This is the most complete and authoritative reference book about the birds of North America—up to date and in field-guide format.
The Birder's Handbook is the first of its kind: a portable library of fascinating information not included in your identification guide. For each of the 646 species of birds that breed in North America, The Birder's Handbook will tell you at a glance:
* Where the bird nests, and which sex(es) build(s) the nest;
* How many eggs the bird lays, what they look like, which patent incubates and for how long, and how the young are cared for;
* Food preferences and foraging habits.
You will also find information about displays and mating, wintering, conservation status, and much more. In addition, The Birder's Handbook contains some 250 short essays covering all aspects of avian natural history.
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This is a superb resource--the essays I read were fascinating, authoritative, clear and concise. It would be hard to learn more interesting things about birds faster or more effortlessly. If it didn't go completely viral maybe it was directed at the wrong audience, the mere twitchers (the Brits' uncomplimentary term for life-listers whose interests seem to stop at identification). Here is a book for people who really are interested in birds--not just in listing how many species they've seen. I was never very good at identifying species but I did a Ph.D. on owls because I love and am fascinated by them. Since then I have spent my life studying whales for the same reasons (and am still not very good at identifying more than a few species).
If you find birdwatching OK but not compelling, and are discouraged that it spends so little time looking at the lives of what it spends so much time searching for, this book is for you. Maybe I'm just weird, but maybe you are too, in which case, this still is the book for you.
Whatever the outcome it's a damn good read, as well it might be, given that the lead author is Paul Ehrlich, a first-rate scientist, explainer, and clarifier. The fact that such a clear thinker was willing to take on a massive effort like this makes this a book well worth owning.
In the interests of full disclosure: I am aware that I may have insulted some people with this comment, but I am grateful for such an opportunity.