It really has been great to see such beautiful pictures of wood-warblers all week, especially when it has been so long since we saw any in the USA. It made us reach for our field guide for North America, but that really does not compare to the real thing. I had spent several holidays with my family in the USA in the 1980’s and then worked in Maine during the summer of 1985-beware the poison ivy and the snapping turtles! I then had a year in Florida – beware the alligators and hurricanes! I did not get to appreciate all that America had to offer for the birder until I returned with my husband, Grant, in 1989. Our first shopping trip when we arrived in Florida was to buy a field guide and that afternoon we thought we had a soft drink can sitting on a fence-you know the brand-no, it’s not that…it’s a cardinal! We spent almost 4 months crossing the USA and had an amazing time, although it was not the right time of year for Wood-Warblers. We did however see a Yellow-rumped Warbler at Elephant Butte Lake, New Mexico on 16th November 1989 and a Townsend’s Warbler at Big Sur, California on 3rd December 1989. Now you may well be wondering which field guide was around in 1989 and a few of you will no doubt cringe when you see this, but here goes…
For those of you not familiar with a field guide from years gone by here are some examples of where they were at with wood-warblers in the 1980’s.
Of course all field guides have changed tremendously over the years and some were really NOT pocket guides! We have a selection of books that we have found over the years in bookshops and one of our favourites was published in 1949 and is The Birds of South Africa by Dr Austin Roberts. We have never been to South Africa, but it is a lovely book to look at and dream! It has the common names of the birds in English, Afrikaans and Eastern Bantu and Native languages!
South African Warblers
One lovely surprise when we purchased this book was a breakfast menu that was in it from 9th March 1959 that is decorated with birds. It is from the Jan Smuts airport restaurant and offers (in two languages) chilled fruit juice, rolled oats, corn flakes, rice krispies, smoked cod, calfs liver, broiled bacon, eggs, corned beef, ham, polony, tea, toast, coffee, marmalade, jam and honey!
May you all see a lot more wood-warblers in the weeks to come and we will have to get back to America to see some more….oh, and update the field guide!!
This week, 8 May – 14 May 2011, is Wood-Warbler Week on 10,000 Birds! Though wood-warblers, the mostly brightly colored birds of the family Parulidae, are only found in the New World we felt that birders the world over would be pleased to see a plethora of posts about these striking and sought after species. We are devoting a whole week to wood-warblers but are only just barely scratching the surface of possible topics involving this amazing family of birds.
Right now great flocks of wood-warblers are making their way north from the southern United States, Mexico, the Caribbean, Central and South America to breed across the United States and Canada. Many other non-migratory wood-warbler species are living their lives across the neotropics, doing their best to survive and pass on their genes. Wood-Warbler Week is a celebration of all wood-warblers and we hope you join us in celebrating these absolutely wonderful birds. Read about them here but also get out and experience them. You won’t regret it!
I’ll tell you, Clare, I like the head studies in that Golden Guide… they really highlight some of the structural differences of these birds. But I still wouldn’t give up the newer guides. Thanks for sharing these blasts from field guides past!
that menu is great, Mike. and the first edition Roberts’ field guide brings back wonderful memories (not that I remember when it came out). Jan Smuts airport was renamed Johannesburg International Airport at some stage. And then renamed to OR Tambo International.
@ Mike-there’s also a double page of Fall Warblers-olive or yellow immatures without wing bars and with wing bars and tail spots! Have head studies become a thing of the past in your field guides in the USA?
@ Dale-thought it may interest you that we have a rather nice book and menu on our bookshelf on the other side of the world!
The Golden Field Guide was my favourite field guide in 1987/88 when I spent one year in Canada on a school exchange. I still have it and actually still like it. The fact that the new guides are better does not mean that this book has gotten worse over the years, just comparatively worse. 😉
And Robert’s – yeah, that is a very fine book indeed, although it seems more like a book on the life histories than about the identification of southern African birds.
@ Jochen-yippee you are also the proud owner of The Golden Field Guide! I wonder how many more there are out there!?
Maybe we should found the group “Friends of the Golden Field Guide to Birds Anonymous”?
If we raise money from big sponsors to have a paid-for meeting in Oz once a year, I am game.
@ Jochen-great plan!