The Birdwatcher's Companion to North American Birdlife

Overview

The quintessential A-Z guide, this is a book that anyone interested in birds will want to have close at hand. First published more than twenty years ago, this highly respected reference volume has been fully revised and updated. It captures the fundamental details as well as the immense fascination of North American bird life in a style that is authoritative, yet fresh, witty, and eminently readable.

Both a practical handbook for amateurs and a handy reference for seasoned ...

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Overview

The quintessential A-Z guide, this is a book that anyone interested in birds will want to have close at hand. First published more than twenty years ago, this highly respected reference volume has been fully revised and updated. It captures the fundamental details as well as the immense fascination of North American bird life in a style that is authoritative, yet fresh, witty, and eminently readable.

Both a practical handbook for amateurs and a handy reference for seasoned birders, it provides accounts of the basic elements of birdlife, as well as a wealth of easy-to-access information on such subjects as bird physiology and anatomy, terms and jargon, name definitions and etymology, and ornithological groupings.

Readers will discover everything from the color of a dipper's eggs (glossy, white, and unmarked) to the number of species of woodpeckers in the world (216). They will also find more than one hundred of the best-known and most colorful colloquial names for birds, alphabetized and briefly defined. Collective nouns relating to birdlife--for example, "an exaltation of larks"--are included in the "Nouns of Assemblage" section. Biographical sketches of persons responsible for describing or naming a significant number of North American species are also included, as well as handsome and accurate illustrations by Gordon Morrison. And for those who want to go beyond reading about their favorite birds and take to the great outdoors, the book offers still more useful information: descriptive entries on a selection of the best-known birdwatching spots of North America.

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Editorial Reviews

Bird Watcher's Digest Staff
This is a reference book for the ages that transcends mere North American use. . . . The entries are informative, easily assimilated, and also written with spirit, humor, and charm as well as authority.
— Henry T. Armistead
Minneapolis Star Tribune

This is a wonderful book that I highly recommend. . . . I've had the original, encyclopedic book for years and couldn't do without it.
— Jim Williams
Bird Watcher's Digest - Henry T. Armistead
This is a reference book for the ages that transcends mere North American use. . . . The entries are informative, easily assimilated, and also written with spirit, humor, and charm as well as authority.
Audubon Naturalist News - Michael Bowen
How, I marveled, could one human being know so much about so many things, yet write about them so engagingly, without an ounce of pretension and with so much wit? . . . This is the sort of book that one can imagine reading page after page, like a novel, on a dark winter's day when there's no good reason to go outdoors. . . . It's equal parts erudition and plain fascination, laced with good humor.
Birder's World - Jerome A. Jackson
[A book] to nestle into a favorite chair with at the end of a good day's birding. It's a volume that can be picked up anytime and opened randomly for a bit of bird-lore. . . . Above all, it's a guide that will lead to a greater enjoyment and understanding of birds.
Birding - Ted Floyd
Like any good reference work, The Birdwatcher's Companion to North American Birdlife is thorough and authoritative, its thousands of entries running the gamut from physiology and taxonomy to conservation and birder culture. But unlike most references, it is actually a delight to read; throughout, the writing is lively and engaging. Keep a copy on your desk by day, and curl up to another at bedtime.
Doctor; BirdLife International - Gerard A. Bertrand
One of the best books ever written on birds and birding. This reference work is not only comprehensive and accurate, but also vastly entertaining. A virtuoso performance.
Minneapolis Star-Tribune - Jim Williams
This is a wonderful book that I highly recommend. . . . I've had the original, encyclopedic book for years and couldn't do without it.
Ibis - Kris Jones
This A-Z reference guide provides a wealth of information, from the basics to little-known trivia. Authors are rare who can incorporate both technical and non-technical terminology into an encyclopedia that is readable—much less pleasurable to read—but Leahy has been successful on both accounts.
Discovery - Christine Adkins
One can randomly open this handy guide to all things birdy and glean myriad tidbits of useful or interesting information, and sometimes both...The writing is clear and direct, and not without humor...This welcome second edition...has something to offer beginners and seasoned birders alike, and is well worth the reasonable price.
British Columbia Birds - R.A. Buhler
[The Birdwatcher's Companion to North American Birdlife] would certainly warrant a place in any birder's library. With the text being as readable as it is most birders, and even non-birding friends and spouses, may even find themselves reading through it just for the enjoyment of discovering more interesting facts about the birds around them.
Prairie Naturalist - Lawrence D. Igi
The Birdwatcher's Companion to North American Birdlife is an impressive and authoritative compilation of information on one of the most-studied groups of organisms in North America. Birders and bird enthusiasts will enjoy browsing through this book for its myriad of facts and entertaining essays. Leahy's light-hearted writing style, humorous anecdotes, and personal experiences add zest to many topics. Weighing just over 3.5 pounds, this beefy reference book is well worth the cost for any birder and will become a valuable resource for any biologist, ecologist, or manager who responds to questions from the ever-inquisitive public. In short, this book will appeal to those who love birds.
BirdLife International - Dr. Gerard A. Bertrand
One of the best books ever written on birds and birding. This reference work is not only comprehensive and accurate, but also vastly entertaining. A virtuoso performance.
British Columbia Birds - R. A. Buhler
[The Birdwatcher's Companion to North American Birdlife] would certainly warrant a place in any birder's library. With the text being as readable as it is most birders, and even non-birding friends and spouses, may even find themselves reading through it just for the enjoyment of discovering more interesting facts about the birds around them.
From the Publisher

