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Henry King
Henry King

Birds Of North America: A Guide To Field Identification (Golden Field Guide F St. Martin's Press) Do

I mainly use a couple of field guides: The Audubon Society Field Guide To North American Birds: Eastern Region It has photographs of the birds, usually male and female and is small enough to carry around in your pack. The second book is the Birds of North America: A Guide To Field Identification (Golden Field Guide f/St. Martin's Press)It has drawings of the birds. At first I though the drawings would not be as useful but in fact it is sometimes easier to use this guide. This is because they can present an idealized view of the birds showing all the characteristics that might not be seen in a photograph.

Birds of North America: A Guide To Field Identification (Golden Field Guide f St. Martin's Press) do

When Roger Tory Peterson tried to sell a book that enabled naturalists to identify birds in the field, most publishers thought no one would be interested. Until that point, identifying birds meant shooting them, and then determining their identification with bulky, scientific guides.

Field guides remain popular among naturalists. There are now field guides for seemingly everything. My bookshelves buckle with them. I not only enjoy using them on outings, I also just like to pick them up and learn about interesting critters.

Here are ten new and classic field guides and reference books for you to enjoy. These represent my interests, but please feel free to list your own favorite field guides and wildlife references in the comments section. And check out my previous list of favorite field guides for more ideas.

As a kid, Golden Guides were my first field guides and also fueled my love of natural history. This one was my favorite. I loved exploring ponds, creeks and puddles, and this one helped me uncover the mysteries lurking there.

Seriously, this field guide shows just how specialized and encompassing field guides have become. It features all 116 species of tiger beetles found in the United States and Canada. It contains everything you could possibly want to know about tiger beetles.

Beyond the larger species like elk and mountain goats, smaller mammals are some of the cutest wildlife to look for in Spearfish. This field guide will help you distinguish weasels from minks and marmots from martens.

This is the introductory field guide series that has, for over half a century, inspired millions of individuals to go out and explore nature. Continuously revised and updated, the reasonably priced Golden Guides are a perfect place for all outdoor explorations to begin.

Jonathan Evans, Environmental Health Legal Director, Senior AttorneyJonathan (he/him) works to protect imperiled wildlife from the threats of environmental contamination and reduce the toxic threats of pesticides, heavy metals and chemical pollution in our environment. Jonathan received his law degree from the University of Oregon School of Law and a bachelor's degree in conservation and resource studies from the University of California at Berkeley. Prior to joining the Center, Jonathan worked at the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation managing ecosystem restoration grants. He also brings to the Center a background in the field of outdoor education as a naturalist and guide throughout California.

Noah Greenwald, Endangered Species Director Noah (he/him) directs the Center's efforts to protect new species under the Endangered Species Act, to ensure that imperiled species receive effective protections and that we have the strongest Endangered Species Act possible. He also works to educate the public about the importance of protecting biodiversity and about the multitude of threats to the survival of North American wildlife. He holds a bachelor of science in ecology from the Evergreen State College and a master's in forest ecology and conservation from the University of Washington. Before he joined the Center in 1997, Noah worked as a field biologist, surveying northern spotted owls and marbled murrelets and banding Hawaiian songbirds.

