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How to Be a Better Birder

Overview

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 ...

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Overview

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 birders


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Editorial Reviews

American Birding Association
The goal of birding, of any hobby, is expertise gratia sua, and the only reason we do it is to do it better. This slender new volume by Derek Lovitch will help almost any birder do just that. . . . Lovitch is at his very best in the book's central chapters, where he offers detailed instruction in reading weather forecasts for finding birds . . . the skills we're taught in this book will make it even more fun—and make us all better birders.
— Rick Wright
Birdbooker Report
This book will be most useful for intermediate level birders. The section on NEXRAD radar will be useful to all birders.
— Ian Paulsen
Digiscoper Blog
Birders of all backgrounds and skill levels are almost certain to learn something useful in Derek Lovitch's book How to Be a Better Birder. Can you become a better birder? This book offers a resounding 'yes' to that question. Refreshingly, this book is not filled with diagnostic plates and diagrams to study, but a 'whole bird and more' holistic approach to ID, and to the overall pastime of birding as well. As you will discover, the author offers a lot of ways on becoming a better birder that go beyond being able to correctly identify birds in the field.
— Mike McDowell
Vancouver Sun
How to Be a Better Birder is for birders who have moved from the beginner stages and want to hone their skills. . . . If you can identify most birds in your neighbourhood and want to learn more so that you can really enjoy the fun of birding wherever you go, then Derek Lovitch's book will be a useful guide to hours of enjoyment in watching our wild birds.
— Rob Butler
A Charm of Finches
Birders at any experience level will find something of interest in this slender volume.
— Penny Miller
Nature of Things
Derek Lovitch has written a book which is useful for birders at any level of proficiency from the beginner to the obsessive lister.
— Dorothy Borders
Andy Stoddart's blog
[How to Be a Better Birder] is written in a chatty, enthusiastic and accessible style which works well. Lovitch is a great communicator and it is hard not to be enthused by the examples provided of how to generate your own 'great days in the field.' . . . For those with a little less experience, this book provides a fabulous store of information and encouragement which will certainly make your birding more purposeful, productive and enjoyable.
Pittsburgh Bird Watching Examiner
Birdwatchers bent on self-improvement will want to turn to Derek Lovitch's How to Be a Better Birder. . . . Writing in the accessible, breezy prose of a blog, Lovitch provides a rich compendium of tools, techniques, and resources useful to anyone who's mastered elementary bird watching. Among the tools discussed are botany, maps, meteorology, and NEXRAD; a list of print and web resources for further study is included in each discussion. The amount of information packed into this brief handbook is formidable. Interspersed among the technical details—and perhaps equally informative—are the author's personal stories of birding adventures and misadventures told with self-effacing humor.
— Fannie Peczenik
Birdfreak.com
While there is no trick or fast-track to being a great birder, this book provides a lot of easy to follow and easy to practice methods to increase your birding skills and your enjoyment of birding. . . . The tone and flow of the book allow you to gradually learn new methods to be a better birder. You're bound to find several nuggets of information that you can use today, tomorrow, and always in the search for more birds.
— Eddie Callaway
Portland Press Herald
A birding book that should fly off the shelves. . . . To become proficient at any activity, we all know the mantra: practice, practice, practice. Lovitch urges us to really study all the birds we see, including the most common birds around us. He also suggests that a more holistic approach to bird identification may be a more fruitful way to go about the process of identifying a bird.
— Herb Wilson
Towheeblog
A new take on a well-rehearsed subject. . . . It breaks new ground in its discussions of how, where and when to find vagrants, rarities and large numbers of migrating birds.
Bird Watching Magazine
Derek Lovitch uses his years of experience birding in Maine and around the world to describe the field skills of top-notch birders. He explains how to use habitat, geography, and weather to find more birds and to anticipate vagrants. And he argues that if we care about the future of birds, we must bird with a purpose, joining citizen-science projects and submitting sightings to eBird.
Birding Business Magazine
This is an easy read that, even for a serious birder, can serve to shine a light on how old-fashioned field skills can be brought into play more quickly and more often through the use of technology, to determine where the birds are most likely to be found, when they're most likely to be there, and why. When that special life-list vagrant from across the country happens to show up, you'll know right away how to find it before the rest of the crowd. Even top-notch birders can sharpen their skills in an evening spent with this book.
Booklist
