How to be a Better Birder by Derek Lovitch | Softcover | 2012 | ISBN: 9780691144481 | 224 pages, 53 Colour Illustrations, 10 maps | Princeton University Press

Publisher’s View: This unique illustrated handbook provides all the essential tools you need to become a better birder. Here Derek Lovitch offers a more effective way to go about identification–he calls it the “Whole Bird and More” approach–that will enable you to identify more birds, more quickly, more of the time. He demonstrates how to use geography and an understanding of habitats, ecology, and even the weather to enrich your birding experience and help you find something out of the ordinary. Lovitch shows how to track nocturnal migrants using radar, collect data for bird conservation, discover exciting rarities, develop patch lists–and much more.

This is the ideal resource for intermediate and advanced birders. Whether you want to build a bigger list or simply learn more about birds, How to Be a Better Birder will take your birding skills to the next level.

Explains the “Whole Bird and More” approach to bird identification
Demonstrates how to use geography, habitats, ecology, and the weather to be a better birder
Shows how to bird at night using radar, collect conservation data, develop patch lists–and more
Offers essential tools for intermediate and advanced birdersFatbirder View: I’d like to be able to endorse the publisher’s view of this book, despite what readers of my ‘Grumpy Old Birder’ columns and blogs might think, I much prefer to praise than to pulverize. However, I found very little in this book that I haven’t seen elsewhere and the central message; ‘the whole bird and more’ seems to me to be nothing more than a rehash of the long held technique of half the birders I know including me! Essentially its about birding by ‘Jizz’. It could be that an American author might be reluctant to use this word as it has another life – try Googling it and you’ll see that it has an unsavoury meaning. In English English it stands for ‘general impression of size and shape etc.’

So, for me, there were no major revelations and advice like ‘get to know the seasons’ or ‘ look at distribution maps’ seem so basic as to hardly warrant a place in a book about improving technique unless you are a complete novice, in which case you need a book called ‘How to be a birder’.

So maybe its one to slip in the Christmas stocking of a youngster who has looked at birds with interest but not yet taken up the pastime with fervor.

Lastly, a word to the publishers, when a book jacket is designed it needs to be looked at by someone with some expertise in the field. I don’t mind jokey covers with birds perched on the bonce, but give the poor blighter a decent pair of bins!

Author: Derek Lovitch has worked on avian research and education projects throughout the United States, has written numerous articles for birding publications, and was a columnist for “Birding” magazine. He now owns and runs Freeport Wild Bird Supply in Maine.


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