By Stephen J. Daviessdavies@cgl.ucsf.eduIntroductionKatherine Feldman and I spent a week birding Northern Chiapas during early May 2002. The aim of the trip was to travel independently to the rainforest fragments of Northern Chiapas, where some species representative of the Central American avifauna can be found. We combined the rainforest with a loop back through the North-Central highlands of Chiapas, in the hope of encountering some of the endemic species of that area. This made for an enjoyable if hectic trip, producing 295 species of birds. We had an opportunity to take in some of the sights of this beautiful region of Mexico, but were also provided with an educational and sobering glimpse at some of the problems facing this impoverished area. While birding in Chiapas was not always easy, we would encourage birders to visit this biologically rich and fascinating area to promote awareness and conservation of the natural resources that remain there.ResourcesAs on previous trips to Mexico, we used Steve Howell's excellent book 'A Bird-Finding Guide to Mexico' (Howell 1999) to plan our trip and all locations mentioned here are covered in detail in chapters 12 and 13 of this bird-finding guide. Note that while this book is still immensely useful, Chiapas appears to be a region that is changing rapidly and in contrast to previous Mexican trips, we found the information provided by Howell was frequently no longer accurate. Some of the more important discrepancies we encountered are highlighted in the itinerary section below. We used the indispensable 'A Guide to the Birds of Mexico and Northern Central America' by Howell and Webb (Howell and Webb 1995) as our identification reference. Owing to the timing of our visit, we encountered many Nearctic migrants en route to breeding grounds further north (see below for details), so birders unfamiliar with these species may wish to pack a reference to the birds of North America. Throughout this report, avian taxonomy follows that of Clements (Clements 2000). The few differences between this taxonomy and that used by Howell and Webb are noted in parentheses in the text below, but not in the accompanying trip list. 'The Lonely Planet: Mexico' guide (Noble et al. 2000) also proved useful on many occasions. See bibliography below for full details.TravelTraveling from San Francisco, California, our trip began and ended in Villahermosa, in the Mexican state of Tabasco, which we reached via connecting flights through Mexico City. All flights were with Mexicana Airlines. At Villahermosa we rented a car with Budget Car Rental. We requested the bottom-of-the-line economy model, which from previous experience in Mexico has usually turned out to be a Chevrolet "Pop" or similar. With its short wheel base, ample clearance and tight turning circle, we have found this car to be a very good choice for Mexican roads, with their plentiful speed bumps ("topes"). Unfortunately, our requested car was not available and we ended up with a free upgrade to a Dodge "Stratus". While bigger, more comfortable and with air conditioning, this car turned out to be completely unsuitable for Mexican road conditions away from the major cities - the lack of ground clearance alone meant we bottomed out on even the puniest of "topes". Driving at night in this region of Mexico is not advisable.Many are mindful of the recent civil unrest in Chiapas and we suspect this accounted for the low numbers of Western tourists we encountered during our visit. While it is always advisable to be cautious, we experienced no major difficulties related to the Zapatista uprising and we are not aware of any current travel advisories for the region.WeatherIn the tropical lowlands of the north, conditions were invariably hot, humid and hazy, and frequently overcast. At higher altitudes further south, temperatures were still high but the humidity was greatly reduced and conditions were generally clear. The only rain we encountered was in the early morning in the Lagos de Montebello area on May 11th.HealthMalaria prophylaxis is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's "Yellow Book" ( ). Mosquitoes were numerous in places but not as much of a presence as we expected - in fact, insect repellent was mostly not necessary. Ticks and fearsome tabanid biting flies (horseflies and their ilk) were also encountered in some numbers. We drank only bottled water or water we filtered ourselves using an MSR Miniworks water filter (highly recommended). We were careful not to eat uncooked foods such as fruits and vegetables, but in remote areas this became impractical to avoid and we both succumbed to gastrointestinal problems by the time we returned home.Itinerary and birdsMay 5th: Villahermosa to PalenqueWe arrived at Villahermosa by mid-afternoon, picked up our rental car and immediately headed east, aiming to reach Palenque before nightfall. Driving east from Villahermosa on Route 186, the landscape is dominated by open pasture, savannah and occasional marshes. Roadside pools produced the first WOOD STORK, LIMPKIN and NORTHERN JACANAS of the trip. Still within the state of Tabasco, a bare tree beside the road held three