Lovitch provides a good resource for birders who want to go beyond the basics. Calling his approach the 'Whole Bird and More,' the author presents his system in clear language and with examples mostly drawn from his experiences in the field.
— Nancy Bent
North Norfolk Birds
[I]t is written in a chatty, enthusiastic and accessible style which works well. Lovitch is a great communicator and it is hard not to be enthused by the examples provided of how to generate your own 'great days in the field'. . . . [T]his book provides a fabulous store of information and encouragement which will certainly make your birding more purposeful, productive and enjoyable.
— Andy Stoddart
Drinking Bird
We've come a long way in our quest to put a name to everything that flies, but the biggest tricks in a birder's arsenal aren't necessarily employed to differentiate subadult gulls and silent Empids. Turns out there's a reason certain birders are particularly adept at sniffing out rarities and tracking down vagrants. And Derek Lovitch's new book from Princeton University Press, seductively titled How to Be a Better Birder, seeks to spill all their secrets.
— Nate Swick
Birding World
[T]he book will no doubt inspire many birdwatchers to take their birding skills to the next level.
— Bryan Bland
Wildlife Activist
This is a good book for experienced birders. It will cause you to think through your current birding habits and challenge you to expand your knowledge and skills. . . . Chance does favor the prepared mind. I will buy this book.
— Robert E. Hoopes
Wildlife Conservation Examiner
This book, however, is unexpectedly exciting, intriguing and inspiring—It makes me want to get out there, learn what the heck I'm doing, do it better, and actually strive to become, just like the title says, a better birder.
— Cathy Taibbi
Audubon magazine
Becoming a better birder requires practice, but Lovitch provides the tools for those willing to put in the work to be the best they can be.
— Michele Berger
Canadian Field Naturalist
How To Be A Better Birder is a quick read and an important addition to a birder's education. . . . The tips and methods discussed at length in the book take out much of the guesswork in finding a variety of birds on the landscape, including rarities and vagrants. The best part however, is getting out and having fun. Birding is not about getting birds on a list; it is about enjoying birds and seeing them in the wild. Use Lovitch's book as a launching pad to get out and bird with a purpose.
— Howard O. Clark, Jr.
Ibis
How to Be a Better Birder will undoubtedly encourage other birders to become more active in the field, and is recommended to anyone interested in improving their birding knowledge and skills in many different ways.
— Christopher J. Butler
Audubon magazine - Michele Berger
Becoming a better birder requires practice, but Lovitch provides the tools for those willing to put in the work to be the best they can be.
American Birding Association - Rick Wright
The goal of birding, of any hobby, is expertise gratia sua, and the only reason we do it is to do it better. This slender new volume by Derek Lovitch will help almost any birder do just that. . . . Lovitch is at his very best in the book's central chapters, where he offers detailed instruction in reading weather forecasts for finding birds . . . the skills we're taught in this book will make it even more fun—and make us all better birders.
Birdbooker Report - Ian Paulsen
This book will be most useful for intermediate level birders. The section on NEXRAD radar will be useful to all birders.
Digiscoper Blog - Mike McDowell
Birders of all backgrounds and skill levels are almost certain to learn something useful in Derek Lovitch's book How to Be a Better Birder. Can you become a better birder? This book offers a resounding 'yes' to that question. Refreshingly, this book is not filled with diagnostic plates and diagrams to study, but a 'whole bird and more' holistic approach to ID, and to the overall pastime of birding as well. As you will discover, the author offers a lot of ways on becoming a better birder that go beyond being able to correctly identify birds in the field.
Vancouver Sun - Rob Butler
How to Be a Better Birder is for birders who have moved from the beginner stages and want to hone their skills. . . . If you can identify most birds in your neighbourhood and want to learn more so that you can really enjoy the fun of birding wherever you go, then Derek Lovitch's book will be a useful guide to hours of enjoyment in watching our wild birds.
A Charm of Finches - Penny Miller
Birders at any experience level will find something of interest in this slender volume.
Nature of Things - Dorothy Borders
Derek Lovitch has written a book which is useful for birders at any level of proficiency from the beginner to the obsessive lister.
Pittsburgh Bird Watching Examiner - Fannie Peczenik
Birdwatchers bent on self-improvement will want to turn to Derek Lovitch's How to Be a Better Birder. . . . Writing in the accessible, breezy prose of a blog, Lovitch provides a rich compendium of tools, techniques, and resources useful to anyone who's mastered elementary bird watching. Among the tools discussed are botany, maps, meteorology, and NEXRAD; a list of print and web resources for further study is included in each discussion. The amount of information packed into this brief handbook is formidable. Interspersed among the technical details—and perhaps equally informative—are the author's personal stories of birding adventures and misadventures told with self-effacing humor.
