Thompson’s book, and am delighted to recommend it to birders and non-birders, alike.”
A Spicing of Birds: Poems of Emily Dickinson edited by Jo Miles Schuman and Joanna Bailey Hodgman – “Great poems, wonderful subject matter, gorgeous art…something has to go wrong, right? Fortunately, no. The book is superb through and through and I highly recommend it.”
Bright Wings edited by Billy Collins – “Anyone out there who likes poems or birds should own this book, which will be published on 13 November. The holidays are coming and it would make a handsome gift for everyone from feeder-watchers to hard core birders and from dilettantes in the world of poetry to those who eagerly await the next issue of Poetry.”
WHERE TO WATCH/ATLASES
The Second Atlas of Breeding Birds in New York State – This book should be purchased by anyone with any interest at all in birding New York State.
The Birds of New Jersey: Status and Distribution – “Leafing through The Birds of New Jersey: Status and Distribution is like hanging out with a group of long-time Jersey birders and listening to stories of past rarities, notable birding irruptions, changes, trends.”
The Atlas of Birds: Diversity, Behavior, and Conservation – “The Atlas of Birds may succeed where other, more serious books fail at communicating the call for citizen action because it incorporates the message within this lively graphic format.”
Crossbill Guide to Extramadura by Dirk Hilbers – “Wholeness, interconnectedness, wonder, beauty. Dirk, you have done a great job of transporting your passion for this land.”
The Songs of Wild Birds by Lang Elliott – An engaging book/CD package presented by one of the best in the birdsong business.
Birdwatcher: The Life of Roger Tory Peterson by Elizabeth J. Rosenthal – The Great Man has a great biography in Birdwatcher.
Audubon: Early Drawings by Scott V. Edwards and Richard Rhodes – Any Audubon aficionado or birding completist would proud to have this truly beautiful book in his collection.
MOVIES AND VIDEOS
Gulf Crossing – “I recommend it for anyone interested in learning more about the marvels of migration or anyone who just likes to see good video of birds.”
Madagascar: The Last Inheritor of Gondwana – “Madagascar: The Last Inheritor of Gondwana tries to walk the “all of the above” line, which is sometimes satisfying, sometimes disconcerting, and sometimes outright frustrating.”
The Big Year – “I would give it a solid “B-” as a birder whether I was grading on a curve or not. If you are a birder you should, of course, see the movie.”
Your Backyard – “I honestly can’t see a reason to buy this video unless you think that using a video to teach your children about exceedingly common backyard birds is a better way to teach them then, you know, actually going out in your backyard. Also, unless you are trying to move your child in an anti-science direction there is no reason that if you are going to use a video that you would use one with an expressly creationist perspective.”
Ghost Bird – “I would highly recommend making the trek to the Anthology Film Archives and checking out Ghost Bird. It is an attractive film, well-shot with hand-held cameras and a crew of only two.”
The Life of Birds – Sir David Attenborough delivers the greatest global overview of avian life and behavior you’re likely to ever see.
Opposable Chums: Guts and Glory at the World Series of Birding (Jason Kessler) – This documentary about the 2002 WSOB is entertaining, informative, and, who knows, if you show it to a non-birding friend they might be convinced to give birding a chance!
Video Guide of the Birds of Venezuela (Ferraro Nature Films) – A must for anybody planning a bird watching trip to Venezuela.
The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill (Pelican Media) – This highly acclaimed documentary presents the complicated man behind the wild parrots.
Watching Warblers (Blue Earth Films) – All 39 species of wood-warblers that nest in Eastern North America are captured as bold as life, in vivid color and full-throated song. This is as close as you can get to a personal introduction to each exquisite warbler.
Watching Sparrows (Blue Earth Films) – “If you are a North American birder or a birder who plans to visit North America for birding this film will prove to be an invaluable resource, serving as a video and audio field guide to the sparrows you will encounter.”
Watching Waders (Blue Earth Films) – “The excellent footage will make you yearn for some time in the marshes and give a more intimate view of the lives of our big wading birds.”
Swarovski ATX and STX Spotting Scopes – “The Swarovski ATX and STX modular spotting scopes are, to put it as simply as possible, awesome.”
Swarovski 10X42 EL Swarovision Binoculars – “The limited lifetime warranty that comes with the binoculars really does make them an investment and I am sure that if you purchase these binoculars you will be very, very, very, happy with how things look through them.”
Binocular Harness – “I must say I have been amazed! The harness is easy to use once one is used to it and actually keeps my binoculars more handy than before.”
Cotton Carriew Two Camera Holster – “This setup leaves my hands free and distributes the weight of my equipment. Also I have found this setup very useful when I carry a scope in addition to my camera and binoculars; in this situation my equipment is safely attached to me, and not dangling, while I work with the scope.”
S4Gear Lockdown Optics Deployment System – “I felt very comfortable with my optics firmly in place. Ultimately, the system works just as I had hoped it would.”
Meopta Meopix iScoping Adapter – “Using the MeoPix is easy, intuitive, and fun. That I can get decent images and videos of birds through my iPhone means that I will be able to share shots from the field immediately, assuming that the iPhone has a signal.”
Meopta MeoPix iScoping Adapter – “If you are a birder and you regularly carry your iPhone in the field you should own one of these adapters. Period.”
Teleconverters for 7D and 5D MIII – “I am now a proud owner of the the new 5D Mark III and it too works with the 300 mm f/4 + 2X Kenko. It focuses perfectly well even at reasonably low light conditions at f/8!”
Canon EF 300 f/4 L IS Macro – “My conclusion is that the performance of the Canon EF 300mm f/4 L IS is significantly improved using the Kenko 2X for macro shots when the light conditions are adequate.”
birdJam – A very cool identification and instructional tool for any birder attempting to expand his or her repertoire of North American bird calls.
Winged Explorer – “If you have a Windows Mobile device or iPhone, you’re going to want to pick up one of these applications soon, especially since the prices just went way down.”
Squirrel Buster Plus – “Squirrels immediately came to investigate. After several days of jostling and jumping, then wrestling and rummaging, the squirrels largely gave up. They stopped assaulting it.”