APLOMADO FALCONS - these turned out to be the only Aplomados of the trip.Once in Chiapas, we turned south toward Palenque on Route 199, the Ocosingo Road. One military checkpoint at the 186-199 intersection was quickly negotiated. Further stops for birds along this stretch produced MANGROVE SWALLOWS, GRAY-BREASTED MARTINS and PALE-VENTED PIGEONS on roadside wires. The light was fading badly by the time we pulled in to the campground below the Mayan ruins at Palenque, but we did find our first MELODIOUS BLACKBIRD of the trip before settling in to our tent for the night.May 6th: Palenque and the Usumacinta MarshesPalenque is probably the best known Mayan ruin site in Chiapas and is on the itinerary of many tourists to the region. For good reason too, as the ruins themselves are magnificent. For birders, Palenque offers easy access to remnant patches of rain forest and is a good place to start a birding trip.Well before dawn, the calls of MOTTLED and BLACK-AND-WHITE OWLS were heard from the forest around the tent. As dawn approached howler monkeys joined the chorus with their intimidating growls - we found these primates to be a common presence in the rain forests we visited. At first light, we set off on foot for the ruins, a short walk up the road. Birding along the road itself was good, producing OLIVE-THROATED (AZTEC) PARAKEET, BROWN-HOODED PARROT, CRIMSON-COLLARED, PASSERINI'S (SCARLET-RUMPED) and YELLOW-WINGED TANAGERS and MONTEZUMA OROPENDOLAS. WHITE-COLLARED SWIFTS circled overhead, often in large numbers. At the museum we left the road, heading up the hill on a paved trail into the forest to the south. Bird activity was much less in the forest interior, but we obtained brief views of a WEDGE-TAILED SABREWING before being turned back to the road by docents. One frustrating aspect of Palenque is that the ruins do not open to the public until 8:00 am. Apparently access to this particular trail is restricted in a similar manner and we were forced to return to the museum.Back on the road, birding en route to the ruins remained good, producing our first views of KEEL-BILLED TOUCAN, WHITE-BELLIED EMERALD, RUFOUS-TAILED HUMMINGBIRD, BUFF-THROATED SALTATOR, VARIABLE SEEDEATER and SPOT-BREASTED WREN. With plenty to look at, we made slow progress toward the ruins and didn't arrive at the main entrance until well after 8:00 am. At the parking area by the entrance, SOCIABLE and BOAT-BILLED FLYCATCHERS and GREAT KISKADEES for near each other for an interesting comparison.Inside the ruin complex, two BAT FALCONS perched high on the ruins and did not seem perturbed by the accumulating hoards of tourists. We decided to head straight for the renowned 'Temple of Inscriptions Trail' described by Howell (Howell 1999) while the day was still young, but to our disappointment we found this trail was closed to the public after only 50 yards or so. The docents on guard allowed us to proceed a little further beyond the closure point when we explained we were looking for birds, but this did not really provide the birding opportunity we had hoped for. Returning to the main ruin complex, following the edge of the clearing looking for fruiting trees proved to be a productive alternative. At the east end of the clearing, some fruiting trees were attracting large numbers of birds, with three species of euphonia, GOLDEN-HOODED TANAGER, RED-LEGGED HONEYCREEPER and GOLDEN-WINGED WARBLER all in the same tree.We returned to the campsite by descending the trail back to the museum (now open). Birds observed in the forest interior here included COLLARED TROGON, ROYAL FLYCATCHER, LESSER GREENLET and GOLDEN-CROWNED WARBLER.After lunch and a siesta we headed for the Usumacinta Marshes, along the Tabasco-Campeche state line. This area proved highly productive and since it constituted the only wetland habitat on our entire itinerary, many species on our trip list were encountered here and nowhere else. As suggested by Howell (Howell 1999), we drove through the area, checking the fields and savannas along Route 186 and its various side roads, looking for water. Most of the area was dry, but persistent searching paid off. Highlights included many BARE-THROATED TIGER-HERONS and LAUGHING FALCONS, PLAIN-BREASTED and RUDDY GROUND-DOVES, a half-dozen FORK-TAILED FLYCATCHERS, TROPICAL MOCKINGBIRDS and BLUE-GRAY TANAGERS. On the Tabasco side of the state line, we encountered a group of 4 GRASSLAND YELLOW-FINCHES and a single YUCATAN JAY. Our day ended at dusk along the Palizada side-road in Campeche, where we found 2 PINNATED BITTERNS, a SNAIL KITE and an adorable AMERICAN PYGMY KINGFISHER. At dusk, we found a group of 4 GRAY-NECKED WOOD-RAILS foraging in a flooded woodlot next to the road. In fading light, scanning the fields en route back to 186 produced scope views of a single DOUBLE-STRIPED THICK-KNEE, and what was probably another thick-knee flew across the road as we approached the 186 intersection.May 7th: Palenque, BonampakAfter a second night at the Palenque campground, we spent the morning birding the access road to the ruins again and also checked out the Cascada Trail, which leaves the access road to the right below the ruins, providing