"A thousand-page A-to-Z guide to all things avian. Leahy clearly loves birds, and this affectionate yet scholarly work offers everything from terse definitions and simple descriptions to thoughtful and authoritative essays. . . . There is much here that will engage every level of birder."--American Scientist

"This is a reference book for the ages that transcends mere North American use. . . . The entries are informative, easily assimilated, and also written with spirit, humor, and charm as well as authority."--Henry T. Armistead, Bird Watcher's Digest

"How, I marveled, could one human being know so much about so many things, yet write about them so engagingly, without an ounce of pretension and with so much wit? . . . This is the sort of book that one can imagine reading page after page, like a novel, on a dark winter's day when there's no good reason to go outdoors. . . . It's equal parts erudition and plain fascination, laced with good humor."--Michael Bowen, Audubon Naturalist News

"Birders take note! The fully revised and updated ultimate guide to North American birds is out and ready to be devoured by ornithologists of every stripe--professional, amateur, or somewhere in between. . . . Chock full of bird lore and scientific authority, this book is a never-ending source of delight."--Biology Digest

"[A book] to nestle into a favorite chair with at the end of a good day's birding. It's a volume that can be picked up anytime and opened randomly for a bit of bird-lore. . . . Above all, it's a guide that will lead to a greater enjoyment and understanding of birds."--Jerome A. Jackson, Birder's World

"Like any good reference work, The Birdwatcher's Companion to North American Birdlife is thorough and authoritative, its thousands of entries running the gamut from physiology and taxonomy to conservation and birder culture. But unlike most references, it is actually a delight to read; throughout, the writing is lively and engaging. Keep a copy on your desk by day, and curl up to another at bedtime."--Ted Floyd, Editor, Birding

"One of the best books ever written on birds and birding. This reference work is not only comprehensive and accurate, but also vastly entertaining. A virtuoso performance."--Dr. Gerard A. Bertrand, BirdLife International

"This is a wonderful book that I highly recommend. . . . I've had the original, encyclopedic book for years and couldn't do without it."--Jim Williams, Minneapolis Star Tribune

"Leahy's style is by turns serious and scholarly or personal and whimsical, appropriate to a comprehensive reference for both novice and expert birders. There is no recent comparable work."--Choice

"This A-Z reference guide provides a wealth of information, from the basics to little-known trivia. Authors are rare who can incorporate both technical and non-technical terminology into an encyclopedia that is readable--much less pleasurable to read--but Leahy has been successful on both accounts."--Kris Jones, Ibis
"This is a very useful reference book."--British Trust for Ornithology

"One can randomly open this handy guide to all things birdy and glean myriad tidbits of useful or interesting information, and sometimes both...The writing is clear and direct, and not without humor...This welcome second edition...has something to offer beginners and seasoned birders alike, and is well worth the reasonable price."--Christine Adkins, Discovery

"[The Birdwatcher's Companion to North American Birdlife] would certainly warrant a place in any birder's library. With the text being as readable as it is most birders, and even non-birding friends and spouses, may even find themselves reading through it just for the enjoyment of discovering more interesting facts about the birds around them."--R. A. Buhler, British Columbia Birds

"The Birdwatcher's Companion to North American Birdlife is an impressive and authoritative compilation of information on one of the most-studied groups of organisms in North America. Birders and bird enthusiasts will enjoy browsing through this book for its myriad of facts and entertaining essays. Leahy's light-hearted writing style, humorous anecdotes, and personal experiences add zest to many topics. Weighing just over 3.5 pounds, this beefy reference book is well worth the cost for any birder and will become a valuable resource for any biologist, ecologist, or manager who responds to questions from the ever-inquisitive public. In short, this book will appeal to those who love birds."--Lawrence D. Igi, Prairie Naturalist

