Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Guides to Buy

So, I'm going through a phase of wanting to buy new field guides. This has its pros and cons. Pros of course include learning, learning, and more learning. Cons involve the high cost of high prices. My VISA will no doubt help me forget about the money I'm spending, if only temporarily but I think it's important that I buy more guides now; not only because I believe I'll be traveling more in the near future but also because birding is an enormous part of my life and will no doubt be taking up more time in the near future (now that fall migration is well under way).

In terms of travel, there is one guide that I feel is necessary because it's a family of birds I know very little about and I have experience with only one species from the entire group: Trochilidae, the hummingbirds. Yes, Sibley's has great plates of the North American hummers but I want to purchase the Peterson's Guide to Hummingbirds of North America. This will have more in depth species accounts of the common birds as well as detailed descriptions of rarities, better range maps, and since the guide only covers one family, a far greater amount of detail in identification. I already own the Peterson's guides to Hawks and Warblers so the addition of the Hummingbird will become useful (especially when Marianne and I make it to Arizona).

In terms of increasing my knowledge of birds in my vicinity, I need a definitive Shorebird Guide. Right now, I go only by Sibley's, which is great but doesn't have the space to describe detailed identification tips on each species (and subspecies). I'm also hoping to find a guide that gets more into range, times of migration, etc. (Marianne, what guide do you own? I'm probably going to check out that one first).

Eventually, I also plan to buy the updated National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America. I used to own a howlingly outdated version that my brother "borrowed" a few years back and didn't return so I'm in need of another guide. I think it's important to have various guides from different organizations because each contains at least some important features that others do not. Although I really have no desire for the Kaufman guide because I prefer plates to photographs (my least favourite guide is the National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Birds because many photos are awkward, poorly lit, or only represent one individual bird rather than the average of all variation within that species).

I realize that my next trip to Chapters (or Pelee Wings Nature Shop since I'm going home next weekend) will put serious stress on my bank balance but that's O.K. When you have a passion, you have to spend a little more to support it. Swarovskis anyone?

1 comment:

6819 said...

When it comes to shorebird guides I can wholeheartedly recommend O'Brien's "The shorebird guide". I also have Dennis Paulson's "Shorebirds of North America", but I much prefer the former one.

Not that shorebird guides are all that useful in the Toronto area... I yet have to find a good spot for waders.