another opportunity for some interior forest birding.Despite having birded the road the previous day, we encountered more new species - WHITE-FRONTED PARROT, BLACK-HEADED TROGON, STREAK-HEADED WOODCREEPER and BLACK-HEADED SALTATOR.The Cascada Trail leads to a beautiful waterfall (cascada) a short distance from the road. The stream can be forded with care at the top of the waterfall and then continues through forest for a mile or so before the forest ends. Close to the road, a BLACK-FACED (MEXICAN) ANTTHRUSH foraged in the leaf litter. At the waterfall, we encountered a stunning male WHITE-NECKED JACOBIN that hovered briefly over the creek. Further along the trail, a large bird flushed from the ground with a whirr of wings and perched briefly on a fallen trunk before disappearing - male RUDDY QUAIL-DOVE. Deeper into the forest, we found a selection of forest-interior flycatchers, including YELLOW-BELLIED TYRANNULET and OCHRE-BELLIED and SULPHUR-RUMPED FLYCATCHERS. Scrambling through the dense undergrowth allowed us to get close to a superb WESTERN LONG-TAILED (LONG-TAILED) HERMIT. A male GOLDEN-OLIVE WOODPECKER was foraging along the trail where the forest gave way to brush and farmland.After lunch, we broke camp and headed for the Mayan ruin site of Bonampak, in the Selva Lacandona to the southeast of Palenque. Access to this site has changed considerably since the account provided by Howell (Howell 1999) was published. First, the road from Palenque is now paved all the way to Lacanjá and beyond, so that driving to Bonampak presents no major difficulties. Second, the Mayan ruins at Bonampak have been developed for tourism, with consequent advantages and disadvantages for the visiting birder. On the positive side, it is now easy to find the ruins, which are well signposted, and the 9-km rutted track that once led to the ruins is now a broad gravel road with a large visitor center at the entrance. However, as at Palenque, access to the ruins is now quite restricted - camping at the ruins themselves is no longer allowed and the ruins are now open only from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm. Resident caretakers enforce these restrictions round the clock. Shuttle buses carry visitors from the visitor center down the 9-km road to the ruins between the hours of 8:00 am and 4:00 pm (approximately!). Hopefully these restrictions will promote preservation of the area's archeological and biological assets.The drive from Palenque to Bonampak was uninspiring, if not depressing - there is little remaining forest to see, much of it having been replaced by sickly-looking pasture or having recently been cut and burned. Bonampak itself however, is situated in excellent and accessible forest habitat, making the effort of reaching the area very worthwhile. Once at the visitor center, the nigh watchman explained the access restrictions to us, but having understood we were primarily interested in birds, he very graciously allowed us to camp in a small clearing near the visitor center. We also learned that while the ruins themselves do not open until 8:00 am, we were welcome to bird the 9-km access road and various forest trails by foot at any time.There was little daylight left to explore once we had set up camp, but the difference in habitat quality between Bonampak and Palenque was immediately obvious - as we investigated the area around the visitor center around dusk, GREAT, LITTLE and SLATY-BREASTED TINAMOUS could all be heard calling from the surrounding forest! A short walk along the access road produced STRIPE-THROATED (LITTLE) HERMIT, VIOLACEOUS TROGON, RUFOUS MOURNER, THRUSH-LIKE SHIFFORNIS (MOURNER), CINNAMON BECARD, LONG-BILLED GNATWREN, TROPICAL GNATCATCHER and BLACK-FACED and BLUE-BLACK GROSBEAKS. After dark, three MOTTLED OWLS began calling in the vicinity of our campsite and a single CRESTED OWL called from the canopy immediately above the tent.May 8th: BonampakStarting at dawn, we spent the morning birding the 9-km access road to the ruins. This was an easy walk with excellent birding - highlights included 5 WHITE-CROWNED and 3 MEALY PARROTS, a LESSER SWALLOW-TAILED SWIFT overhead, both WESTERN LONG-TAILED and STRIPE-THROATED HERMITS, 3 WHITE-NECKED JACOBINS, VIOLACEOUS and SLATY-TAILED TROGONS, COLLARED ARACARIS, PLAIN XENOPS, BUFF-THROATED FOLIAGE-GLEANER, DOT-WINGED ANTWRENS, a RUFOUS PIHA, 2 male RED-CAPPED MANAKINS, ROYAL FLYCATCHER, BRIGHT-RUMPED ATTILA, WHITE-BREASTED WOOD-WREN and BANANAQUIT. As we neared the ruins, the trail crossed a stagnant-looking creek where we found a stunning RUFOUS-TAILED JACAMAR. At the ruins themselves, birds included a male CHESTNUT-COLORED WOODPECKER, YELLOW-BELLIED ELAENIAS and a single adult KING VULTURE circling high overhead with the Black and Turkey Vultures.After resting in the shade and enjoying the magnificent ruins, we decided to beat the mid-afternoon heat and catch the convenient shuttle bus back to the visitor center and our camp site. The forest trails around the camp provided more excellent birding in the late afternoon - a pair of skulking TODY MOTMOTS, another BLACK-FACED


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