Sunday, December 14, 2014

Best Bird Books of 2014


The following are my picks for the best bird books of 2014:




1) del Hoyo, Josep and Nigel J. Collar. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Volume 1: Non-passerines. 2014. Lynx Edicions. Hardbound: 904 pages. Price: $245.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: The first ever Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World is really two works in one. It is a complete checklist whose taxonomy incorporates the most up-to-date information and an exhaustive methodology (Tobias et al. 2010 [in the Ibis]) in an entirely systematic and consistent way. At the same time, it contains illustrations and distribution maps for every bird species in the world. This includes the original artwork from the HBW series, as well as hundreds of new illustrations, all in two compact volumes.
     This book features:
357 color plates.
     8,290 bird illustrations (including 242 new and 783 improved).
     4,428 distribution maps.
     34 full-page reference maps.
     2,126 bibliographical references.

RECOMMENDATION: A MUST have for anyone with a serious interest in birds! You can order the book from Lynx here:




1) Howell, Steve N.G., Ian Lewington and Will Russell. Rare Birds of North America. 2014. Princeton University Press. Hardbound: 428 pages. Price: $35.00 U.S. 

PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Rare Birds of North America is the first comprehensive illustrated guide to the vagrant birds that occur throughout the United States and Canada. Featuring 275 stunning color plates, this book covers 262 species originating from three very different regions--the Old World, the New World tropics, and the world's oceans. It explains the causes of avian vagrancy and breaks down patterns of occurrence by region and season, enabling readers to see where, when, and why each species occurs in North America. Detailed species accounts describe key identification features, taxonomy, age, sex, distribution, and status. Rare Birds of North America provides unparalleled insights into vagrancy and avian migration, and will enrich the birding experience of anyone interested in finding and observing rare birds. This book features:

  • Covers 262 species of vagrant birds found in the United States and Canada
  • Features 275 stunning color plates that depict every species
  • Explains patterns of occurrence by region and season
  • Provides an invaluable overview of vagrancy patterns and migration
  • Includes detailed species accounts and cutting-edge identification tips 
RECOMMENDATION: A MUST have for all serious birders in North America!

2) Pratt, Thane K. & Bruce M. Beehler. Birds of New Guinea: Second Edition. 2014. Princeton University Press. Paperback: 528 pages. Price: $49.50 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: This is the completely revised edition of the essential field guide to the birds of New Guinea. The world’s largest tropical island, New Guinea boasts a spectacular avifauna characterized by cassowaries, megapodes, pigeons, parrots, cuckoos, kingfishers, and owlet-nightjars, as well as an exceptionally diverse assemblage of songbirds such as the iconic birds of paradise and bowerbirds. Birds of New Guinea is the only guide to cover all 780 bird species reported in the area, including 366 endemics. Expanding its coverage with 111 vibrant color plates—twice as many as the first edition—and the addition of 635 range maps, the book also contains updated species accounts with new information about identification, voice, habits, and range. A must-have for everyone from ecotourists to field researchers, Birds of New Guinea remains an indispensable guide to the diverse birds of this remarkable region. 
RECOMMENDATION: A MUST have for birders with an interest in the region!

3) Baldassarre, Guy. Ducks, Geese, and Swans of North America: revised and updated. 2014. Johns Hopkins University Press. Hardbound: 1027 pages (in 2 volumes). Price: $69.95 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Ducks, Geese, and Swans of North America has been hailed as a classic since the first edition was published in 1942. A must-have for professional biologists, birders, waterfowl hunters, decoy collectors, and wildlife managers, this fully revised and updated [fourth] edition provides definitive information on the continent’s forty-six species. Maps of both winter and breeding ranges are presented with stunning images by top waterfowl photographers and the acclaimed original artwork of Robert W. (Bob) Hines.
     Originally authored by F. H. Kortright and later revised by Frank Bellrose, this latest edition, which has been meticulously updated by renowned waterfowl biologist Guy Baldassarre, continues the legacy of esteemed authors. Each species account contains in-depth sections on: • identification• distribution• migration behavior• habitat• population status• breeding biology• rearing of young• recruitment and survival• food habits and feeding ecology • molts and plumages• conservation and management
     To facilitate identification, the species accounts also include detailed illustrations of wings. An appendix contains comparative illustrations of ducklings, goslings, and cygnets.
     This edition of Ducks, Geese, and Swans consists of two volumes, printed in full color, and packaged in a slipcase, along with a CD containing references and additional maps. 
RECOMMENDATION: A MUST have for anyone with an interest in the waterfowl of North America.

4) Sibley, David Allen. The Sibley Guide to Birds: Second Edition. 2014. Knopf. Flexibound: 598 pages. Price: $40.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: The publication of The Sibley Guide to Birds in 2000 quickly established David Allen Sibley as the author and illustrator of the nation’s supreme and most comprehensive guide to birds. Used by millions of birders from novices to the most expert, The Sibley Guide became the standard by which natural history guides are measured. The highly anticipated second edition builds on this foundation of excellence, offering massively expanded and updated information, new paintings, new and rare species, and a new, elegant design.
      The second edition offers a wealth of improvements and updates:
• All illustrations reproduced 15 to 20 percent larger for better detail.
• Includes nearly 7,000 paintings digitally remastered from original art for enhanced print quality.
• Expanded text includes habitat information and voice description for every species and more tips on finding birds in the field.
• More than 600 new paintings, including illustrations of 115 rare species and additional paintings of common species and regional populations.
• More than 700 updated maps of ranges, showing winter, summer, year-round, migration, and rare ranges.
• 85 bird family pages now cross-referenced to species accounts.
• Revised taxonomic order and most current common names for every species.
      The Sibley Guide to Birds, second edition, brings the genius of David Allen Sibley to the world once again in a thoroughly updated and expanded volume that every birder must own. 
RECOMMENDATION: Now that the color and font problems from the first printing have been corrected in the second printing, I can now endorse this book!


  1. Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World is a celebration of bird biodiversity. There is nothing like it. I look forward to Volume II the passerines, but to me it can't possibly have the same appeal as volume one. Volume one will probably be the book of the decade.

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