10,000 Birds blog - Donna Schulman
How to Be a Better Birder is a very different kind of birding book, and, once you think about it, the perfect book to be written at this particular moment in the birding universe. . . . Strategic has become an overused word in some areas, but that is really what Derek Lovitch is presenting in this slim volume, a way to maximize our time in the field, to see the most and the best birds possible using field experience and technology. Do you want to be a better birder, a strategic birder? I think there is something in this book that will help birders at every level.
Birdfreak.com - Eddie Callaway
While there is no trick or fast-track to being a great birder, this book provides a lot of easy to follow and easy to practice methods to increase your birding skills and your enjoyment of birding. . . . The tone and flow of the book allow you to gradually learn new methods to be a better birder. You're bound to find several nuggets of information that you can use today, tomorrow, and always in the search for more birds.
Portland Press Herald - Herb Wilson
A birding book that should fly off the shelves. . . . To become proficient at any activity, we all know the mantra: practice, practice, practice. Lovitch urges us to really study all the birds we see, including the most common birds around us. He also suggests that a more holistic approach to bird identification may be a more fruitful way to go about the process of identifying a bird.
Booklist - Nancy Bent
Lovitch provides a good resource for birders who want to go beyond the basics. Calling his approach the 'Whole Bird and More,' the author presents his system in clear language and with examples mostly drawn from his experiences in the field.
North Norfolk Birds - Andy Stoddart
[I]t is written in a chatty, enthusiastic and accessible style which works well. Lovitch is a great communicator and it is hard not to be enthused by the examples provided of how to generate your own 'great days in the field'. . . . [T]his book provides a fabulous store of information and encouragement which will certainly make your birding more purposeful, productive and enjoyable.
Drinking Bird - Nate Swick
We've come a long way in our quest to put a name to everything that flies, but the biggest tricks in a birder's arsenal aren't necessarily employed to differentiate subadult gulls and silent Empids. Turns out there's a reason certain birders are particularly adept at sniffing out rarities and tracking down vagrants. And Derek Lovitch's new book from Princeton University Press, seductively titled How to Be a Better Birder, seeks to spill all their secrets.
Birding World - Bryan Bland
[T]he book will no doubt inspire many birdwatchers to take their birding skills to the next level.
Wildlife Activist - Robert E. Hoopes
This is a good book for experienced birders. It will cause you to think through your current birding habits and challenge you to expand your knowledge and skills. . . . Chance does favor the prepared mind. I will buy this book.
Wildlife Conservation Examiner - Cathy Taibbi
This book, however, is unexpectedly exciting, intriguing and inspiring—It makes me want to get out there, learn what the heck I'm doing, do it better, and actually strive to become, just like the title says, a better birder.
Greg Laden's Blog
A lovely, well written and pretty well illustrated guide that focuses, in my view, mainly on one thing you can do to improve your birding: Pay attention to and exploit your knowledge of context.
Candian Field Naturalist - Howard O. Clark
How To Be A Better Birder is a quick read and an important addition to a birder's education. . . . The tips and methods discussed at length in the book take out much of the guesswork in finding a variety of birds on the landscape, including rarities and vagrants. The best part however, is getting out and having fun. Birding is not about getting birds on a list; it is about enjoying birds and seeing them in the wild. Use Lovitch's book as a launching pad to get out and bird with a purpose.
Ibis - Christopher J. Butler
How to Be a Better Birder will undoubtedly encourage other birders to become more active in the field, and is recommended to anyone interested in improving their birding knowledge and skills in many different ways.
Cardinal newsletter - Valerie Cunningham
This small book will help birders have better chances at seeing birds.
Minneapolis Star-Tribune - Val Cunningham
This is a fun book and one that holds promise to boost the reader's birding skills.
From the Publisher
"How to Be a Better Birder offers a surprising range of innovative tips for improving birding for such a slim book."—Melissa Mayntz, About.com Birding/Wild Birds

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691144481
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 3/25/2012
  • Pages: 208
  • Sales rank: 727,132
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the 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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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
Introduction 1
Chapter 1: Advanced Field Identification 5
Chapter 2: Birding by Habitat 31
Chapter 3: Birding with Geography 53
Chapter 4: Birding and Weather 75
Chapter : Birding at Night 101
Chapter 6: Birding with a Purpose 123
Chapter 7: Vagrants 134
Chapter 8: A New Jersey Case Study 155
Chapter 9: Patch Listing 172
References and Additional Reading 181
Index 187

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