By John Acorn, Alan Smith & Nicola Koper | Greystone Books | 2018 | Paperback | 280 pages, 36 colour photos, maps |

ISBN-13: 9781771643269

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Best Places to Bird in the Prairies

The Publisher’s View: In Best Places to Bird in the Prairies, three of Canada’s top birders reveal their favourite destinations for spotting local birds in Alberta, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan. They highlight thirty-six highly recommended sites, each of which has been expertly selected for the unique species that reside there. With exclusive lists of specialty birds, splendid colour photography, and plenty of insider tips for finding and identifying birdlife year-round, Best Places to Bird in the Prairies, is accessible and easy-to-use – an indispensable resource that will inspire both novice and seasoned birders to put on their walking shoes, grab their binoculars, and start exploring.

The destinations they feature are as varied as the birds that are found there, ranging from rural to urban, easily accessible to remote. The authors provide clear maps, detailed directions, and alternative routes wherever possible to ensure the experience is satisfying for first-time visitors and experienced birders alike.

The Authors: John Acorn is a lifelong naturalist. He was the writer and host of two television series and is the author of seventeen books on natural history. Born and raised in Edmonton, he teaches at the University of Alberta in the Department of Renewable Resources.

Alan Smith spent thirty-seven years with the Canadian Wildlife Service, during which time he was involved in the establishment and running of Last Mountain Bird Observatory (LMBO). He is a life member of Nature Saskatchewan, sits on the Board of Directors of Bird Studies Canada, and is the author of three previous birding books. He lives in Avonlea, Saskatchewan.

Nicola Koper is a professor of conservation biology at the University of Manitoba, is scientific advisor to numerous government organizations, and is actively involved in volunteer programs such as the Manitoba Breeding Bird Atlas. She has co-authored over fifty scientific journal articles in ecology and has written for popular magazines such as Cottage Life. She lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Fatbirder View:Often people will mail me and ask what a bird is they have seen in their garden or local park. I then have to ask them where they are as most assume that I am where they are whether its Birmingham, Alabama, US or Birmingham, West Midlands, UK. I fell into a similar trap seeing the title of this book and assumed it was about the US Midwest not three Canadian provinces. So, it would have helped to have ‘Canada’ somewhere in the title. Actually it would have been even better if some US authors had been approached to do the same treatment for their prairies.

Reading further I’m now more inclined to think the title should be ‘where to watch birds in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba’ as many of the sites described are around lakes, woodland and urban areas rather than on the plains. Moreover, as someone write regarding their own province there are probably less than 100 serious birders there, so this book must be aimed at visitors for the most part.

None of the above should detract from what is, for the most part great content… its well and entertainingly written and has a very clear and appealing layout. The maps are good (although a few on a larger scale would be nice) and the consistent pattern of each entry makes it easy to use and very accessible. The illustrating photos are also mostly good with one or two less so but that’s forgivable, as this is not an ID guide.

If I were visiting any of the three provinces I’d certainly want this book with me and would use it beforehand to decide on where to go and when to do so.

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