Monday, June 24, 2013

Review: The Warbler Guide

The Warbler Guide is a stupendous new book by Tom Stephenson and Scott Whittle, published by Princeton University Press. Each of the 56 species accounts contain at least a dozen photographs, emphasizing various plumage variations—in all, over 1000 stunning color photos grace the book. One of the unique features of this book is that many of these photos are taken from below, which is how you really see warblers in the field. Each account also contains photos showing distinctive features and comparison species. Range maps accompany each account.

The long introduction discusses what to look for when seeing a warbler. This section includes warbler photos showing field marks and suites of spring and fall warblers, all on the same pages (from the side, at a 45 degree angle, from below, as well as close-ups of warbler heads). The authors also launch into a long discussion of sonograms that illustrate warbler songs in each species account.

The book ends with a spreadsheet comparing warbler behavior and habitat (both also covered in the species accounts) and a short quiz emphasizing warbler identification. Also presented are a short series of birds likely to be confused with warblers (although I can’t imagine an Eastern Towhee could be confused with a warbler). Finally, a few photos of warbler hybrids are included. The book is sparsely referenced, but does include a few resources, in print, in audio and digital format, and on the Internet.

This relatively inexpensive book will aid birders of all abilities in identifying the warblers of America. The list price is $29.95. Prepublication orders (before the first week in July) from Amazon are $19.36!

Update: see my review of the audio files Cornell Ornithology lab has just published to accompany The Warbler Guide.

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