Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Birds of Western Canada by DK Publishing

For Earth Day, Dorling Kindersley (DK) is celebrating all the good things that come from the Earth or live on the Earth by offering some discounts on books in its Earthly Pleasures boutique.

Birds of Western Canada covers over 390 species of birds that inhabit the region. The book offers photographs and detailed information on each of the birds as well as an introduction about birds in general.

I loved this book! It's a perfect field guide for birds in my area. The information is presented in a easy-to-read format with lots of interesting details and photographs. The most common birds are presented on a full page while the rare ones are grouped four to a page.

Each full page spread features the following bits of information:
• scientific classifications: order, family and species
• several labelled photographs/illustrations showing the bird in flight and various colour forms
• small photograph of the bird in its habitat or displaying typical behaviour
• graphic of the flight pattern
• description, voice, nesting and feeding
• similar species
• maps showing the occurrence in North America
• table noting different characteristics such as size (length, wingspan, and weight), social behaviours, lifespan, and status

Each full page also has a space for the birdwatcher to record the date, time and location of a sighting. I really liked this feature. I'm forever forgetting when and where I've seen certain birds. There's only space for writing in a sighting. However, that's ok because I'll probably only want to record the first sighting.

I have a couple of other field guides for identifying birds. The one for birds in North America has too many birds that I'll probably never see. The one for birds in Manitoba (my province) has many of the birds that visit the province, however, more rare sightings or colour variations are not always represented. This book has more information than the others and seems to be the best of the bunch.

One piece of information in this book that's new to me, is the lifespan of the different birds. While some are relatively short-lived (2-3 years), others live longer, 5-15 years, and some longer still, 25+ years. There's even one (Northern Fulmar, a seabird) who lives up to 50 years. I had no clue that some birds could live so long. Very cool!

The book also includes a table of contents, glossary, and index. Both the table of contents and glossary are adequate, however, the index is too short and is missing some entries, in my opinion. For example, you can look up "Grouse" and find a list of all of the grouses. If you happen to know a specific species, you can also look it up by its full name, like "Ruffed Grouse". However, for birds like the California Quail, Gray Partridge and Ring-necked Pheasant, where there's only one type, the index only lists them once under their full name. That is, there's no entry for "quail", "partridge", or "pheasant".

Highly recommended. This book is going to be one of the most well-used reference books in our house. It's a must have for birders in Western Canada.

For more information about this book or to browse inside, please visit DK's website.

I'd like to thank those nice people at DK Canada for this review copy.

Birds of Western Canada by DK, Dorling Kindersley (DK), ©2013. ISBN 9781553631941(Softcover), 439p.

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