THE SHOREBIRD GUIDE
Michael O'Brien, Richard Crossley and Kevin Karlson
Click here for a sample page from The Shorebird Guide.
This comprehensive guide to the world of shorebirds
presents an initial approach to bird
identification quite different from that found in other books. Rather than
relying solely on stunning photographic portraits, it presents a more real-life
image of each species, including distant birds, mixed-species flocks and varied
lighting conditions. Comparisons in the same photo to other members of its own
species, as well as other similar or dissimilar shorebirds, are crucial to
understanding important considerations of size, structure and variation within
each species at the same time of year and under similar lighting conditions. All
these factors combine to convey a more realistic impression of each species and
place it in context with the real world. After all, this is how we see birds in
Almost 900 color photographs are contained in the species
accounts sections, with each account beginning with a heading describing
fundamentals of size, structure and behavior – characteristics that apply to
all individuals, regardless of age or plumage. Status and a range map are also
included in the heading to give a sense of where and when each species is likely
to occur. The galleries of photos were carefully selected to represent a year in
the life of a shorebird, beginning with a general impression photo covering
representative habitat and behavior. Remaining photos progress chronologically
through the life cycle of each species, beginning with juvenal plumage and
continuing through subadult to adult appearances. These comprehensive layouts
also include transitional plumages and progressive stages of plumage wear.
Group photos are interspersed throughout the galleries and
often contain similar species. These are important since they depict variation
in plumage and posture within a species and allow for direct comparison to other
shorebirds. Each photo, except the opening impression, has a caption that
highlights selected identification or aging criteria. Flight photos occur at the
end of each account and attached captions describe the most common flight calls.
Photos were also chosen not just on their
merit for field ID, but how they meshed with color coordination and balance of
poses and sizes with others on the page. This was done to enhance the artistic
and visual attractiveness of the overall product.
Many photo captions contain quizzes in the form of
questions, whose answers are found in the appendix. This allows for an
interactive experience for the reader, and
more detailed analysis of certain
photos. Full page photos, many depicting action or behavior, are
interspersed throughout the species accounts to allow for artistic appreciation
of shorebirds. Photo sections are separated into domestic species and rarities,
to allow for a simpler location of
The second half of the book contains a concise summary of
status, taxonomy, behavior, migration, molt and vocalizations. This text is
designed to be supplementary information to assist with various aspects of field
identification. Species that nest or regularly occur in
are covered in more detail, but adequate information is supplied for
extralimital rarities and regional specialties.
While much of the identification criteria focuses on basics
of size, structure, behavior, habitat and vocalizations, more specialized
treatment involving variations in plumage, molt timing and detailed comparisons
of similar species is also included. In fact, straightforward explanations on
how to separate species historically regarded by many as undoable, such as the
dowitchers, Semipalmated versus Western Sandpipers and subspecies of both
willets is included, with photographs added to help with visualization.
The Shorebird Guide hopefully will enable birders to ‘think outside the box’ and use an approach
to field identification that is simpler yet surprisingly accurate when compared
with traditional disciplines. If nothing else, numerous stunning and dramatic
photos will stimulate the senses and make you want to get out and look a bit
closer at these wonderful members of the bird world.
Published by Houghton Mifflin.
ISBN-13/EAN: 9780618432943; $24.95
Vinyl-bound; 496 pages, with 870 color photographs
Publication Date: 04/24/2006