American Scientist
A thousand-page A-to-Z guide to all things avian. Leahy clearly loves birds, and this affectionate yet scholarly work offers everything from terse definitions and simple descriptions to thoughtful and authoritative essays. . . . There is much here that will engage every level of birder.
Bird Watcher's Digest
This is a reference book for the ages that transcends mere North American use. . . . The entries are informative, easily assimilated, and also written with spirit, humor, and charm as well as authority.
— Henry T. Armistead
Audubon Naturalist News
How, I marveled, could one human being know so much about so many things, yet write about them so engagingly, without an ounce of pretension and with so much wit? . . . This is the sort of book that one can imagine reading page after page, like a novel, on a dark winter's day when there's no good reason to go outdoors. . . . It's equal parts erudition and plain fascination, laced with good humor.
— Michael Bowen
Biology Digest
Birders take note! The fully revised and updated ultimate guide to North American birds is out and ready to be devoured by ornithologists of every stripe—professional, amateur, or somewhere in between. . . . Chock full of bird lore and scientific authority, this book is a never-ending source of delight.
Birder's World
[A book] to nestle into a favorite chair with at the end of a good day's birding. It's a volume that can be picked up anytime and opened randomly for a bit of bird-lore. . . . Above all, it's a guide that will lead to a greater enjoyment and understanding of birds.
— Jerome A. Jackson
Birding
Like any good reference work, The Birdwatcher's Companion to North American Birdlife is thorough and authoritative, its thousands of entries running the gamut from physiology and taxonomy to conservation and birder culture. But unlike most references, it is actually a delight to read; throughout, the writing is lively and engaging. Keep a copy on your desk by day, and curl up to another at bedtime.
— Ted Floyd, Editor
BirdLife International
One of the best books ever written on birds and birding. This reference work is not only comprehensive and accurate, but also vastly entertaining. A virtuoso performance.
— Dr. Gerard A. Bertrand
Minneapolis Star-Tribune
This is a wonderful book that I highly recommend. . . . I've had the original, encyclopedic book for years and couldn't do without it.
— Jim Williams
Choice
Leahy's style is by turns serious and scholarly or personal and whimsical, appropriate to a comprehensive reference for both novice and expert birders. There is no recent comparable work.
Ibis
This A-Z reference guide provides a wealth of information, from the basics to little-known trivia. Authors are rare who can incorporate both technical and non-technical terminology into an encyclopedia that is readable—much less pleasurable to read—but Leahy has been successful on both accounts.
— Kris Jones
British Trust for Ornithology
This is a very useful reference book.
Discovery
One can randomly open this handy guide to all things birdy and glean myriad tidbits of useful or interesting information, and sometimes both...The writing is clear and direct, and not without humor...This welcome second edition...has something to offer beginners and seasoned birders alike, and is well worth the reasonable price.
— Christine Adkins
British Columbia Birds
[The Birdwatcher's Companion to North American Birdlife] would certainly warrant a place in any birder's library. With the text being as readable as it is most birders, and even non-birding friends and spouses, may even find themselves reading through it just for the enjoyment of discovering more interesting facts about the birds around them.
— R. A. Buhler
Prairie Naturalist
The Birdwatcher's Companion to North American Birdlife is an impressive and authoritative compilation of information on one of the most-studied groups of organisms in North America. Birders and bird enthusiasts will enjoy browsing through this book for its myriad of facts and entertaining essays. Leahy's light-hearted writing style, humorous anecdotes, and personal experiences add zest to many topics. Weighing just over 3.5 pounds, this beefy reference book is well worth the cost for any birder and will become a valuable resource for any biologist, ecologist, or manager who responds to questions from the ever-inquisitive public. In short, this book will appeal to those who love birds.
— Lawrence D. Igi
Birding
Like any good reference work, The Birdwatcher's Companion to North American Birdlife is thorough and authoritative, its thousands of entries running the gamut from physiology and taxonomy to conservation and birder culture. But unlike most references, it is actually a delight to read; throughout, the writing is lively and engaging. Keep a copy on your desk by day, and curl up to another at bedtime.
— Ted Floyd, Editor
British Columbia Birds
[The Birdwatcher's Companion to North American Birdlife] would certainly warrant a place in any birder's library. With the text being as readable as it is most birders, and even non-birding friends and spouses, may even find themselves reading through it just for the enjoyment of discovering more interesting facts about the birds around them.
— R. A. Buhler
Prairie Naturalist
The Birdwatcher's Companion to North American Birdlife is an impressive and authoritative compilation of information on one of the most-studied groups of organisms in North America. Birders and bird enthusiasts will enjoy browsing through this book for its myriad of facts and entertaining essays. Leahy's light-hearted writing style, humorous anecdotes, and personal experiences add zest to many topics. Weighing just over 3.5 pounds, this beefy reference book is well worth the cost for any birder and will become a valuable resource for any biologist, ecologist, or manager who responds to questions from the ever-inquisitive public. In short, this book will appeal to those who love birds.
— Lawrence D. Igi
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691113883
  • Publisher: American Birding Association, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 8/28/2006
  • Pages: 1072
  • Sales rank: 1,427,577
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Christopher W. Leahy holds the Gerard A. Bertrand Chair of Natural History and Field Ornithology at the Massachusetts Audubon Society. He is the author of "The Nature of Massachusetts" and "First Guide to Insects". Gordon Morrison has been a nature illustrator for over thirty-five years, and has illustrated more than two dozen books on natural history.
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Table of Contents


List of Illustrations ix
Foreword xi
Introduction xiii
Acknowledgments xv
How to Use This Book xvii
The Companion 1
Appendix I: Checklist of North American Birds 899
Appendix II: Checklist of Casual and Accidental Species 935
Appendix III: Alternative Phylogeny of North American Bird Families 947
Appendix IV: Classification of Major Categories of Extinct Birds 951
Appendix V: Exotic Species 953
Appendix VI: Birdwatcher's Calendar 955
Bibliography 963
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