I recently added two new books to my library.
Kenn Kaufman’s updated version of his classic Advanced Birding belongs on every birder’s bookshelf. Along with detailed descriptions of some of the species groups that provide the biggest challenges, Kaufman takes a step back and discusses the broader aspects of bird identification. While fine details can be important, many birders don’t realize how useful habitat, behavior, and general impression of size and shape are in identifying birds, especially at a distance. So while it is really useful to have a reference that compares the call notes of all the Empidonax flycatchers, it is also useful to have several chapters on “how to bird,” something that will benefit birders of every level.
While there is a lot to dislike about Kansas (extensive industrial agriculture, doctors being assassinated, creationism in the schools), the Sunflower State hosts a great variety of bird life. I learned to bird in Kansas, and while I have been away for many years, I still consider it one of the best areas in the country for birding.
The new Birds of Kansas is an annotated checklist of that state’s avifauna. Each species has its own page, with a color photo, map of the state showing where the bird has been documented, and information about status, habitat, migration, and breeding.
What makes this book enjoyable to flip through, aside from the easy-to-read layout, are the color photos from noted photographer Bob Gress and 26 other photographers. I was thrilled that my photo of a Great Black-backed Gull was chosen for that species account. This book is a great combination of birding reference and coffee table book. It may not contain as much detail as the voluminous Birds of Oregon, A General Reference, but it is much more interesting to peruse.